Gardening: Seed catalogs offer ideas, inspiration

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

One of my new projects at the Stone House Garden in Rochester behind the senior citizen’s center is a pollinator garden. We will be doing a lot of direct seeding, so I’m going to be searching seed catalogs and websites for ideas this winter.

If you’re looking for seeds of little-known heirlooms and new varieties of flowers and vegetables, check out Margaret Roach’s website A Way to Garden at Her article, “Power-Shopping the Seed Catalogs, with Joseph Tychonievich,” is a great read. Tychonievich is a Michigan’s rock star in the horticulture world ( and put Tychonievich in the search window on the site.)

For the basics, Joseph and I agree these two catalogs/websites are good places to start.

Pinetree Garden Seeds (207) 926-3400; Paper catalog free. Good selection with the best prices on packets with smaller seed counts.

Johnny's Selected Seeds(877) 564-6697; Paper catalog free.

Maine-based, Johnny’s specializes in cold tolerant vegetable, herb and flower seeds that are flavorful, disease resistant and good producers. Tested in Maine and other locations around the country.

These are also on my list of faves. The catalogs and websites are jam-packed with growing tips and techniques as many sell seedlings.

Nichols Garden Seed Catalog (800) 422-3985; On-line catalog only. Specializes in seeds and plants for the gardener/cook. Lots of varieties suitable for container gardening selected by Rose Marie Nichols McGee, co-author of “The Bountiful Container” – a great guide to growing edibles in pots.

Renee’s Garden Seeds(888) 880-7228; Online catalog only. Great selection of seeds for heirloom and cottage flower gardens, herbs, and gourmet vegetables from around the world.

Botanical Interests Seeds(877) 821-4340: Paper catalog free. Large selection includes Asian veg, perennial flowers, organic seed and info packed seed packets.

Richter’s Herbs(800) 668-4372; Paper catalog free. A treasure trove for folks looking for the unusual. Richter’s offers mail-order plants as well as seeds, so don’t pass on this one even if you don’t grow from seed.

Peaceful Valley Organics (888) 784-1722 Catalog $2. A one-stop shop for the organic grower – seeds, fertilizers, bare root trees and tools.

Select Seeds –Antique Flowers (800) 684-0395; Paper catalog free. An interesting selection of both seeds and plants, specializing in heirloom flowers.

Seeds of Change(888) Paper catalog free. Purveyors of certified organic seeds and seedlings.

High Mowing Organic Seeds (802) 472-6174 Paper catalog free. Free shipping, no minimum. Sprouting seeds available at Whole Foods.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at