Seed and plant catalogs

A subscriber from Maryland who writes a gardening column for The Chesapeake Times offers these thoughts on seed and plant catalogs.  We have added the links for these catalogs in the article.

Catalog Time

by Sue Kloman

If only January and February could be deleted from the calendar – and the year. Cold, dark, dismal, and nowhere near spring; doldrums months. On the other hand, January is also the month when the seed and plant catalogs begin to arrive, allowing us to curl up with impossibly lush visions of next year’s flowers and vegetables, of warm sun and beauty and bounty.

While most people buy their annuals in flats in May at the garden store, the choice tends to be limited. I use seed catalogs for plants I can not get in any other way, such as lettuce of various types, sorrel, and zinnias in specific colors for cutting. I receive several catalogs, but prefer Pinetree Gardens Seeds because they have everything I want. They also have fewer seeds per packet which makes them cheaper as well. If you want a wider choice, Gurney’s offers the most comprehensive list; every plant you have ever heard of, and more.

I start some seeds – zinnias, tomatoes, and sometimes perennials – indoors under lights in March, and plant them out in May. I never attempt petunias, but always buy them as plants from the garden store.

Among the nursery catalogs that offer plants, White Flower Farm is a very good choice, and Wayside Gardens is an old favorite. Plant Delights Nursery offers many rare and hard to find plants and Bluestone Perennials is excellent as well.

Among the many bulb catalogs, one of my favorites is a small one with many unusual plants – McClure & Zimmerman’s. They send two catalogs; one for spring- planted bulbs and another for fall-planted bulbs.

Generally speaking, it is safer to plant hardy plants like trees, shrubs, or perennials in early fall rather than in spring. This gives the roots a chance to develop before the plant has to put out new foliage and blooms. (One exception to this rule is the Dogwood.)

Of course, if you can find what you want, it is always safer to buy plants locally than to subject them to the hazards of shipping. Most mail order nurseries pack plants expertly, but there is always the possibility that the package may be dropped, delayed, or exposed to extreme heat or cold before it reaches you.

Nevertheless, if it proves impossible to find that special plant, the seed or plant catalog can always come to the rescue.

Sue Kloman has gardened in upstate New York, and Washington, DC. She now lives at Heron Point, Chestertown where she maintains a vegetable plot in the community garden and grows all manner of flowers, shrubs and trees around her cottage.

Reprinted with permission from Chesapeake Times January, 2009 Vol 1 No. 8
Chesapeake Times
Chestertown, MD 21620

If you would like to get a jump on the planting season, watch this video on starting seeds indoors.