The corner garden depresses me.  I can see that as soon as the weather gets milder, Al and I have a lot of work to do in the yard. The English ivy looks like lettuce that froze overnight; the hellebores droop woefully.  The akebia vine, still coiled around the trellis, has one hopeful “arm” stretched skyward – maybe beckoning Spring to come sooner than March 20.  The Japanese Silver Grass looks pretty good, especially when the sun backlights it in mid afternoon.  That and the birds that visit the feeder are about the only items worth watching right now.  The birds, of course, have dropped seeds from the feeder everywhere, so I’m wondering what I’m going to have growing from that mess once the weather warms up and the ground softens.

Those mystery seeds bring to mind the many seed and plant catalogs that have been showing up in my mailbox and in my email.  Many neat plants to look at and dream over in these cold winter months, and I know I have plenty of company in this activity.  Just eyeing the tomato seeds and plants in the catalogs makes my mouth water for the home-grown tomatoes we’ll get in just six months.  The varieties boggle the mind.  Do I want to try heirloom tomatoes this year or maybe a tie-dye hybrid tomato?  A tie-dye hybrid, you say?  An exclusive of Burpee, it’s billed in the 2010 catalog as “one flavor-full, color-full beautiful tomato . . . bicolor gold and red” that “delivers all the heirloom flavor” of several varieties of heirloom tomatoes rolled into this one stupendous red globe.

Maybe some Bloody Butcher Corn seeds from the 2010 R. H. Shumway’s Illustrated Garden Guide might be a nice complement to those tie-dye tomatoes.  Sounds rather dramatic and from the picture it would definitely garner some attention in the garden with its 8’- 12’ stalks producing two to three large ears.  The catalog says that it’s an “extremely rare, old heirloom variety dating back to 1845.  Features blood-red kernels, streaked with a darker red.”    Sounds kinda like something out of Sweeney Todd!

I must be in a red mood today, because the “Mara des Bois” Strawberries from the White Flower Farm 2010 catalog are looking interesting to me as well.  These “aromatic fruits about the size of acorns” have a “rich, sweet flavor that hints of vanilla.”  I could buy, for a mere $125, a kit from them containing the strawberry jar, 9 bare root plants, and potting soil.  Hmmmm, maybe not.  That’s mighty pricey for some berries.  But, it’s pleasant to contemplate the taste of those sun-ripened berries in my mouth just now.

Maybe the Vanilla Strawberry™ Hydrangea shown on the cover of the Jung Seeds & Plants Spring 2010 catalog might be more economical though certainly not as toothsome as the berries.   Described as the “landscape sensation from France,” this hydrangea sounds like a plant I’d like living in my garden.  The huge flower panicles, according to the catalog blurb, make superb fresh and dried floral arrangements.   This hydrangea deserves “specimen status” so I suspect it would stand out in the crowd.  At $19.95 for a 2 year old 12-15” bare root plant, it might be worth a try.

I’m pretty sure I have a spot or two for some of these red plants in my garden – after all, some of them can even be grown in a container.  Maybe I’ll get an early start on spring and order some of them.  Yep, I’ve talked myself into it.