Mail-order seed catalogues useful

By Melanie Mathieson
The Gardening Guru

Gardening season is just around the corner so I always use the last few days of winter for some garden planning.
One of the best ways to plan is by using seed catalogues and seed company websites.
Mail-order seed catalogues are a useful tool for any seasoned gardener. You can use them for reference about plants as they often give lengthy descriptions for each one and its growing needs.
If you receive catalogues in the mail, keep them all year-round as a good reference source if you have any questions about a certain plant.
Ordering through the mail, meanwhile, is a good way to add varieties that are not available locally. If you would like to order from a company, make sure they have full contact information and guarantee their products.
As with any company, beware of gimmicks such as a whole garden for $19.99 or win $100,000, etc. The products from these companies usually is very poor and they will not refund your money if there is a problem.
So stick to the mail-order companies that have been in business for many years, and offer a good-quality product and a guarantee for their products.
As well, mail order is a great way to add the latest perennials or other plants as they become available on the market, or to get some great gardening supplies or tools not available locally.
Often a plant grower will “debut” a new variety with a selected mail-order company the first year and then will distribute it to nurseries for the next growing season (that’s the reason why our local nurseries do not always have the new plant that you saw in a catalogue).
This is a great way to get something unusual for your garden ahead of your friends.
An added bonus is that you may be able to get seeds, which are very economical and you can grow yourself, or you may order a plant already established.
I often will order seeds of perennials that are not necessarily rated to grow in our zone. By ordering seeds, you are not spending a lot of money on a perennial that may not make the winter.
Some perennials in the higher zones, like some of the varieties of bamboo, pampas grass, other perennial grasses, and lavenders, make great annual plants in our zone.
If you plant the seeds like annuals, you will get some great results for little investment and have fun in the process.
Some plants are just not available on the open market. Many of my varieties of bearded irises, for instance, have been mail-ordered. I have more than 30 varieties of irises now in my gardens and many of the them are exclusive to certain companies or iris growers.
If you have a favourite perennial flower, there probably is a grower for that flower in Canada. There are some growers that just grow hostas, day lilies, lilies, canna lilies, irises, and roses—and these growers have many varieties for you to choose from.
By following these few tips, you will have great success with mail-order companies.
Whether you use your seed catalogues strictly as reference material, the pictures for garden or landscape planning, or as a great source to find unusual varieties of plants, you can spend hours looking at the many catalogues and websites available today.
So chase away the winter blues–think spring and curl up with a seed catalogue or doing research on the Internet. You’ll be glad you did.