A high-quality seed or plant catalog can be as helpful as a gardening textbook. The best catalogs aren’t simply trying to sell, they’re hoping to educate.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few of my favorite mail-order sources. I’ve noted those that do an especially good job of educating their readers:
- Rare Find Nursery: This New Jersey nursery is an especially good source for a wide variety of azaleas and rhododendrons. Their growing tips are so clear and helpful, they might encourage some gardeners NOT to buy. It seems clear to me that Rare Find only wants to sell you a special plant if you have the right place for it and some knowledge of how to care for it. I discovered them when I was looking for a source for winterberry shrubs with more unusual gold and salmon-colored berries.
- B&D Lilies: Apparently, Tasha Tudor bought her lily bulbs here. Enough said.
- Seed Savers Exchange: I’ve mentioned this organization and their special catalog in many places over the years. Wonderful heirloom varieties, including their fascinating histories. I have enjoyed seeing more heirloom flowers in this catalog in recent years. Also a helpful resource for learning about seed saving: both why and how to do it.
- Brent and Becky’s Bulbs: They sell more than bulbs, but this family-owned business in Virginia is one of the best sources for quality daffodils, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs.
- Park Seed: I always seem to buy at least a few seed packets from this company every year. Simply put, they seem to carry the particular flower and vegetable varieties I want. When I can’t find exactly what I want anywhere else, I’m usually satisfied here.
- Bower&Branch: Gorgeous, inspiring website and catalogs. Innovative sales model. I scroll their tree listings just for fun. Each one tells the story of a tree and makes me long to find room for it around my home.
- Pinetree Garden Seeds: Great selection and amazing prices. Don’t miss this one if you are trying to grow more food or flowers for less.