A critical but affectionate review of retail catalogues from the 1950s to early 1960s can be found in Katherine White’s Onward and Upward in the Garden, a collection of essays that originally appeared in the New Yorker magazine. As a New Yorker editor and an avid gardener, Katherine White relished the quirky, diverse writing styles of catalogue authors. “I am an addict of this form of literature”, she wrote in 1959, and a student of the strange personalities of the authors who lead me on…I read for news, for driblets of knowledge, for aesthetic pleasure, and at the same time I am planning the future, and so I read in dream”.1 White mentioned Breck’s of Boston as a source of garden gadgets and tools—their catalogue of 1952 offered plastic flowerpots, which were not yet in as wide use as they are today. Many of the other seed and nursery companies she discussed are represented in the OSU collection; a selection of covers from their 1950s catalogues is scanned below.
- Katherine S. White, Onward and Upward in the Garden, edited and with an introduction by E.B. White and with a new afterword by Jamaica Kincaid (North Point Press, New York, 1997) 21 Return to text ↑
Armstrong Nurseries. 1954. 1 p.
Famous Primroses from Barnhaven. 1954-1955. 1 p.
How to have Better Gardens for 1952. 1 p.
Perfection in Holly. Circa 1950s. 1 p.
Bulbs for Pots and Fall Planting in The Garden. 1952. 1 p.
The Book for Garden Lovers: Seeds, Bulbs, Plants. 1954. 1 p.
Pitzonka's High-Quality Pansies 1 p.
Romaine B. Ware - Lilies 25th Anniversary. 1952. 1 p.
Roses of Yesterday. 1952. 1 p.
Fine Lilies and Lilacs. 1955. 1 p.
Vaughan's Book for Florists. 1956. 1 p.
Weston Nurseries. 1952. 1 p.