Posts Tagged ‘seed catalogues’


What a rollercoaster ride this winter has been! We’ve had plenty of snow and strings of extremely cold days punctuated by record-breaking thaws. On Wednesday, January 30th, the previous Ottawa record of 5.6 degrees C was shattered when the temperature climbed to 11.6 C. Today, just over a week later, a major snowstorm has been sweeping through. The thaw had reduced our snow cover to a few inches. The photo above was taken in the morning as the storm was settling in for the day. By evening, we had a fresh mantle of snow nearly a foot deep.

It’s a taste of the winter weather extremes we can expect as climate change continues to take hold. There’s a good article on the role of climate change on winter weather linked here.


Fortunately, RailGuy and I didn’t have to travel anywhere today, and, except for periodic episodes of snowshovelling, spent a pleasant day indoors by the fire. It was an ideal day for a little winter gardening, browsing through all those delicious seed catalogues that arrived over the last month or so and imagining the return of the green world. It’s time to get seed orders placed.

One of the plants that has caught my eye when we have visited other gardens over the past few years is a flowering tobacco variety, Nicotiana sylvestris. It’s the white-flowered plant in the foreground of the border pictured below. This planting was featured at Parc Marie-Victorin in Kingsey Falls, Quebec, which I wrote about here.


Nicotianas (pronounced nih-koe-shee-AY-nah according to Fine Gardening magazine) are fragrant annuals suitable for full sun to partly shaded areas of the garden. Smaller varieties are usually available at most places that carry bedding plants in the spring, but I have never come across this larger member of the family, Nicotiana sylvestris. Consequently, I decided to try growing my own from seed this year, and have ordered a packet from Thompson & Morgan. After extensive perusal of the catalogue, I settled on Amaranthus caudatus ‘Fat Spike’ and a few other choice varieties to round out my order. I’ve dispatched my order and now I can sit back and dream of a perfect garden…without having to lift a finger. At least for now.


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By February, I find my thoughts turn more and more to spring and the new gardening season ahead. This is even more true this winter. The mild weather we’ve enjoyed recently has made it seem like warm spring days aren’t far away. It’s still a bit early for starting most seeds, but a perfect time for scrutinizing seed catalogues and making plans. For the purposes of daydreaming, it’s good to have a selection of catalogues to browse through. This year, I noticed an advertisement somewhere for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and decided to order a catalogue. You can request a copy via their website at rareseeds.com. Many seed catalogues are free. Baker Creek charges $5, but it proved to be a worthwhile investment!

The catalogue, which arrived promptly in my mailbox, is just beautiful! It’s more like a magazine than a catalogue, handsomely produced in full colour, with many gorgeous large photographs of an amazing array of heirloom plants. Very tempting for any gardener! In addition to seed listings, the catalogue includes interesting tidbits of information and short articles on topics such as saving tomato seeds. My favorite things to grow in the vegetable garden are tomatoes. There is absolutely nothing like a lush tomato, fresh from the vine.


This year, Fiddlegirl and I have agreed to share a pack of Sweet Gold seeds, a wonderful hybrid variety of cherry tomatoes that we have both grown in the past. And last year, Seabrooke had good results with Sub-Arctic Plenty. I’d like to try them this year. Others I am considering include Chocolate Stripes and Ananas Noir (aka Black Pineapple). Do you have a favorite tomato variety? I’d love to hear of your experience. Leave me a comment!

There are plenty of quality sources for seeds. I have catalogues from a variety of Canadian sources such as Veseys and Dominion Seedhouse and Stokes. Another great place to find interesting seed varieties is a Seedy event near you. Listings for Seedy Saturdays and Sundays can be found at the Seeds of Diversity site, linked here. In addition to an event listing, you’ll also find plenty of information about various seed sources across the country and news about heritage seed issues.


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January is my very favorite month for gardening. By January, the snow is deep on the ground. Even though we’ve been experiencing a bit of a January thaw over the last few days, there is still a blanket of white. But over in my mailbox, there are signs of spring! Seed catalogues, plant catalogues, and gardening magazines are sprouting, gearing up for the new gardening season.

When I stopped by the feed store to get grain for the horses and sunflower seed for the birds, there were lovely Ontario Seed Company (OSC) catalogues sitting there, free for the taking. Who could resist? Especially with that cute baby face on the cover. Not to mention the giant pumpkins, and what’s this? A new Rudbeckia? I probably should have that in my garden.

Ah, yes. January. When you can throw another log on the fire, sit back in your favorite chair and dream of your summer garden. Why, this year will be the best yet! This year, I’ll keep on top of those darn weeds. This year, I’ll keep the tomatoes from trailing on the ground. This year…. Yes, you can plan to your heart’s content, design, make lists, and all without lifting a finger. The spade is safely tucked away in the shed. No nagging back pain. It’s all good.

The list of catalogues you can have delivered to your mail box is long. Most of them are free, or cost a couple of dollars at most, a small price to pay for such pleasure. If you would like to indulge your fantasies, check out this site at Canadian Gardening. I used to get an assortment of catalogues when I was a newbie gardener. These days, I mostly settle for just a couple. Veseys, out in Prince Edward Island, kindly keeps me supplied with a delightful cornucopia of choice. The lovely, colourful catalogues are like candy for gardeners.

Just look at this spread of gladiolus! Oooo! Ahhhh! I don’t actually grow glads. They’re not hardy and I’m too lazy to dig them up and replant them the next year. But I sure do like to admire all the varieties in the catalogue.

Same thing with dahlias. Too much bother. But look at all those pretty faces! Mmmm, mmh. The kids are cute, too.
Then there are the perennials that I actually grow. I have several peony plants, but who wouldn’t want one of these dandies? And probably I could use some more phlox…

There are always a few exotics to tempt the gardener who might be craving something new and exciting. I was particularly taken with the jack-in-the-pulpit, especially Arisaema sikokianum. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia:

Hmm, let’s see. Arisaema sikokianum….69.95 each. Well. Maybe not this year. Maybe a new echinacea. The butterflies would like that.

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