It’s January. The Christmas decorations have all been put away. Or maybe they’re all in a giant pile outside the attic door waiting for a magic fairy to do it. But things sure seem drab. The winter so far has been incredibly white for a lot of you. And while we had a gorgeous Christmas here in Texas (79° on Christmas Day!) it’s gotten frigid since then. It’s just a chilly and blah time of year.
No holidays are coming up for several weeks and Spring seems forever away. I know what all of us really want to do is sit in bed for the next two months, drink hot cocoa and binge watch new shows. But as that might cause a complete break-down of society I have a smaller, but effective, way to cheer you up! Something that will be sure to put a smile of excitement on your face: seed and garden catalogs! Mine have just started trickling in. Those clever devils at the planting companies know how bleak things seem right now and this is when they send out those tempting catalogs of bright, cheerful and delicious offerings.
If you are not usually a gardener or haven’t managed to get on the mailing list of any planting catalogs, here are some of my favorites. (You can look at their websites, but I’d recommend asking for a catalog. I still get a thrill when I find a bright, new catalog in my mailbox.)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
This is called the World’s Biggest Seed Catalog and it is really is quite large. It’s certainly my favorite. The thing I love most about these seeds as that they are heirloom seeds, which means you won’t find weird hybrids or genetically modified stuff. Instead you’ll find, for example, the same wonderful and delicious green beans that farmers in France planted two hundred years ago. The ones that Julia Child swooned over in Parisian markets, not the bland and boring beans you find in American grocery stores. The Gettle family, who owns Baker Creek, is dedicated to finding and preserving local varieties of plants (both edible and flowering) and travels all over the world to find the very best seeds. This is where I got my best producing seed of all time: Ali Baba Watermelons. These things have grown better in the sweltering Texas summers than anything I’ve ever planted. You can find Baker Creek at http://www.rareseeds.com
David Austin Roses
This catalog is heaven on Earth. So much beauty it will take your breath away. This catalog makes me yearn in my bones to be in England to be surround by these stunning roses. The flowers are gorgeous and the photos are gorgeous and this is just the loveliest garden porn there is. http://www.davidaustinroses.com/us/cataloguerequest
White Flower Farm
I’ve been getting this catalog for twenty years and it is always a joy. It’s mostly flowers and garden plants that you can’t read about without feeling like life is beautiful. The only thing I don’t like so much about this catalog is its heavy leaning on things that only do well in cool climates (it is a Connecticut company after all). Many of the plants for sale would wither and die here in Zone 8. But if you’re in a colder climate, the sky’s the limit! One day I’ll have a huge patch of Lilies-of-the-Valley. I will! http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/?page=wff&action=catalog
Seed Savers Exchange
This is one gorgeous catalog. Seed Savers is actually a non-profit organization dedicated saving and storing seeds from growers around the world and preserving the biodiversity of our food and plants. Everything available is open-pollinated (pretty much the the opposite of GMO) and most is heirloom. If this doesn’t get you wanting to replace your entire backyard with a vegetable garden, I don’t know what will. http://www.seedsavers.org/catalog
High Country Gardens
If you live in an arid part of the West, you need this catalog! It isn’t so much about eye candy but if you’re thinking about xeriscaping or need a plant that loves hot, brutal sun, you’ll find it here. While it’s sort of a bummer to live in a place where Hydrangeas and delphinium come to a quick end, there are some amazingly lovely plants that thrive in dry, sunny weather. I’ve gotten several things from High Country Gardens and have never been disappointed. One additional bonus: they offer several types of waterwise, natural grasses for lawns to replace the thirsty, finicky lawns most people have. http://www.highcountrygardens.com/mail-sign-up
This is mostly an herb and vegetable catalog. If you’re interested in having an herb garden for your kitchen or maybe growing some medicinal plants, this is the catalog for you. If a big garden overwhelms you but you still want to grow something besides flowers, try this out. Bonus: they have cotton seeds to raise your own cotton! How cool is that? https://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=requst2.html