My desk is buried under this year’s onslaught of garden catalogs. Each day’s mail brings a few more, and I can’t resist reading them cover to cover. While I like reading catalogs from all over the country, I tend to favor Northwest catalogs that offer options that fit our climate with its short seasons and hot, dry summers. Here are a few of my favorites:
Nichols Garden Nursery and Territorial Seeds
For vegetable seeds, particularly hard to find varieties, I like Nichols Garden Nursery and Territorial Seeds.
Nichols is based in Albany, Ore., and has been in the same family since about 1950. The catalog offers an eclectic mix of rare, unusual and heirloom varieties of herbs, vegetables and flowers favored by cooks. Many aren’t available anywhere else. The owners, Rose Marie Nichols-McGee and Keane McGee, seek out seeds from many sources and then extensively test them in their garden in Albany. Beyond seeds, they also offer herbal teas, winemaking, home-brewing and cheese-making supplies.
Territorial Seed is just down the road from Nichols in Cottage Grove, Ore. Their 44-acre test garden in the foothills of the Cascades has the same frost dates as Spokane so their seed descriptions don’t need much translating to work here. They offer an extensive list of vegetables, fruits and flowers with detailed information on how to grow them. A special feature of this catalog is the notes on varieties of seed that will work well in urban living spaces or anywhere you need a small plant.
Both nurseries support organic agriculture offering only untreated seed, many of which are produced organically. They both back the Safe Seed pledge to not knowingly sell transgenic or genetically modified seed.
High Country Gardens
One of my favorite perennial catalogs is from High Country Gardens. This company specializes in waterwise, hardy perennials. If you are thinking about moving toward a more sustainable style of gardening that respects our limited water supply, but still want a colorful, season-long garden, this is the catalog to get. I keep copies from past years around for reference. One of its best features is the pre-planned gardens that take all the guessing out of what plant goes with what. This is a great way to take that first step toward a new gardening ethic.
One Green World
I am somewhat partial to unusual varieties of fruit so it’s fun to go through the One Green World catalog. This catalog specializes in unusual varieties of berries, fruit and nut trees, vines and ornamental trees from around the world. Ever heard of an edible barberry or dogwood (Cornelian cherry)? Many of them come from cold climates and would do well here. There are even some old Northwest-bred varieties of strawberries and raspberries that are getting hard to find. If you have a small garden, check out the columnar apples. They are perfect for those tight spaces where you still want a small tree.
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