What’s great about Johnny’s is the amount of information they give about the plant. It’s like a mini gardening reference book. And they generally show how the plant actually grows. I hate it when catalogs lump a bunch of blossoms together to get you to fall in love and buy it, only to end up disappointed because each plant only produces a few spikes for a few weeks. Johnny’s usually tells you all that. Handy and honest. And I get my orders within a few days! Just amazing. Thompson and Morgan is a great catalog to look at, and often has unusual seeds, but last year my $160 order from Johnny’s arrived three days later, but the two packets I ordered from T&M the same day took three weeks! So they do not have my business any more.
My other favorite is Pinetree. I like this one because they are frugal, with a non-shiny catalog and simpler pictures, so it feels more like a small business (which Johnny’s is, too, just a bigger small business!) and they seem to cater to the smaller grower. If you only want to grow a few plants, you have to pay $3.95 for a whole packet at most places. Pinetree will offer you 25 seeds for $1.25, or 50 seeds for $1.50. And their shipping is so cheap! I wish I could have ordered more from them and less from Johnny’s, but there were some specific varieties they didn’t carry, darn it.
However, I advise you to check your local Agway or supermarket before ordering from anywhere. Wherever they sell packets of seeds, you may find what you need at the same price or better, and best of all, no shipping! After spending happy weeks gazing longingly at catalogs full of color, I took my handy dandy list to the Agway and got half my seeds there, and a much better bang for my buck. For instance, I wanted Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy, a lovely red version of Black Eyed Susan. Johnny’s offered 100 seeds for $4.70, but Pinetree offered 20 for $1.50. Since my needs are small, Pinetree looked like a real deal. But then I went to the Agway and found a packet of 250mg for $1.39. Well, it sure felt like more than 20 seeds! In fact, I sat down at home and counted them– over 270! Yes, I’m that silly when I want to make a point. Hare’s Tail Grass? Pinetree had 50 seeds for $1.35, but the 300mg packet from Agway had over 300 seeds for $1.99! Love-in-a-Mist, Bachelor Buttons, Love-Lies-Bleeding, all over 400 seeds for under $2. I won’t bore you with my other great deals for which I patted myself on the back (although more than one child walked through the kitchen thinking Mom was absolutely loony to count tiny seeds just to make sure she'd actually saved a few dollars. "You’re doing what?" But how else would I know how many seeds are in 250 mg?) Anyway, point is, usually picking up packets by weight is a better deal, except for really large seeds like sunflowers, borage, and hyacinth bean. Most of the seeds I bought were by Botanical Interests, which has a lovely website.
I am so excited to be thinking about starting seeds in a few weeks! I’ll save my thoughts on my little flower business for another blog entry, but ogling flower catalogs and rereading my gardening books help me get through the cold gray months. I am SO glad I don’t live any farther north!