Winter dreams of warm weather and green shoots

One thing that makes my heart pitter-patter these days is to see a handwritten envelope in the daily mail. Close to that thrill is the arrival after the holidays of the various seed and plant catalogues.

The dreaming starts again for the best garden ever. I check to see what is new and what is still offered that has been a success in the past. I say catalogues but websites and email notices have taken over print these days. I’ll mention both kinds that I am fond of.

You might think it’s way too early to be thinking of gardens but the best choices for plants and seeds happens now. It’s still early for seed starting, but you’ll want to be ready when that day comes. Also, you can order now for delivery later.

Unlike most trilliums, Trillium pusillum, or roadrunner trillium, propagates relatively rapidly.

There are specialty offerings for strictly organic or native plants and seeds. I particularly love the niche garden nurseries I have gotten to know over my years of gardening. These are usually small independent providers who deal with you as a friend and not just a customer. Customer service and quality are both important. Some former small purveyors have been bought out by conglomerates over the years so my mentions will be current and used recently.

High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott has established a fine reputation for organic seeds, and I’ve watched the company grow since it had a two-page flyer. They have a close association with Sterling College and share their produce with the school, thus reserving the seeds of many offerings. They emphasize vegetables but include flowers, cover crops and herbs as well.

Prairie Moon Nursery in Minnesota offers native seeds and plants from a climate like our own. You can choose among carefully selected collections for pollinator, shade, meadow and prairie gardens. All plants and seeds are neonicotinoid free, which means they are not harmful to pollinators.

One long-standing favorite for me is Select Seeds in Connecticut. The mother-daughter nursery offers strictly flower seeds and plants. Many are native and pollinator friendly as well.

Digging Dog Nursery in California has an interesting array of hardy plants that have filled my shade gardens with unique plants. I resisted them for awhile but now have several years of ordering behind me and approve of their offerings and quality. Good customer service.

Trillium sessile, which means no stem because it blooms right from the leaves, is one of the pleasures of early spring.
Photo by Joan Weed. Trillium sessile, which means no stem because it blooms right from the leaves, is one of the pleasures of early spring.

Garden Vision Epimediums offered a small collection of special plants with emphasis on epimediums. I have also bought gentians, trilliums and uvularias from them. An intimate nursery. In doing research I learned that Karen Perkins is in the process of retiring. However, she is still offering her remaining inventory at select festivities in pop-up shops. She lists other nurseries that offer similar choices.

Sunshine Farms is located high in the hills of West Virginia. My experience with Barry Glick has been fine, though I read some not-so-kind reviews. Glick’s prices are the best for quantities, and I have gotten trilliums, yellow digitalis, uvularia and more from him. Buying groups of seven is the most economical. I tend to jump on special offerings from him rather than look at his site as a catalog. He’s quirky, and bought this way, you will know what is available now. Join his mail list to stay on top of things.

Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, is a very important source of seeds for heirloom vegetables. They do offer a small selection of flowers and grains as well. The organization is the storehouse for saved seed from generations of gardeners. Seed Savers have shared seeds from their collection with Kew Gardens in U.K. and Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. The very first use of saved seeds from the Norwegian Base was to replace Aleppo pepper seeds in Syria after the devastating war. This preserving of diversity in plant and animal genetics is a gift to humanity. You can purchase offerings from Seed Savers Exchange or from their thick catalogue filled with subscribers’ offerings. You must be a member to receive the catalogue but can order a limited number of items on their website.

Cricket Hill Nursery in Connecticut specializes in peonies and some rare native fruits. They have been in business for decades and I can attest to the well-grown peonies they offer. Herbal, tree and Itoh peonies can be found here.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in Missouri has a phone book’s worth of heirlooms and a reputation that is mentioned on social media to match. I was enticed by a new offering called brown sugar tomato. See? Now aren’t you excited about diving into the various catalogues and gardening sites?

Dreaming of warm weather and green shoots, keep hoping for your best garden yet.