Montgomery Ward Garden book, 1961
Garden catalogs are — pardon the pun – a perennial. We’ve previously posted catalogs dating back well more than 100 years. They were wishbooks for a farmer or gardener. In winter they could look over the promise of flowers or crops, and plan for the coming seasons. Especially as color printing improved and became more affordable, garden and seed catalogs were a perfect opportunity to show off flowers and fruit in gorgeous, idealized, colorful photos and illustrations.
This 1961 Ward’s catalog, for instance. Ideal for the family picture in the low-slung suburban home inked on the front cover (zoom in to inspect it). To those who were nervous about ordering by mail, Wards promised their roses were guaranteed to bloom or bushes would be replaced free. They then devoted their first 11 pages to 73 varieties of roses: big, small, clustered, solo, heirloom and the latest mid-century modern versions in glorious colors.
Great names, too: Queen Elizabeth, Chrysler Imperial, Merry Heart, Doubloons, Golden Showers and dozens more. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.