Is your mailbox filling up with mail order garden catalogs? Then it must be time to start dreaming of spring gardening.
The beginning of the year is typically when companies that sell garden seeds and plants start mailing their new catalogs. This tradition is so well entrenched that, back in the 1990s, the trade association that represents mail order garden catalogs had January officially declared National Mailorder Gardening Month. (February also brings its share of new catalogs, too!)
In the past 15 years, the internet has changed the way many of us buy seeds, plants and tools for our gardens. For most “mail order” companies, the majority of orders are now placed online on their websites. Very few people actually order through the mail, but all of the products are still mailed (or sent via UPS and FedEx) to the customers.
Even in the 21st century, the most effective way to get shoppers to visit gardening websites to place orders is to send them a catalog filled with colorful photos of luscious vegetables and enticing flowers. That’s why millions upon millions of garden catalogs arrive in mailboxes this time of year.
“Clearly, the first part of the year is not the gardening season in most of the USA, but it is when people start wishing they could spend more time outside in their yards,” said Randy Schultz, a Master Gardener and president of Schultz Communications, a Santa Fe-based marketing company. “Garden catalogs are ‘wish books’ and planning tools, and they give gardeners a sneak peek at what their spring gardens can look like. The start of a new calendar year is when garden lust begins.”
Orders for new varieties of seeds and plants begin flooding into “mail order” gardening companies in January, even though most orders won’t ship for many weeks. “Sometimes the newest varieties of seeds and plants sell out right away, so you need to place your orders now to avoid missing out on the new plants,” said Schultz.
Here’s a quick look at some of the best mail order garden catalogs this spring.
Logee’s—Perhaps the best source for tropical plants. Logee’s is based in Connecticut (not exactly tropical!), but they’ve been selling tropical and fruiting plants via mail order for more than 100 years. Check out their selection of citrus plants that can grow indoors in containers. www.logees.com
Park Seed—This catalog might be best known for vegetable seeds, but it also includes flower seeds, berry plants, fruit trees and more. New for 2015 are the multicolor Parks Beauty Blend Radish seeds, several new varieties of hybrid tomatoes and dozens of more cool new varieties. www.parkseed.com
Wayside Gardens—Since 1920, this catalog has offered unusual, high-quality plants and accessories for the avid gardener. New plants for 2015 include the stunning tri-color Mariandl Primrose, an elegant white version of bleeding hearts called Love Hearts Dicentra, and Climbing Carolina Aster. www.waysidegardens.com
Harris Seeds—You can find everything from seeds for sprouts to seeds to plant in your vegetable and flower beds from Harris Seeds. Also check out their organic seeds and organic growing supplies. www.harriseeds.com
High Country Gardens—Known for introducing new perennials that thrive in a wide variety of growing conditions including drought, heat and infertile soils. Its 2015 Plant of the Year is Salvia ‘Little Night,’ a tiny version of one of the world’s most popular perennials, Salvia ‘May Night.’ www.highcountrygardens.com
Burpee—This grand American catalog has been around since 1876, and it still delivers great new vegetable and flower varieties every year. This year’s new crop includes Cupcake Hybrid Summer Squash and a new tomato called Jersey Boy that’s a hybrid of a Brandywine and a Rutgers. www.burpee.com
Jackson & Perkins—Known primarily for roses, J&P also sells flowering perennials, garden planters and containers, outdoor furniture, bird houses and flowering gifts. Check out the new multicolor Daring Spirit™ Hybrid Tree Rose that’s cool enough to make anyone a rose lover. www.jacksonandperkins.com
So, ladies and gentlemen, what are you waiting for? Start your catalogs!