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Notes from Up North, February 2019

This was a rough one to write. Of course it’s cold and wet in Vassalboro, because it’s winter. And of course we’ve brought you some real beauties this time around. But this is the first time since the founding of Cates Family Farm (and Cates Glads) that this letter has been written without input from Paul Cates. Paul passed from complications with dementia on October 21, 2018.

Paul Cates on his 93rd birthday in August 2018.

Paul’s joy of flowers lasted right up until the end. Chris Cates, self-described “Everything!” at the farm, would often bring in blooms for the kitchen table during the summer. He went outside often during his last summer with us, and sat on a chair on the walkway to watch the cars pass and chat with our roadside stand customers. Much to Elisabeth’s consternation, Paul frequently picked flowers out of the planters on the farm’s front steps, to give her a petunia bloom or a pansy. He’d pause to smell every bouquet that came in from the garden on his way through the house. He was, at his very core, the Glad Man our florist customers dubbed him so long ago.

You can read Paul’s obituary here. [Update 2020: the funeral home that took care of Paul has unfortunately closed and taken down the obituary. Our friends at The Town Line newspaper in South China, ME have graciously agreed to host the obituary here on their website.]

Paul would have been very disappointed if the annual letter didn’t come out as usual, so the show has gone on. You may notice that things look a little different around here. Let’s start with the price list: is no more, and has taken its place as our home on the Web. Our price list is now fully online, as well. You can place your order via your PayPal account or credit card, or if you prefer, you can place your order and pay via check. We hope this simplifies the order process for many of our customers.

A single-page paper price list is going to go out to those customers who don’t have a listed email; those of whom we have an email on file for, we’ll be sending out a notification of the changes in our site and the availability of the online shop. We still can’t ship to foreign countries, unfortunately — even shipping to Canada is an incredibly complex and pricey process, so we’ve chosen to continue exclusively serving customers within the United States.

Enough about logistics, though. Let’s talk glads!

So, in 2018 we finally got a handle on the weeding. (It only took us 48 years.) So you’d think we would’ve had a bumper crop of bulbs! But alas, there were bug problems and health problems nonetheless, and after we sorted through our harvested bulb crop with a fine tooth comb, our list is a little shorter and our inventory a little slimmer than in previous years. But we can, and will, rebuild our list! Our planting stock and bulblets looked great last year, and promise to produce some healthy mature bulbs in 2019 (provided bugs aren’t, again, an issue).

Great, consistent varieties Gemini, Abbie, and My Rose are among this year’s list. There are several new (or new to us) varieties gracing the virtual pages of our shop as well; Prince of Orange and Rhapsody in Blue among them.

“But Margaret,” you might ask, “Why are there so many varieties without photos this year?” Well, it’s simple — last summer the weekend weather often wasn’t conducive to tromping around in a field with a digital camera, and during the week I have a full-time job off the farm that prevents me from being in the field during the day. May the weather provide us enough sun on Saturdays for weekly photo shoots this year!

Whether you’ve been a loyal customer for years, or you’ve just discovered our little farm on the banks of China Lake, I hope you have a marvelous 2019, and that you have the chance to bring a little beauty into your life with some wonderful glads.

1 thought on “Notes from Up North, February 2019

  1. I have a spring tradition of ordering glad corms from Cates Glads—oftentimes at the very last minute or beyond the last minute of them being able to be shipped. For many years I had the best intentions of properly digging and storing the bulbs for the following year but always had something get in the way of success. This year everything went very well until I noticed the basket of bulbs by my truck on morning that was -20 degrees. They don’t appear to have survived
    One of the highlights of that spring tradition was calling at the last minute and talking briefly with Paul and oftentimes Elisabeth also. They always found a way to get a box of mixed bulbs to a procrastinating veterinarian in NE Ohio.
    I plant the Glads in a couple rows at the edge of the garden by the Martin houses and it’s my small paradise place. The stems have brightened the days of our friends, church members and nursing home patients. They particularly were appreciated by my Dad in his last days and my sister Beth as she was nearing the end of a battle with ovarian cancer.
    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Paul. I took the time to read his obituary—Wow. He and Mrs Cates always seemed like something extra special in talking for just a few minutes on the phone but I never guessed just how special. It makes me appreciate that small connection.
    Anyway my condolences and blessings for your family and I apologize for the extreme length of my message.
    Todd Plocher
    Salem, Ohio

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