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The joys (and perils?) of seed catalogs

It all began years ago on a cold, dark dreary January day.

The mail arrived and mixed in among the bills from the holiday’s overspending was my first Garden seed catalog, filled with photos of beautiful flowers and plants from all over the world. 

I was beyond thrilled and excited as I poured over the pages, checking out each photograph, reading and re-reading each description. I have to admit, I coveted those plants, and I just knew I had to place an order for a few of these beautiful plants.

The plants came later, and then more catalogs arrived, and more dreaming, ordering more plants, and still more catalogs arrived. I was receiving catalogs for seeds, trees and shrubs, perennials, bulbs and even greenhouses. The seed catalog companies had tracked me down and they knew I was addicted.

What I’ve learned

Some important lessons about ordering from catalogs:

— Always check their guarantee/replacement policies. Some catalogd list as their guarantee that the plants will arrive alive.

Many plants are shipped dormant and if the company doesn’t guarantee the products to leaf out when planted in the spring, then don’t order from them.

— Check the shipping date policy, as many mail order nurseries in the northern states will take orders for deferred shipment.

The best nurseries will ship their product at just the right time for planting in your planting zone. For example, you might order in January but they will ship your plants in March or April.

— Don’t order just based on prices: “You don’t get something for nothing.”

If you see a 5-foot tree advertised for $2.99, you should inquire about if it has roots and their guarantee!

Watch out for your own eagerness

With today’s computer and internet access, you can go online and look at plants, but there is nothing more rewarding to a gardener / plant lover than to see January arrive along with those catalogs.

Remember, if you do place an order from just one, that catalog company will be sharing your name and address with other companies and very soon your mailman will be bringing more catalogs in the mail regularly.

Next thing you know you’ll be tempted to try “Navy Blue Rose” or a garden scooter or maybe even build your own greenhouse!

One positive thing you can always do with your numerous catalogs is to grind them up for compost.

Some favorite catalogs

A list of my favorite catalogs I truly enjoy receiving and have had very good results when ordering.

— Logees (also a favorite of Martha Stewart). I love the pictures and information.
Once, I ordered a specific begonia and when it arrived it was in perfect health but it wasn’t what I had ordered. When I called the company to inform them of the issue, they immediately sent a replacement of the correct plant and told me to keep the first one. I’ve continued to be a good catalog customer of theirs.

— A catalog company enjoyed by many gardeners is Plants Delights. Their cover is different every year and always very educational.

— If you’re looking for a good seed catalog, the Seed Savers Exchange always has some unusual seeds.

So if you’re lonely and need something to do on those cold winter days, all you need to do is order a seed or plant catalog and you’ll keep yourself happy and entertained with dreams and wishes of beautiful plants to come.