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Notes from Up North, February 2018

Well, another year has come and gone, and it’s time once again for households across the country to receive their Cates Family Glads annual mailer.

“But wait!” you might be thinking. “Doesn’t Cates Family Glads usually send out a bifold catalog instead of a packet comprising a few pages?”

And you’d be right! However, due to an amalgamation of environmental factors, last year’s growing season was a rough one in Central Maine — a very rough one. There was wind. There was rain. There was drought. There were bugs. There were weeds. And though we fought valiantly, we pride ourselves on being picky about the quality of bulbs that we offer to our customers, and some of our mature stock just didn’t make the cut.

Because we’re picky about quality, our bulbs weren’t fully cleaned and sorted until mid-January. Inventory was a relatively quick process… but then, disaster struck again in the form of a corrupted system driver on Margaret’s computer, which hobbled her ability to do anything beyond threatening to throw the laptop out the third-story window at the farm during the several weeks it took to diagnose, troubleshoot, and repair it. (We were contemplating just photocopying our handwritten list of varieties at one point to speed up the process.)

With all that in mind, instead of our usual catalog, this year we’re going back to our roots and offering a humble price list to our loyal customer base. We’re full of hope that in 2018 Mother Nature will look more kindly upon our farm in East Vassalboro and grant us just the right kind of weather to rebuild our collection from last year’s bulblets and planting stock.

Despite our struggles with the elements in 2017, we do have some good news! Gracing our cover page and our listing this year is 75th Anniversary, a gorgeous royal purple gem of a glad that was introduced in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Gladiolus Society. Another beautiful addition to our listing in the same color family is King Solomon, which we haven’t had available since 2012.

The world is changing, in and outside of our glad patches. Technology has connected us in ways that we’ve never been. Technology made it possible (after a bit of a delay) for us to produce this catalog and the website on which our price list lives. It lets us communicate with our customers and other glad fans on social media, helps us organize events, and keeps us up to date on weather conditions and markets. There’ve been innovations in farm equipment, crop rotation, fertilizers, and irrigation.

But there’s one thing that technology can’t outshine… and that’s the beauty of a glad field in East Vassalboro, bursting with color in mid-summer.

On behalf of Paul, Elisabeth, and the rest of the Cateses of Cates Family Glads, we wish you all a colorful 2018, with hope for just enough rain to make your glad patch the star of your neighborhood.

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