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Seed and Plant Catalogues: Heralds of Spring

Updated on June 13, 2014
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren gardens in Pennsylvania, specializing in earth-friendly, unconventional, creative, joyful artistry at low cost.

Seed Catalogues

Gardeners' delights.
Gardeners' delights. | Source

Ben Franklin opined that the two certainties of mortal existence are death and taxes. I would like to add that the two certainties in the mail for the week between Christmas and New Year’s are tax forms and seed catalogues. The former causes the nose to wrinkle in disgust; the latter inspires the heart to leap with happy anticipation.

Seed Catalogues

By seed catalogue, I refer to wonderful paper publications of 30 plus pages which describe the plants which can be grown from their seeds or bare root plants. They may be presented in glossy paper or newsprint, with colored pencil sketches or photographs. The details matter little, because they burst with promise. Promise of what? The promise of gorgeous colors all over the yard – a yard which now lies under a blanket of either snow or frozen, dull grass. Additionally, they tantalize with the promise of fruits and vegetables produced by one’s own care and attention. It excites the spirit to nurture plants, living things, which can beautify the home environment or feed the body.

Advantages of Paper

One advantage of having catalogues is the ability to flip between several pages quickly – more quickly than clicking through pages on a website. I find it easier to compare prices or features of the same plant being offered by more than one vendor. Additionally, I can quickly flip back and forth between two plants I am considering in the same catalogue. Once I have made decisions I can also easily cut out the photograph to tape onto a graph of the garden plot.

More Flowers

Pink petunias and bud
Pink petunias and bud | Source

A Few Favorites

Seeds of Change

This company’s strength is in its seeds and tools. It guarantees that Oregon Tilth certifies its compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 monitored by the US Department of Agriculture.

Gardens Alive

The Gardens Alive! (yes, the exclamation point is point of the name) catalogue is full of environmentally friendly products for repelling pests and fertilizing plants. I had some qualms about including it in a list of seed/root catalogues because its focus traditionally leaned towards supporting the growth of plants, not offering them. However, cover crops, seeds and plants are now offered. Be advised: the earth-friendly fungicides, deer repellants, beneficial nematodes, lawn enhancers, and so on are tremendous. Furthermore, the catalogue gives detailed explanations of how the agent works and for what plants it is especially useful.

White Flower Farm

This company offers high quality plants. It also still offers a paper catalogue!

I can imagine few things nicer than browsing page by page through a seed catalogue on a sun bright, ice-covered January day. Try it, you may be convinced. Or, you could study that new tax return.

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Danette - too funny. Some of those little fellas may surprise you and live just for spite!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      I just received a catalog last week from Gurney's (the newsprint type). I'm not a big fan of gardening (don't really have a green thumb) but enjoy looking at them anyway to see what I want to kill each year :)

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @B.T. - rhubarb is one of those plants which is customarily sold by the bare root, rather than seeds. Burpee and Gurneys are 2 suppliers and there are many more.

      @randomcreative - yes, dreams of spring keep me going!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I loved looking through the seed catalogs that my mom got when I was growing up. I do online shop, but there is nothing like having a tangible catalog to flip through. Once Christmas is over, it's fun to start dreaming of spring sometimes.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Gloshei, thank you and a Happy New year to you also.

    • Gloshei profile image


      7 years ago from France

      Thanks a good insight for fellow gardeners, I guess it won't be that long before we are planting out the seeds and veggies.

      I am with you I too like flicking through pages instead of the web.

      THanks for sharing it with us.

      Happy New Year


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