First of the Spring 2014 Garden Catalogs!

Mail order garden catalogs are one of the things that keep me sane in winter. Normally they don’t start to arrive until after the New Year, but when I got home today I was delighted to find the new catalog from Bluestone Perennials.

bluestone perennials
Bluestone Perennials Catalog

Bluestone Perennials is my go-to mail order source for non-natives and cultivars of native perennials. I tend to use more specialized sources when buying native straight species.

Plant catalogs are a mainstay of my winter reading. Bluestone meets the three criteria for being included in the stack of catalogs by my side of the bed. First, the text is clear, credible, and not an insult to my intelligence. Second, lots of pictures. Third, adequate information on the cultural needs of a big selection of plants.

Lavender 'Violet Intrigue'
Lavender ‘Violet Intrigue’. Photo: Bluestone Perennials

It’s worth noting that, unlike many retailers, Bluestone grows their own plants. Personally, I find this reassuring.

Plant retailers have been under pressure to reduce the cost of their catalogs, and Bluestone has downsized theirs by leaving out many plants that are now described only on the website. However, the catalog remains an absorbing read, or more accurately, an absorbing peruse.

Northern Sea Oats
Northern Sea Oats ‘River Mist. Photo: Bluestone Perennials

I’ve had positive experiences with the plants from Bluestone. They arrive in 3.5″ biodegradable pots that can go right in the ground. They used to ship smaller plants in plastic three packs. The change was a good one, I think, though I believe the smaller plants were cheaper.

As always, checking out the new plants is part of the pleasure of reading a garden catalog. There are three in Buestone’s that particularly aroused my interest.

  • English Lavender ‘Violet Intrigue’ (Lavandula angustifolia). I have no lavender in my garden, but I’m thinking about putting it in a couple of spots. I like the rich purple color, and how can you resist that name?
  • Northern Sea Oats ‘River Mist’ (Chasmanthium latifolium). A variegated cultivar of this shade tolerant grass with pretty seedheads. Not usually a big fan of variegated plants, but I can imagine this doing very nicely in my shady back garden.
  • Doll’s Eyes (Cimicifuga pachypoda). Prior to this I have only seen this plant carried by native plant specialists. Mid-size plants with striking white berries. Berries are poisonous, though, so be careful with small children.
Doll's Eyes
Doll’s Eyes Berries. Photo: Bluestone Perennials

Have your favorite catalogs started arriving in the mail yet?

56 Comments on “First of the Spring 2014 Garden Catalogs!

  1. I love that Cimicifuga pachypoda! Interestingly the flowers look a lot like those of Aloysia virgata, but of course the aloysia doesn’t have the interesting doll’s eyes berries! Great plant!

  2. That Cimicifuga looks lovely – I have grown Cimicifuga ramosa before which has gorgeous spires of perfumed flowers in late summer. My seed catalogues for spring arrived in November, and one catalogue too. I haven’t had a chance to peruse them yet, but I’m sure they will help while away the cold January evenings!

  3. Always been a big fan of BP but did like buying in trios even when it was a smaller size. I’m sure you remember when catalogs weren’t sent out until the first of the year but competition has driven the earlier dates. Just received my favorite — Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds. Great read but they have reduced the quality of the paper. Was the highest quality of them all. Have enjoyed watching it and their young family grow over the years. My friend, our chaplain went to their fall festival and couldn’t heap enough praise on the whole experience, Jason.

  4. Yes my Bluestone catalog is already circled with plants that I want to use but I seem to have the same problem with not enough room for all. What are some of your other fav catalogs?

  5. I’m surprised to see the doll’s eyes for sale commercially because it’s so toxic, but I don’t suppose it’s any different than growing aconite or digitalis. I don’t get catalogs anymore because I buy so few plants now. There was a time though, that I couldn’t wait for them to arrive.

    • Their arrival is still a highlight of my year. As for toxic plants, you can poison yourself pretty effectively with rhubarb leaves and all kinds of other things. I would be more cautious if there were toddlers running around, but there aren’t.

  6. I’ve just started getting some of my favorites, it’s amazing how tempting some of them can be. Song Sparrow Nursery gives me hours of fun, putting together lists and narrowing them down and imagining how they’ll all fit into my imaginary garden… then reality strikes it all down!

      • Fedco Seeds, Waterville, ME. They have seeds, flowers, potatoes, cover crops, gardening supplies etc. I buy slitted row covers from them plus a few other things. They sell cold hardy varieties which is a good thing for me. Their catalog is an old fashioned type – black and white only. Good products.

  7. I just received Good Seed’s catalog (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). The photos are beautiful and the tomato varieties are amazing.

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. I like your comment “not an insult to my intelligence”. I am particularly ticked off by some pictures in catalogs that are obviously staged on the floor of a warehouse. No one who has actually gardened would believe these photos were taken outside.

  9. I haven´t received any catalogues yet. But I agree, they do help to get you through the winter. I really like the lavender, what a colour!. The variegated grass I also like a lot. I think that variagated leaves lighten up dark places.

  10. Italian plant catalogues, where they exist at all, are just a printed list with the name of the plant and its expexted final height – no pictures, no information about conditions needed. But then I can’t plant in spring anyway so perhaps that’s a good thing. Enjoy your winter reading.

    • If that sort of catalog were all I had I would feel very deprived. On the other hand, you’ve got a lot more greenery to look at during winter.

  11. it is one of the joys of winter curling up with the new seasons’ catalogues.
    That Cimifuga is new to me I just know Cimifuga ramosa. I grow ‘James Compton for its lovely dark foliage. I think we have to call it Actaea now, which is a bore just when you learn a name, it changes.
    I love those ‘Doll’s Eyes’ -what a good name for them.

  12. I get the wholesale catalogs, which don’t have the pretty pictures, so it is always work selecting from them for next year. I never have time to peruse the consumer catalogs, but it is nice to see what others choose. It gives a sense of trending.

  13. Haven’t received any yet, but I do love them. Forestfarm and J. L. Hudson, Seedsman have some very desirable, hard-to-find plants and seeds, but, alas, no photos. You have to go to the websites for that. Territorial Seed Co.’s catalog gives wonderful information for growing vegetables here in the Northwest. People use the catalog like a gardening book. And I use Richter’s from Canada the same way for herbs. But now, thanks to you, I’m looking forward to getting the Bluestone for some proper plant porn! By the way, when you request the catalog on-line, they send you a page of discount coupons. Very cool. Thanks Jason.

  14. Let the fun begin! I’ve been reading the latest Bluestone Perennials catalogue at breakfast. To me, it’s just a great way to get ideas and find some cool new plants. I too fixated on the Doll’s Eyes – great minds think alike. Plus I am proud to report that I beat the trend on another new plant they’re offering – the compact Buttonbush ‘Sugar Shack.’ Got it last fall from Lazy S’s Nursery.

  15. Oooooooh….roll on spring eh?
    I have that exact lavender in my new lavender hedge….the dogs keeps breaking bits off as they run across it though. xxx

  16. That is a good idea to stay sane…I wil have to look out for the catalogs. I’m surprised you don’t grow lavender, I thought you did?? It’s a great plant to brush up against!

  17. The lavender will be a great hell strip or sidewalk plant for you. Lavenders like ssort of what I thin of as abusive microclimate, so plant it where the soil is rocky and poor, and heats up because of thermal retentive structures. Gravel scree and rocks next to my driveway has worked for me. Be careful to site where there will not be standing water after a spring thaw or any time it is not actively growing. Good drainage is important.

    I would skip the doll’s eye. The flower is nearly non existant and the berries cling for a very short time. It does not spread very quickly, so can not truly fill a ground cover roll. I would use a American ginger first.

    • Sounds like the parkway would be the best bet, as the other spots have pretty rich soil. Wish I knew what lavender actually smells like.

      • It smell a bit like rosemary, more floral, less pungent. Itis a very nice smell, not overly cloying like catmints, stronger than oregano, not medicinal like basil can be.

  18. I’ve already received a couple of catalogues…but it’s been so busy I haven’t had a chance to look yet! Need to sit down and relax with a cup of tea and browse a little while…I always look forward to seeing what’s new.

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