Wednesday, March 04, 2009
...from the 1930s.
My dad gave me a stack of old seed catalogs, and it's really interesting to look through them. On the surface, they look pretty similar to modern catalogs, except there is more text and fewer pictures. However, the plant descriptions betray different attitudes and priorities of the gardeners of the time. One of the catalogs says of a variety of sweet pea, "This is the most vigorous Early Spencer Sweet Pea I have ever grown, and constitutes the richest tone of rose-pink ever produced in a Sweet Pea." Do many people even grow sweet peas for flowers anymore? I imagine that in 75 years there could be similar incredulity over our current catalogs, with all their lawn care gadgets and chemicals.
There was also an old almanac-type book from Better Homes and Gardens, which I haven't had a chance to look through yet.
Finally, my dad took me to a bookstore in Salt Lake City called Ken Sanders Rare Books. There was unfortunately no agriculture section, but I did find an old book on tanning leather in the craft section. I already have a book (Tan Your Hide!) but I've read reviews that say that it's not very accurate or useful as an instruction book. I hope that this one will be better.
As an aside, in March Wendell Berry will be at Ken Sanders. When I saw that, I immediately wished I had scheduled my trip for March instead of February. I haven't read any of his fiction, but his agricultural essays are thought-provoking and beautifully written.