National Mail-order Gardening Month

The Direct Gardening Association has designated January as National Mail Order Gardening Month. Does this seem strange? After all, winter has barely started, and the ground in many places won’t be ready to plant for several months. Yet, gardeners are eternal optimists.

Mail order seed companies have a long history in the United States. When you order from a seed catalog, you are engaging in a time-honored winter ritual. One of the most recognizable names in the mail-order business, Burpee, was founded in 1876 in Philadelphia. W. Atlee Burpee sought the best seeds from the United States and Europe, following leads to strange and faraway places, and his mail order business quickly grew to a national level.

Although local garden centers are the most likely places to stock the best varieties for your area, they are limited in their offerings. Catalogs are a great way to get plants that are special, new, rare or hard to grow. Your local garden center can’t stock three hundred colors of daylilies or iris or every kind of peony, but somewhere out there is a grower with a catalog who does have all the plants you want.

When you buy from a catalog, you must first know what hardiness zone you live in. If you need to find yours, the US Department of Agriculture has one on the Web here. For vegetables, you will also want to note whether they are hybrids, which are hardier, or heirloom, for which you can save the seeds from year to year.

The best part of catalogs for me is that you can find exotic plants. I have grown purple tomatoes, green zebra tomatoes, pink tomatoes, and yellow tomatoes, in addition to the normal red ones. Already I have been looking online and dreaming about this summer’s garden. I can’t wait to get those seeds sprouting!

Wishing you a great garden next summer.

Quotes about gardening

Gardening grows the spirit.–Barbara Mock

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.–Author Unknown

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.–Robert Brault

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.–Marcelene Cox

The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.–Joel Salatin

The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.–Vera Nazarian

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.–Liberty Hyde Bailey

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.–Marcus Tullius Cicero

The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.–Gertrude Jekyll

Garden as though you will live forever.–William Kent

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.–May Sarton

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.–Rudyard Kipling

Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.–Alfred Austin

Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.–Edward Flaherty

Everything is mended by the soil.–Andrew Crofts

Gardeners, I think, dream bigger than emperors.–Mary Cantwell

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.–H. Jackson Brown

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