It's that time of year again. The seed catalogs have been arriving for more than a month, and now the plant catalogs are filling the mailbox, too. These are like crack cocaine to a gardener, especially one who is sick and tired of winter and can't wait for spring to hurry up and get here.
There are always some wonderful new cultivars contained within the catalog pages. (As if the usual offerings aren't tempting enough.) I have my weaknesses - lots of them - so my eyes will sometimes glaze over as I see something that thrills me, then turn the page and there's another something.
|Dianthus amurensis 'Siberian Blues' with Lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina)|
But experience has taught me to proceed with caution. Those beautiful photographs in dazzling colors can really suck me in, especially if it's red or blue. But as a photographer, I know that red and blue can be very difficult to capture in their true hues. So catalog publishers will enhance the photo a bit. Sometimes a lot.
This is an issue that's been discussed at great length among gardeners for years. We've all been a victim of misrepresentation by these altered images at some point or another. My first experience with this was when I saw Dianthus amurensis 'Siberian Blues' advertised several years ago. The photo showed a lovely deep blue flower and the description seemed to back it up, that it was indeed blue. I fell for it.
|Dianthus amurensis 'Siberian Blues'|
While I do love my 'Siberian Blues' dianthus, it isn't blue. It's a lovely shade of lavender, which may tend toward the blue end of the spectrum in cooler weather, but it definitely isn't blue.
So how do we avoid a situation like this? Here's what I do. I march myself right on over to Dave's Garden and I do a search for the exact plant I'm looking at. Nearly 100% of the time, other gardeners have posted photos of the plant in their own gardens. Real photos by real gardeners.
Many times there are helpful comments posted by gardeners, too, as to how it grows, any problems they may have, etc. Just checking plants out there has saved me money and disappointment.
Comment by gardener teachnkids re: 'Siberian Blues' - "I was disappointed in its color, not because it isn't a pretty color, but because I was expecting a blue flower as the catalogue picture showed. The pictures on Dave's Garden do a great job of showing the true color."
Have you ever been excited by a plant's photo, only to order it and be disappointed because it didn't look like you thought it would?