Garden Dreaming: 10 Awesome Plant and Seed Catalogs

Cynthia of Jordan Valley Home and Garden ClubThe winter blahs are in full swing for me right now. I even feel a little guilty about that since it’s actually been a bit TOO mild of a winter here (rain instead of snow in February?) but, it’s that long, gray season nonetheless. However, there are SOME bright spots! And they come in my mailbox- HOPE disguised as tiny seeds and offered up with pretty pictures in fabulous catalogs. I’ve created a list below of my personal favorites that I have ordered from multiple times. This year I’m adding two new ones as well- Dowdeswell Delphiniums (website, not a catalog) from New Zealand and Plant World Seeds . I’m expecting wonderful things from both!

10 awesome plant and seed catalogs for unusual and worthy plants for your garden.Whether you’re an experienced seed grower or just want to purchase some unusual plants, catalogs (and their accompanying websites) offer us a fantastic opportunity to obtain worthy plants that aren’t otherwise widely available.  I love curling up in my comfy chair with a blanket, something hot to drink, and a pile of garden-related catalogs! Ah, but what catalogs should you subscribe to?  See the list below for 10 awesome plant and seed catalogs that are some of our favorites:

Plant Catalogs:


1. High Country Gardens

After some ups and downs in the fumbling economy, High Country Gardens  closed their retail and catalog sales recently.  Luckily, the catalog portion of their business is BACK in business and so the amazing plants, some of which are unique to High Country Gardens, will be available to homeowners again. The business is owned by David Salman, a top-rated Horticulturalist who understands our challenging climate like few others.  David will be coming to Conservation Garden Park to speak in June 8th, 2013 as part of the annual Plant Sale so you’ll even have the opportunity to hear him in person if you so wish!


2. Digging Dog Nursery

Not all the plants from Digging Dog are hardy here in Utah but if you’re looking for something unusual, THIS is a great place to find it!  The catalog is a bit lacking as there are no photos- you sort of have to catalog gawk while Google image searching plant names BUT part of the joy of collecting gorgeous plants is the hunt to try and find them so just consider this a bit of an extra challenge!  It’s well worth it!  Two plants I’ve ordered in the past (and loved) from Digging Dog are Centaurea “Gold Bullion”- a gold-leaved version of Bachelor’s Buttons and the Golden Hops Vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’).


3. Forest Farm

If there is a catalog that has a larger selection of plants than Forest Farm, I’m sure I don’t know it.  I first received a copy of their catalog while on hospital bedrest when expecting my twins 12 years ago.  It was hundreds of pages of incredible information and came at the moment when I had nothing but time to pour over every page.  You probably don’t have that kind of time on your hands in which case you might prefer the online version of the catalog! Their print catalog does not have photos so it’s more of a horticultural reference.  The most significant plant I want that only they have? A variegated Catalpa tree.  Not sure where I’d put it but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming of having it!




4. Annie’s Annuals

Annie’s is out of California and specializes in annuals and perennials best fit to that climate.  However, most of the annuals she showcases would do well in summer gardens here so it’s still worth looking- and a bit tortuous as we get a hankering for all the amazing plants that won’t QUITE grow here every year.  I have found so many unique plants that I’m dying to try out like the turquoise-blue Lachenalia viridiflora or my long-desired Fairy Wand plant which MIGHT be over-winter-able (totally a word) in a good year but this is most certainly NOT a good year for that! Still there is an amazing horticultural assortment to enjoy and we were just dreaming anyway!



5. Heirloom Roses

This is NOT just a catalog, it’s an education!  Heirloom Roses grows every type of rose EXCEPT the sickly, fickle Hybrid Tea roses which dominate the retail trade.  The difference is that Heirloom Roses are grown on their own root systems (not grafted) and most varieties form full shrubs that don’t look naked when not in bloom.  I wasn’t much of a rose fan in my early gardening years- until I had occasion to visit their nursery and what I saw blew my mind- I had no idea how much MORE there was to roses.  Get the catalog, visit the website and if you’re ever in the Portland/Salem, Oregon area in June, you simply must make a visit to the nursery yourself.

Speaking of which, on a visit to the Pacific Northwest a few years back, I flew home a suitcase filled with nothing but their roses.  My Husband though I’d lost my ever-loving mind.  Yeah. They’re THAT good.  I am growing several of the English David Austen Roses including ‘Jude the Obscure’ , ‘Polka’, ‘Eden’, ‘The Alchemist’ and several others.

Vegetable Seed Catalogs

6. Baker Creek Heirloom

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed was started by Gere Gettle when he was just 17.  In the 12 years since, business has exploded as many of us are looking to grow non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) seed for our food crops.  The catalog features 1,400 varieties of heirloom seeds from all over the world.  Heirloom varieties were grown because of their natural flavor and performance.  Most supermarket veggies are bred for traits that will allow them to ship well or ripen in storage, taste is much less a concern.  Check out Baker Creek and grow yourself some tasty, healthy food!


 7. Territorial Seed

Territorial Seed has an extensive catalog with a gazillion cultivars, both hybrid and heirloom.  Whether you’re interested in delicious lettuces like the variety “Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed” or unique shapes and colors of pumpkins and squash for fall, Territorial has every imaginable variety and excellent customer service too.

Additionally, they offer some flower seed varieties, a great selection of garlic and information on how to grow all of them. Territorial is also a good source for garden products.



 7. Totally Tomatoes

The name is a BIT misleading as they offer more than tomatoes but tomatoes are most certainly the specialty.  Whether you’re looking for heirloom or hybrids, they have it.  My personal favorite tomatoes are all sold through this company and I order from them nearly every year.  If you haven’t grown a ‘Sungold’ or ‘Kelogg’s Breakfast’ heirloom tomato, you really ought to try them!  The catalog is well organized and the customer service is excellent.


Flower Seed Catalogs

 8. Thompson & Morgan

This is the first seed catalog I ever fell in love with!  I got my first copy of it in college (and I’m not saying how long ago that was) and I literally poured over it for hours drinking in all the possibilities, making lists and then new lists.  That is the fun of it, you know.  T&M has lots of great seed but I go to them primarily for seed for perennial and annual flowers.

T&M is a British company that works hard to ensure there is a constant addition of new seeds to be had and enjoyed.  That’s rather a big deal anymore as most plant breeding is moving toward things that can be vegetatively propagated as it yields more profit to the grower/breeder than things that can be grown from seed.


9. Swallowtail Seeds

Swallowtail Seeds is a huge catalog of all sorts of gorgeous plants.  I think they’re best at flower seed but they have a big selection of vegetable seed too.  I am especially enamoured of the Foxglove seed!  They offer organic seed and some very unusual cultivars.  They are also a source for unusual cultivars like the ornamental corn ‘Earth Tones Dent’ which boasts kernels in a half dozen pastel shades for decoration.  They are purveyors of the decorative corn ‘Field of Dreams’ which we recommended as one of the 13 for 2013 plants.



10. Jelitto Seed

If you’re really serious about growing some of your own perennial flowers, international seed powerhouse Jelitto is the place to order.  Many growers and nurseries get the seed for their plants from Jelitto and their selection is near-overwhelming.  Perfect for pursing on a cold, icky January day!


You don’t need a fancy greenhouse to grow plants from seed at home.  All it takes is a little research and a few products and you’re off and running.  Perhaps the most economical way of growing seed at home is called the “Winter Sowing” method and involves ordering seed early and letting Mother Nature do most of the work.  We’ll post more about that later.  For now, get yourself some catalogs or visit a few websites and start dreaming!

Thank you so much Cynthia for sharing this wonderful information! You have such a wealth of knowledge that I gleen so much from you! You can find Cynthia at the Jordan Valley Home & Garden Club where you can find fantastic information and DIY projects for the home and garden.

Have a wonderful weekend!

– Cynthia and Jen

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