Gardening: What you see isn't always what you getBy Linda Fort
February 17, 2012
Opening a plant catalogue at a random page, I was struck by a remarkable picture.
I knew the plant well and that it looked nothing whatever like the image before my eyes.
The plant was Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry Eyes’ and I won’t say which catalogue it was in.
In the picture, the blooms were about an inch across and were dark purple and white. In real life, the very pretty but tiny flowers are a true blue and white.
On the same page was a Himalayan poppy called Mecanopsis ‘Lingholm’ in a slaty blue as far away from the vivid turquoise blue of the real thing as is possible to be.
The more I examined the brochure, the more familiar plants I found in scarcely recognisable form.
I am certain there was no intention to deceive, the quality of the printing was just miles out.
Examining a different catalogue – clearly much more expensively produced – I found the colours seemed to reflect reality more closely.
The moral is beware when you are buying seeds or plants because they may well not look anything like the picture.
And the answer – if you have access to the internet – is to double check there because you can be pretty certain you will find several versions of the plant you are hoping to buy in any number of different websites.
After scrolling through them all you should have a reasonable idea of what your proposed purchase really looks like.
This is the time of year when catalogues come through the post or are given away free with papers.
Buying seeds mail order is as hit and miss as buying them from a garden centre.
If you are familiar with what you are buying, you are fine, if not, you may be in for a disappointment.
Red sunflowers are generally a let down as are red delphiniums.
A seed packet marked with an RHS medal usually offers a guarantee of quality as far as the variety is concerned.
I have rarely bought a plant mail order and found it to be in good condition. Although I am a generally an enthusiastic mail order shopper of things I can easily send back, I am rarely tempted by plants these days. Nothing beats going to a garden centre or plant sale and taking a good look before you buy.
And when you spot the pretty blue and white navelwort Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’, you can fall in love with it for its real woodland charm.