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Dreams of imaginary gardens

When the temperature hovers above zero, garden catalogs hold the promise of spring.

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The farmer smiles out at me from the cover of the catalog. In his hand he appears to be holding fertile soil or perhaps some seeds. A riot of yellow sunflowers flourish across the glossy paper that reads, "Welcome to Wildseed Farms." I'm only going to glance inside at the first page. I don't have room in my yard for wildflowers. Like a book of magic, one page turns and then another, and I'm hooked. Perhaps, I might have room for just one wildflower.

"Our guarantee – we want you to be happy." I want bluebonnets, but they grow well only in Zone 7 or 8. My garden appears in the blue section of the zone map of the United States – Zone 4. Should I hope to grow bluebonnets or plant some more of their northern cousin – lupine – again?

Every winter, when the world outside my window is white, I dream in color – blue lupine, scarlet penstemon, marigolds. Just as I'm sliding on cross- country skis across the snow, they begin to arrive. Some days it's just one, some days two or three. Perky faces peer out of the pages of the Wildseed Farms catalog, the Park Seed catalog, the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, and more. I dash inside from the mailbox, fix a cup of tea, and pore over every page while studiously ignoring the zones. I'm seduced by blossoms in riots of hues.

Maybe this year I can grow agapanthus – lily of the Nile – in my Rocky Mountain Montana garden! I turn another page, garden plan in one hand, pencil in another.


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