The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 6, 2013

Jo Ellis: It’s time to indulge in seed catalog seduction

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The U.S. Postal Service deserves a break after delivering all those Christmas greetings and packages every year.

But does it get it?

No. Hard on the heels of those last-minute gifts and after-Christmas ads come the ubiquitous seed catalogs.

Before the last bite of leftover turkey hash or ham sandwich is downed, there are the colorful reminders that spring is on the way. Just look at what you could be harvesting this summer: rich reds, vibrant oranges and greens, succulent purples, sultry yellows. And what about the multi-colored “Bright Lights” Swiss chard combining all of the above?

There should be a law against this kind of vegetable seduction!

And I haven’t even made it to the flower section yet.

If you think I’m kidding, just read this description of the “Lasting Love” tea rose offered by the J.W. Jung Seed Co.: “The deep, passionate color of this hybrid tea will make your heart throb. The double 4-6 inch, beautifully formed blooms are a blend of dusky red and deep plum rose, each flower saturated with rich pure rose fragrance.”

What? Where’s the wine?

Help me. Bring on the cold shower and shock some sense into me. I know down deep in my heart that I will never be able to grow a rose that alluring, or an ear of corn that is simultaneously “tender, sweet and succulent.”

But every year I am seduced, and I order the seeds. Some never even get planted. I have several packets of seeds in my freezer from previous “seductions.”

Some are planted, but the plants never get the proper care they need to grow and flourish, while some struggle to life and actually produce a few fruits or flowers. I take some pride in taking a home-grown bouquet or a half-pint of jelly to a friend and being able to boast, “This was made with grapes from our own grapevine.”

Yes, we have only one, but it seems to be a survivor — and a producer — if we can only beat the birds to the ripe grapes.

As they say, hope springs eternal. So in these somewhat gloomy days of winter, I am inevitably lured back to those bright, glossy photographs of fruit and vegetable perfection.

It’s going to take strong resolve to know my limits, and to limit my desires. Tell me, how can you say “no” to “Tiger Eyes sumac” or “Black Lace sambucus”? Can you resist “Tickled-pink grapes” or “Chocomocha cosmos”? How about “Purple Passion asparagus” or “Sweet repeat raspberries”?

I didn’t think so.

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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