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January follows fast on the heels of the holidays, and the cold days and dark nights inspire gardeners to dream winter dreams of the garden yet to be.  It first takes shape in our minds, aided and abetted by glossy seed and plant catalogs, as well as enticing e-mails, Instagram photos, and inviting websites.  In the Mid-Atlantic area, January is too soon to start most seeds, so these virtual and paper products give us much to consider while we plan the garden of 2024.  

When I speak at garden clubs, I am often asked which are my favorite seed sources.  We are fortunate to have so many options here in the United States, whether we seek heirloom varieties or the newest cultivar.  Many companies offer vegetable, flower, and herb seeds as well as gardening tools and even plants and plugs.  If you are seeking new seed varieties or new companies, here are five of my favorites.

Baker Seeds

Billing itself as “North America’s Largest Heirloom Seed Company,”  Baker Seeds also has a large collection of 19th Century heirloom varieties from Asia and Europe.   Founded in 1998, Baker Seeds has a headquarters and seed warehouse in Missouri, as well as a seed store in California.  They host the National Heirloom Exposition in California each year, and a tulip festival and other events at their farm in Missouri nearly every month.  You can request a free catalog, or purchase the mammoth Whole Seed Catalog for $14.95 – over 500 pages of beautiful photographs, heirloom varieties, recipes, and gardening tips.  Visit their website at www.rareseeds.com.

Botanical Interests

If you want the loveliest seed packets, order from Botanical Interests!  Every vibrant envelope has a full color illustrations, as well as growing information.  Founded in 1995, the company is located in Colorado, and they offer hundreds of varieties of flowers, vegetables, and herbs.  Botanical Interests is very community-minded, and they donate seeds to many schools, hospitals, and other organizations that promote the benefits of gardening.  Their catalog and website give detailed information about the variety and sowing techniques, and you can even create a wish list to remind yourself or others of what you are seeking.  Shop, request a free catalog, and learn more at www.botanicalinterests.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds 

In business for over 50 years, Johnny’s Selected Seeds is based in Maine.  They offer excellent customer service and the most detailed growing information I’ve seen for every seed they sell.  They also have an extensive “Grower’s Library” on their website that includes sections for various types of seeds, such as flowers, vegetables, and herbs, as well as videos and planning tools and calculators.  Their information is extremely helpful, especially to the novice gardener.  You can request a free catalog, visit their virtual library, and shop their website at www.johnnyseeds.com.

Seed Savers Exchange 

Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit organization founded in 1975 to preserve heirloom seeds for food and flowers.  Today, they have over 20,000 varieties at Heritage Farm in Iowa, and they invite members to participate by growing heirloom varieties themselves and saving seeds.  They are a terrific resource for unusual varieties.  You can request a free catalog, shop their seeds, tools, and gift items, make a donation, become a member, and sign up for their newsletter at www.seedsavers.org.

Select Seeds – Antique Flowers

With a strong emphasis on pollinator-friendly varieties, native plants, and sustainable environmental practices, Select Seeds – Antique Flowers was founded over 30 years ago to provide customers a source for old-fashioned and rare varieties.  They are located in Connecticut.  Each seed and planting list includes helpful information such as whether the variety is deer resistant or good for cut flowers.  They will supply free seeds to schools, master gardener projects, and extension services.  Send them a letter about your project at their website, shop their products, request a free catalog, and read their growing guides at www.selectseeds.com.

Those are my favorite seed companies for gardeners, and I hope you will take a look at one or more of them as you dream your 2024 garden.  I also hope your winter dreams blossom into beautiful gardens come spring, summer, and fall.  Do you have a favorite seed source? Tell me about it at [email protected].

Lisa Derx is a member of the American Daffodil Society, Membership Chair for the National Capital Dahlia Society, President of Chesapeake Flower Exchange, Local Flowers Liaison for the Independent Floral Designers Association, and a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers and the Maryland Cut Flower Growers Association.  Her home is in Dayton, Maryland, where she lives and grows flowers with her husband Dan and cat Sebastian.

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