Dinosaurs in the Farmer Seed and Nursery catalog, pg. 25, Spring 2020.
history history relevance observations pragmatic historian using history writing

Why Are There Dinosaurs in My Plant Catalog?

Farmer Seed and Nursery, Spring 2020 catalog.
Farmer Seed and Nursery, Spring 2020 catalog.

A couple of months ago, I received a Farmer Seed and Nursery spring catalog in the mail. Having never received one of these before, I can only surmise that the Arbor Day Foundation shared my information with the company. I became a member of the Arbor Day Foundation in November 2019 and when I got my membership materials, something in them indicated they would sell my info for marketing purposes.

Let me just say, aside from making money on my contact info (where is the opt-out, ADF?) the Arbor Day Foundation is relentless in membership renewals. I received a renewal for my annual membership within a couple of months of my original membership and received another renewal notice after that. I love saving trees, but these membership practices are ridiculous.

That said, if the Arbor Day Foundation is behind my receiving a copy of the Farmer Seed and Nursery catalog, I’m rather enjoying it. I leave it on my dining table and peruse it over lunch. It causes a lot less heartburn than reading the lousy news filling my Twitter feed.

Through the catalog, I’m learning a little something about plant identification, the zones certain plants grow in, and interesting facts about plants. Did you know there is a squash-like vegetable that once mature can be used as a sponge? It’s called, no surprise, a Luffa Sponge.

As a writer, I am impressed with the amount of text in this 42-page catalog. Someone has to write all the plant descriptions and do it in such a way that it makes you want to buy them. For example, the Colorado Blue Spruce is sold this way:

Add value to your property – an excellent windbreak! (Picea pungens ‘Glauca’) This is the ultimate in specimen evergreens! Glistening, steel-blue coloring and graceful conical shape. So dense growing they make superb windbreaks or privacy screens where there is space enough for large spreading trees. Will grow to 50′ or more in 35-50 years. Does best in full sun and moist soil. Shining blue, northern-grown spectacular which will add contrast to your landscape. Make excellent corner plantings, and windbreaks when planted 10′ apart.” (pg. 21, Farmer Seed and Nursery, spring 2020 catalog. Note that the red text and the bolded text in my post appear this way in catalog.)

Need a windbreak? Go order one of these babies, now!

Dinosaurs in the Farmer Seed and Nursery catalog, pg. 25, Spring 2020.
Dinosaurs in the Farmer Seed and Nursery catalog, pg. 25, Spring 2020.

It took me a number of days looking through the catalog to notice something peculiar on page 25. A pterodactyl and a triceratops.

I did a double-take.

Why are there dinosaurs in my plant catalog?

Reading more closely, I can see they are being used to sell a redwood tree.

Dawn RedwoodGrew when dinosaurs roamed the Earth! – (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) The only tree of its kind that had the strength to survive after nearly 70 million years! Flourishes in almost any soil or climate. ….”

Indeed! If the redwood survived from the time of dinosaurs, it’d have to be able to grow in almost any soil or climate.

Farmer Seed and Nursery found an interesting way of using history to sell a product. Those dinosaurs certainly caught my attention. Because they are so incongruous with the rest of the catalog, it’s a sure bet they caught the attention of others too.