Poring over seed catalogs and gardening books is my favorite winter pastime. A cup of coffee in one hand and my journal for notes in the other, I love planning my next season’s garden. And now I find that as I plan my own garden, creative ideas pop up for my clients’ gardens as well. One example: I created a garden design last year that has a really nice foundation of plantings for each season, and I thought how great to layer herbs in throughout the whole garden. It would be beautiful to weave in rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley and lemon basil, with rosemary spilling over the rock ledge. This particular client loves to cook and has small children, so it would be fun for them to clip and cook. They also live on a busy street, so how fun for the neighbors to get a whiff of rosemary as they walk by.
Here are some of my favorite catalogs and the reasons I love them so:
1. White Flower Farm www.whiteflowerfarm.com White Flower Farm was my first catalog love affair. It is the best catalog in terms of quality of pictures and description of plants. You can learn more from this catalog than many gardening books. This company is OUTSTANDING for customer service. If something dies, they will replace it or give you a store credit, no questions asked. Their plants and bulbs are of superior quality.
2. Jung Seeds & Plants www.jungseed.com “Respected for Quality, Value and Service, Seeds, Plants, Bulbs, Supplies, Gifts” I have ordered from Jung Catalog. They have the best prices, beyond fair and reasonable, and they always throw in random freebies. Old-fashioned in a way and very charming, they have everything from perennials, shrubs, and edibles to seeds and garden tools. You could easily plan your whole season, place one large order, and have it all delivered to your door. My dad does this. For years, he has ordered almost everything for his Door County garden from Jung Seeds & Plants, and he has the healthiest, most prolific garden and yard.
3. Seed Savers Exchange www.seedsavers.org I first learned about and fell in love with Seed Savers Exchange when they had a cute little store on charming Monroe Street in Madison, Wisconsin. I randomly bought 0ld-fashioned vining petunias, and my gardens have never been the same since. I was so sad to see this store leave Monroe Street. There has never been a garden store on Monroe Street since (hint, hint; Mel’s Green Garden can dream, right?). But they are in Decorah, Iowa, and I long to visit them there. And Seed Savers produces a beautiful catalog. What I love most is, they tell you when something is poisonous, and at what stage the seed or plant is poisonous. I buy seeds from SSE every season.
4. Van Engelen www.vanengelen.com “The best Dutch flower bulbs at the best prices” I ignored this catalog for a long time. Then a dear friend asked me if I had read Tasha Tudor’s gardening books. I hadn’t, so I checked them out at the library and fell madly in love with Tasha’s gardening style. In her book she listed Van Engelen as a resource for purchasing her bulbs. That was enough motivation for me to step outside my comfort bubble. WOW. I have never seen larger, healthier, cheaper high-quality bulbs. I am a customer for life. I ordered every kind of allium. I didn’t realize at that point of my gardening journey that you can have an allium blooming every day of the spring/summer/fall. Van Engelen has a superior bulb at the fairest price. Thank you, Tasha Tudor.
5. Klehm’s Song Sparrow www.songsparrow.com “Farm and Nursery, Rare and Specialty Plants” I learned about this amazing catalog from being a member of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. Check this catalog out.
6. Logee’s www.logees.com Logee’s is your place for tropicals. I learned about Logee’s from watching them on a Martha Stewart Show. They have the tropicals , whether you are looking for a banana plant, King Tut grass, elephant ear, jasmine or an orange tree. They will have a healthy plant ready to ship to you at a good price. My sister orders from them more than I do.
7. Ambergate Gardens www.ambergategardens.com “Distinctive Perennial Flowers, Bare Root, Mail Order Catalog” I heard about this Minnesota-based company when the owner spoke at a Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. He gave a wonderful talk on shade plants. I had no idea how many varieties of shade plants were out there. So, for example, if you want an ornamental grass, tall or short, they carry a variety that will succeed in the shade.
8. Spring Hill Nurseries springhillnursery.com Everything I have ordered and planted from Spring Hill Nurseries has been successful. They sometimes have great offers in their catalogs; but what I like best is, they have full garden designs in their catalogs with exactly what to buy. Inspirational ideas!
9. Johnny’s Selected Seeds www.johnnyseeds.com I have shopped here indirectly. The grower I buy from purchases his seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Everything I get from this grower ROCKS! My dad also buys his seeds from Johnny’s. Again, success! I have enjoyed the fruits (and vegetables) of my dad’s seedlings in my garden and on my dinner plate.
1o. Flora Grubb Gardens floragrubb.com I love everything about Flora Grubb. She has introduced me to airless plants like tillandsia and vertical gardening with fabulous Woolly Pockets, both still on my wish list. Flora Grubb also has amazing terrariums–so popular right now. She has sass and style and is a very talented garden/floral designer.
Honorable Mention: Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses in Madison, Wisconsin www.kleinsfloral.com While they are not a mail-order-catalog store, they DO DELIVER. So if you know exactly what you want, you can place an order and have them deliver for a small fee. If you are an impulse buyer, have small children or are short on time but love digging in dirt, place an order and have it delivered! Last year, I had King Tut grass, flats of purple petunias, gladiolus bulbs, and black ornamental millet delivered.