2011 Catalog Shopping

Happy holidays to all -
It's the time of year to start looking at all of the teasing seed and plant catalogs. I really don't have a hot, must-have list this year so I'm looking for input. Any stand-outs from this past growing season that can take varying degrees of shade?
Very bizarre the way all of the snow has melted in the past 48 hours and woke to thunder and lightning this morning. Maybe it's our January thaw coming early. Sigh - 3 months until spring.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I too awake to thunder.. not sure if there was lightening as all my drapes were drawn....

anyhoo, i've only gotten Bluestone so far.. But I think this year I may be adding some Caladiums to my shade gardens this year.

Happened on a thread in the Shade Garden forum - and that got my interest going for these.
here is the thread http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1146384/

I did see that thread. I haven't done much with caladiums in the past except to plant a couple in pots. I'm wondering if they'll grow as lushly in my crummy soil.
I've been looking at the White Flower Farm catalog for ideas and new plants (to look elsewhere for better prices) and have a JL Huntsman seed catalog I want to go through as well as Bluestone. I've also got a T&M but it's pretty much the same old stuff.

Duh - I meant JL Hudson - not Huntsman.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

A few things have caught my eye this year so far. I noticed in one catalog (can't remember which one though, darnit) that they were selling seeds for the King Kong series of coleus. I grew one last year (purchased at a nursery) and got TONS of comments on it. I'd love to try growing some from seed. And coleus in my experience have been very easy to grow from seed.

I'm also looking at the various rudbeckias again. I've seen 'Cherry Brandy' (I think that's the name) in a couple of catalogs, and that one's caught my eye. I see some places selling it as a perennial and some as an annual. I'll treat it as an annual, and if it returns I'll feel lucky. Other rudbeckias also always catch my eye--'Cherokee Sunset,' 'Autumn Colors' (which I grew last year and which was gorgeous), etc. And they take a lot more shade than you'd think they would. Mine get only 3 hours or so of direct sunlight and then diffused light for the rest of the day and they do just fine and bloom prolifically.

Oh, and tcs...if you woke to thunder, then there was lightning somewhere. Can't have thunder without it. ;)

The only Coleus I've ever tried from seed was 'Pallisandra' (sp?) because it wasn't available in local nurseries. I tend to pick a few that I like rather than the mixed varieties from local nurseries and then do cuttings at the end of the year. Those King Kong varieties are huge and make a big statement. I did do 'Cherry Brandy' two years ago but in my crummy soil, it was rather a spindly thing. One or two did survive the winter though. Still working on the soil in that bed. Did some buried spot composting but it still needs more improvement. Going to try to run all of the leaves from spring cleanup through the chipper/shredder and put them down with some coffee grounds (I'm stockpiling those outdoors in a big cracked pot) and see if that helps some.
All of the new Heucheras and Echinaceas are jumping off the page at me but I haven't committed to buying any yet since they tend to be pricey. Last year I bought a few Epimediums which kinda blew my budget for the year.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Epimediums are pricey things--why is that? Are they just difficult to cultivate? My one plant will be going on its third season for me this spring. Last spring it was glorious when it flowered, and I love the burnished leaves in the fall. I just wish it spread faster so I could divide it and spread the love to other parts of my garden, but it's not much bigger than it was when I got it. (Fortunately, the plant I started with was a pretty substantial size. 2 gallon container, I think.)

They are pricey and I had to really decide last year if I wanted to go in that direction. I do stop short of paying over $25 per plant although some of the new varieties are very tempting. Munchkin has some at pretty reasonable prices. They are a little slow in spreading which I guess is a good thing. Otherwise, they'd turn into those groundcover thugs that some of us have grown to hate. :) I bought my first ones back in the 90's from Shady Oaks (when they were still doing retail) and I have chopped pieces off of them over the years. They're usually very reliable getting established but do need adequate moisture the first year. I love the spring flowers as well and it's always a race for me to get the fall leaves off of them and cut down the previous year's foliage before they start blooming. I leave the foliage on over the winter primarily because I'll use it as fillers for fall flower arrangements.

Bolingbrook, IL(Zone 5a)

Did someone say catalogs?? I have about 15 of them and have been so happy looking through them. I ordered several things already - I could not stand to wait and needed that ray of hope anyway. Most of what I bought came from Big Dipper Farms, including a Colocasia Escuelenta which is a Thailand Giant Strain (read Elephant Ear) I know it cannot be a perrineal but I love them. Usually I plant one and take it inside in the basement dark, then replant it in the next spring. Eventually the bulb just rots or dies but to me it is worth it. This is one particular strain I have never had before. In fact I have never even seen it before. The leaves can grow up to 48 inches across. I love big unusual plants. Also I ordered two Jack in the Pulpit types (cannot rememer the name now) so I am all fired up for spring.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Ruth -- thankfully i dont get a lot of catalogs anymore... i used to get more -- but that's OK.
I try to grow most of my own plants by seed.

never had EE's before. at home [Itasca] I dont have a lot of shade for them. Maybe i'll try them up north... where I have a lot of shade - but it's zone 4.

I've always been fascinated by elephant ears and have been leaning more towards those tender tropicals for summer pots. I might just succumb to some impulse buying this afternoon. Spending a little time making up a shopping spreadsheet. I've just been focused on seeds initially but I'm seeing some plants as well that I wouldn't mind having. And there's an Asian JIP that I'd love to get but it's been a little on the pricey side.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

In another thread someone tipped me off to Swallowtail Garden Seeds (http://swallowtailgardenseeds.com). Nice assortment of seeds and I'm told shipping is only $3.95. Just thought I'd pass that along.

I just started a few herb seeds to pass the time until I get rolling with seed starting in earnest. I figured I'd grow some in containers indoors. So, I have one row of flourescents on my seed starting setup lit, at least. ;)

Kayly - nice website. Thanks for passing it along.
I too have been considering starting some herb seeds. My poor parsley plants in pots are a couple of years old and I really should have replaced them last year. I just keep cutting off the flowers. I've got a few grow lights going for some cuttings that I've potted up. Our winter days are just too gloomy to not get the lights fired up. I need to get busy with any seeds I need to stratify and get them in the fridge since I don't do winter sowing.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I love the Swallowtail site. i've never bought from them - but view it all the time.

a month or so ago I bought some from Dianes seeds. good stuff too, she had the Lavender Haze Agastache i was looking for.

This message was edited Jan 11, 2011 10:56 AM

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Cindy, which seeds are you going to start cold stratifying now? I was thinking of getting rolling on some delphiniums (although mine didn't germinate last year) and maybe some hellebores. But whenever someone says, "I'm starting these seeds now..." it gives me ideas. :)

Seems like I sow columbine every year, mostly from collected seed, so those will go in the fridge in the next week or so. I usually give them 3 weeks in damp paper towels or unbleached coffee filters in the fridge. Thinking about larkspur since I'll want to put out sizeable plants to get established before it gets too hot. Browallia will probably get sown as well although they don't need the cold treatment but they're kinda like impatiens - need lots of growing time before planting out. Also need to get new seeds ordered soon in case any of them need stratifying. Have to check if I have any Echinacea to start since they normally need a cold treatment as well. I think I used all of my Delphinium tricorne seeds last year (no sprouts) because they need two cold treatments.
tcs - You're way ahead of me on seed ordering. I'm never ready to order until after the holidays. Will also have to check out Diane's. Thanks for the info.
Earned a couple of hours of seed/plant shopping this afternoon after shoveling driveway - my reward.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Cindy -- i generally do not order seeds. but I had been looking for Lavender Haze Agastache, and no one on DH had it listed in their "Haves" -- so i went searching on line. Dianes had it, and a coupla Penstemons that looked interesting.

so i only bought 4 seed varieties this year... i always participate in a huge seed swap ... have about 50 varieties coming next week. waaaaaaaay more than i need.,


Terese - Great score! I haven't really collected or saved seed with swaps in mind. Maybe I should. :)

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

i just started seriously saving seed for swaps ..then got overwhelmed by the whole thing ..LOL I dont know latin names and that is bad for me..Had to look up Agastache ?? (salvia) see I dont even remember it now ?? OMG LOL im not giving up.. but id better start trading before they get old !!!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I was the same way too... that is where a spreadsheet comes in handy... the "base" for mine was actually Tom Clothiers.... i had his as a template of sorts -- deleted what i didnt want and added what i wanted.

there are still seeds i have no clue the scientific name... but when i have both in there - i can look/search for it.

When I started in spring of 07, i had no clue... here is it 4 yrs later and i know some, but certainly not A LOT by anymeans... but i can look it up.
thats another great thing about PlantFiles... all that info right there.

It just takes time.

For trading... if you at least know ONE of the names, common or latin, you can look the rest up... and for trading, it's best to have the scientific/latin name because then you can find any info on it... where common names are sometimes used for different plants. But if you know what it is, you can figure out the latin name and put that on the seed baggy. and it all works out in the end.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

I just was at that site ,put it in my favs,great Information Thank You Again.but now I see I still will be spending alot of $$ on mix !!!! Well right now anyway,untill I get to Ft. Wayne.sounds like I will be fine with what Ive got..Wish me luck.Im diving in LOL

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

you guys get a lot of snow?? yesterday the weather channel had some guy standing - doing a report from some county Rd in IN somewhere... didnt look like a lot of snow, but blowing .... flat lands will do that.

I heard teh lake effect in NE IN was bad. we didnt get too much 3-4" tops.

just be careful out there.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Oh... i forgot to add...

yea, Clothier's site is great... TONS of info. I found a lot of it very helpful since he's from Chicago... so similar growing conditions.

Hugger - be careful on that drive!
Didn't realize Clothier was from Chicago. I've had his database linked on my computer for years. Between Clothier and Deno I can usually find most of the info that I need for seed starting. Sorry to say that I am a botanical name creature. Just got in the habit years ago and it's saved me from making mistakes. Did you know that in TN, they call daffodils "buttercups"? That was very confusing for me.
It's stopped snowing (for the moment) and hoping the lake effect snow has moved east at last. We had light snow all day yesterday and last night. I'm guessing we've got 6+ inches. The driveway got shoveled twice yesterday and I'll be out there again today. Getting in shape for spring.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

cindy -- what's the deno site??

There's a thread over in Seed Germination about Deno's books now in public domain. There are a few links over there to access the different editions. He doesn't publish anymore but I did get all 3 of his books before he "retired". I think you can also access it from Clothier's site but I didn't look.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)


Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

We ended up getting maybe 5 inches,we really didnt get any wind ,but other areas may have.We got another layer of lake effect today ,enough to have to clean it up again.Yes we have gotten most of our snow from LE this which is odd,I think when I was a kid we got a lot of it,then weather patterns changed,now again ??? We went years with little or no snow,maybe 1 big snow .Not like when we were kids there was always snow knee deep to adults ??

Ahhh - no snow shoveling today. A lot of the LE snow has just missed us for the past two years. It's usually just a matter of 10 miles or so east of here that's been getting hit pretty hard. Glad I don't live in South Bend.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

and it's ironic... when i was a kid i always wanted to live in MI or N. INd because of all the snow...
and Tamara... you are right, we did have a lot more when we were kids... not like now.

Please - talking this way will bring on a repeat of '67 blizzard. :)

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I only heard about that one... i was living in St Louis... but i was also only 1.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

Dang do I remember that ??? I was 7 ??? The 1 I remember the most is 78,DH dropped me off at work 3rd shift,waitress truckstop,was there 17hrs,till I could get home less than a 1/2 mile..300 people stuck at the TS for a week or more,they plowed a path to my door soo the sheriff could come get me and take me too work,police escort !!!! ha ,didnt make any money for 10 days they were all Broke !!!! it was something for sure,was glad I worked 3rd,we watched TV an drank hot coco with schnapps !!! played cards !!! it was fun !!! I was like 19.... it was crazy the TS sat right on US 30 so we were watching the whole thing unfold,drifts were 20 ft high in places..Memories

Was the '78 blizzard the one with the 80 below wind chills due to the high wind? I remember trying to carry my then-young daughter from the car to our apartment and it was brutal. Might be the same one that had me driving home from work in Chicago on Rt 30 from I394. Rt 30 had been closed by then but there were no signs for the closed road. I was the only car on Rt30 on that stretch and it took me an hour to go one mile. I did make it home though. These days I'm not quite so brave.
Funny - the Weather Channel was showing the "great" snow events on tv this morning.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

that would have been interesting to watch,OH yes us 30 had semis and cars lined up as far as you could see,I was lucky enough to beable to get out and around thanks to the sheriffs dept.taking me to work !! Also we were easy for them to clear a path down our street as we were on the path to the local Hospital.and I was friends with the city street guys,working 3rd fed them breakfast every morning ,they dug our drive and cars out for me,while they were digging the alley out...I think it was fun ..it was.. LOL

It's always great when you can have fun with the weather.

Columbia City, IN(Zone 5b)

Besides I was like 19 .. LOL

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Quote from tcs1366 :
I only heard about that one... i was living in St Louis... but i was also only 1.

We're the same age! Or close enough. April 66, here.

I just wanted to post that--I have seedlings! They poked their little heads up a couple of days ago. Soon I'll have some herbs for cooking. I plan to keep them inside like windowsill herbs, just under lights.

I'm waiting for an order of coleus from Johnny's. Today I got the urge and stopped at Stein's to pick up impatiens and some columbine.

It's getting to be that time of year! The next best thing to getting outside and actually gardening is starting seeds indoors. :)

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

K -- i gotcha by 3 months.

what herbs are you growing?

Golly - you're all kids!
Congrats on the sprouting herbs! Alas, I haven't started anything yet but hope to. I haven't checked to see if any of the local box stores have their seeds out yet. I still have to place an order or two and hoping to do that tomorrow. Waiting on DD's list so we can split an order from JL Hudson. But I do already have my germinating mix which I always get from Gardener's Supply. Tomorrow is also the quest for a non-fertilized potting soil. Grrrr. Might have to make a run to Alsip to see what they have since they carry the most variety of "stuff".

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