In the Garden:
Web-based and printed resources give you the opportunity to locate just about any plant you want.
To Everything There is a Source
Whew! That was a close one. I almost didn't get this column written while researching it, as I was just about sucked into the never-ending vortex of Web links. Not that wandering down the yellow brick road of links isn't fun, but you can lose whole days doing that. Still, as serious winter has finally descended upon us, I guess there could be worse fates. Certainly, there won't be time for it soon, as seed-starting is just around the corner (Okay, I'm an optimist.)
The premise for my search was mail-order sources of plants and seeds. Not that we aren't already being deluged with catalogs, but there is such a wealth of plants and gardening supplies available by mail that it seems a pity not to maximize the opportunities.
The logical place to start is the Mailorder Gardening Association (http://www.mailordergardening.com). Although its membership doesn't include all companies, the association certainly provides a one-stop place to find sources. Gardening catalogs and publications are divided by categories, including annuals, bulbs, perennials, aquatic plants and water garden, exotic plants and flowers, garden supplies, seeds, fruit trees and berries, decorative accessories, greenhouses and indoor gardening supplies, ornamental trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines, grasses, roses, herbs, and vegetables.
The association also has information on plant terminology, how to be a smart shopper, how to take care of plants when they arrive, a hardiness zone map, and a kids' garden grant program.
For those interested in antique (heirloom) vegetables, flowers, and herbs, here again there is a logical starting point: Seed Savers Exchange (http://www.seedsavers.org). This nonprofit repository of heirloom seeds has allowed a living legacy to be passed down through generations. The exchange has both an online and a traditional paper catalog available to anyone. Those who become members receive the annual Seed Saver's Yearbook, which makes available more than 11,000 rare varieties of vegetables, fruits, and grains. A separate membership is available for the Flower and Herb Exchange, with its 2,000 varieties.
Fruits and Nuts
Seed Savers Exchange also has published an invaluable reference for anyone interested in growing fruit and nut crops. The Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory, Third Edition, edited by Kent Whealy (Seed Savers Exchange, 2001; $24.00) includes descriptions of 6,471 varieties. At the end of each description is a coded list of every current source.
In a variation on a theme, the Combined Rose List is compiled and edited annually by Beverly R. Dobson and Peter Schneider. It lists every rose in commerce (with codes describing each one), as well as sources. Copies are available for $20.00 from Peter Schneider, P. O. Box 677, Mantua, OH 44255.
The Mother of All Sources
Been looking all over for that Gongora truncata? Well, look no further. It's available from the Hoosier Orchid Company. How did I know? By looking it up in the Andersen Horticultural Library's Source List of Plants & Seeds, 6th Edition (Andersen Horticultural Library, 2004; $34.95). This 368-page book, with very small print, lists plants from hundreds of catalogs dating from 2000 to 2004, with codes for both retail and wholesale sources. For more up-to-date information, the library offers, for a $39.94 annual fee, Web access to Plant Information Online (http://plantinfo.umn.edu/arboretum/info/default.asp), which gives sources and citations for over 88,000 plants.
No longer can you say, "Gee, I just can't find the plants I want."
Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!