Some might say I am easily excited. They’re right. But I can’t hold back on this one.
I may have said before that I am very partial to a seed catalogue. The JParkers Dutch Bulb catalogue caused quite a stir a few weeks ago. Sarah Raven catalogues can be relied upon to titillate, though it is diluted with lifestyle products, and I like my flower porn to be au naturel. On Wednesday my cup runneth over. The snow had led to a backlog of catalogues, and not one but two glossy booklets arrived at once. the David Austin Handbook of Roses and the new Chiltern Seeds Spring Brochure.
Now the DA Handbook can be relied upon for deep pleasure, and I was not disappointed. There are pages of sumptuous roses in mixed borders, pots, hedges…
But the Chiltern Seeds Spring Brochure takes things to a new level. We are talking multiple flowergasm. I suggest you open a new tab for the brochure and I’ll take you through this.
Let’s just linger on the cover a moment. Papaver rhoeas ‘Pandora’. The name is a warning. She is like homemade berry coulis swirled in thick cream.
Open it. Inside cover: Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Velouette’. That means ‘soft’. Silken. This one reminds me of a designer meringue piped with blackcurrant.
Now I have your interest, turn over to the zinnia page. Glory be. We have a whole coral reef of zinnias to swim amongst! As if ‘Queen Red Lime’ weren’t enough of a tickle, now we have ‘Queen Lime with Blotch’. ‘Zinderella Lilac’ and ‘Zinderella Peach’. Look at their pillowy mounds!
Ombré is my favourite new word. It was taught to me by my daughters, and now I can’t stop using it. It is ‘the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark’ (Wikipedia).
Look at the ombré on ‘Zinderella Peach’! Tingles up my spine!
Or the spiny ‘Mazurka’ with its deepest shadows!
Now turn to page 9, ‘Vibrant Vases’. We’re taking a bit of a breather here and cooling down, but look at that vase with the Helianthus ‘Valentine’, with white and blue borage, Cosmos ‘Purity’ and white snapdragons! As if that weren’t enough, there is pastel perfection on the facing page with ammi, soft pink and lilac scabious and peachy snapdragons.
We’re going to have to skip a few pages now. Go to p.16, ‘Super Scabious’. The Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’ is the image at the header of this post. It is like a wine-stain spreading across crisp table linen. Picture credits throughout go to the goddess at Chiltern Seeds, Sabina Ruber. Sabina, I fall at your feet. Now linger awhile on ‘Fats Morgana’ with its petals the colour of sun-warmed peach flesh.
Then, another excuse to use the word ombré on the next double-spread, with a casual scattering of snapdragons, Antirrhinum majus ‘Rust Resistant Giant’ Mixed. Ok, that wasn’t very sexy, but look at the picture to get you back in the mood. Depths of cherry and plum, seeping into raspberry and peach, just the hint of creamy white and palest green.
Now for the shock of the new. Flick through to page 24. See it? That stalwart, Calendula officianalis ‘Indian Prince’. See him? Look at him now! Reimagined with a deep olive backdrop to set off his mahogany and blood-orange stripes!
On pages 28-29 we have a vampish look. Nigella ‘African Bride’ (name makes me cringe) stands out like a killer virus. Or false eyelashes.
Then we have a ‘Farrow and Ball’ couple of pages with National Trust greens. We finish with softest apricots. I want to fondle Calendula ‘Touch of Red Buff’ and poke my finger into Digitalis ‘Dalmation Peach’.
Is it the soft light? The close-ups? The textures? The angles? Probably all of these and a touch of Je ne sais quoi. The colour-themed pages are delicious. This is the undisputed queen of the seed catalogues, 2018.
I hesitate before I publish. Am I sharing lewd images? I take no responsibility if readers become overtaken by wild urges to sow seed as the result of this post.
My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.
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