False advertising

beware false advertisingby Christine Berglund

Here they come! The first seed catalogs of the season. Oh, and not just seeds. I will also be bombarded by emails about plants, trees, and summer bulbs. Alongside the catalogs will soon be notepads and web pages filled with wish lists. I will be cross-referencing where to get the tried and true staples and where the odd, unusual seeds are, to help decide what new and exciting things to grow.

The best catalogs are online, complete with tempting pictures and growing advice. It was with this same breathless anticipation that I had ordered my Fritillaria Persicus and the Fritillaria Michaelovski more than a year ago for fall planting. I had done an internet image search, and decided I could not do without them. The Michaelovski never materialized. I got one-inch leaves, which turned yellow and died. The Fritillaria Persica was one that was a bit of a splurge. Fifteen dollars for one big three-inch bulb is ridiculous enough, and this one was only this cheap because a few of us “plant addicts” went in on a large order.

The images in the catalog and on Google were breathtaking. Silvery foliage along long stems were topped with dusky blackish-purple bells. The plant would grow to two or three feet and put out multiple stems, with a dozen or more black bells. This would be stunning in my garden!

I chose a place of honor, in a border close to the patio so that this prize would be enjoyed to the fullest. It was centered in the rounded bend at the corner of the fence, in front of a dark red rose bush. Pink Charm daffodils would sit at its “feet” so to speak.

The new daffodils bloomed, and were enjoyed immensely even though they were coral in color, not pink. My Frittilaria was growing between them and the rosebush, two stems with neat rows of pale, chalky leaves, just like the picture. It grew to twelve inches and then….nothing. No bells. No additional stems. Nothing that I would pay $15.00 for, certainly.

The world is so much like this. The allure of great pleasure is never really quite what we wanted or expected. The fleeting moments that do materialize are gone very quickly. If we don’t make the best use of them, what good are they?

Satan has long been known for his false advertising skills. He “sold” the forbidden fruit to Eve by telling her that it would make her just like God. He does the same thing with us. The temptation to go against God’s law is so appealing, so inviting, and makes so much sense. That is, if you believe the false hype.

It is all in the advertising. How often have you been lured into doing something you know you would regret because people around you seemed to be enjoying it?

The most effective lies always contain some truth. Those pictures in the catalogs are probably not computer enhanced, but may be photos from botanical gardens where the lucky plants get 24-hour attention. I’m not sure who produces these Fritillaria plants, but all the local gardeners I’ve talked to cannot grow them, either. They are native to Persia; maybe that’s the only place they bloom. So it’s not really a lie to say that some plants could look like the picture. Just not in a normal garden.

Eve did get a little bit of what was promised to her. She did get to know good from evil after eating the fruit, and that was being “like God.” The whole truth wasn’t told.

Be a wary shopper!

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet.

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