Lowenfels: Cruise catalogs for the unusual and exotic

GardeningJanuary 16, 2013 

This week, a few answers to requests for specialty webalogs/catalogs. These are the plants that people are asking for so far.

Let's start with dahlias. Here is great news. You don't have to go any further than right here in Alaska. The 2013 dahlia catalog of grown-in-Alaska dahlia tubers from fellow gardener Rob Wells, aka "The Persistent Farmer," is now available online and by mail if you want a print copy. The web site address is thepersistentfarmer.com and this year there are more varieties at great prices. To get a copy in the mail just call 907-745-2789 or 907-355-5586 or request one online.

Next, there is a huge call for roses. This is easy, as there are lots of webalogs and catalogs from which to choose, starting with The Antique Rose Emporium (antique roseemporium.com). Not only will you find everything from thornless roses to the yellow rose of Texas, but also books, fertilizers and lots of information about growing roses.

Edmunds Roses (edmundsroses.com) has a great selection of miniature, tree, floribundas and shrub roses along with grandifloras. If you don't know what these are, then maybe you should check out their site and learn.

Speaking of miniatures, Nor'East Miniature Roses (davidaustinroses.com) is the place to go. This is basically all they sell and they have a huge selection. These include climbing minis, micro minis and all sorts of collections. If you don't have much space, this is the way to grow roses, indoors and outdoors.

Heirloom Roses (heirloomroses.com), as the name suggests, specializes in old and unusual roses and has a bunch of hybridized roses as well. Fun stuff, these old roses. Heirloom Roses brings you the widest selection from the world's rose hybridizers.

There were a number of calls for specialty fruit and vegetable material, not the ordinary stuff, but unusual fare. Fruits and vegetables. My favorite in this category is Raintree Nursery (raintreenursery.com/offers), which is chock full of fruit, nut and berry plants, many of which have been successfully grown here in Southcentral. This is a real dreamer catalog, full of stuff we can grow and lots we wish we could.

In the same vein is One Green World (onegreenworld.com). This webalog/catalog is famous for its unique fruiting plants and ornamentals. These have been gathered from around the world. You can learn a lot about fruits and trees of other areas from this one, but don't be daunted. They sell lots of stuff that survives here too.

An old standby for fruit trees is Stark Bro's Nurseries (starkbros.com). In addition to fruit trees, Stark Bros also sell nut and landscaping trees. This is a fun catalog.

Asian vegetables are becoming popular and Kitazawa Seed (kitazawaseed.com) offers all sorts of seed for Asian plants, over 250 seed varieties that you probably never heard of. These are traditional heirloom vegetables of Japan, China and Korea. Many are very quick growers and do well in our area. If you are a chef, this is one for you.

The British are famous for their gardens, but the closest most of us come to their stuff is Thompson and Morgan (tmseeds.com). However, this is not the only American source of English seed. GardenImport (gardenimport.com) sells English plants, bulbs and seeds via mail order here in the United States.

Finally, I had one request for some seed from "Down Under." If you want seed from Australia check out UndEarthcare Enterprises. They sell bamboo, gingers and aquatics, all from Queensland. I am not sure how many of these would do well here, but that is what garden catalogs are for -- ordering new things that might just change the mix of plants we normally grow.

Keep those requests coming in. January is catalog month for this column. I want to make sure you get everything you desire. You can reach me at teamingwithmicrobes.com.


Garden calendar

Save the dates: The annual spring conference for the Alaska Botanical Garden is March 8-9. This event fills fast and has limited room, so get a membership, renew your old one and sign up early at alaskabg.org.

Christmas Tree Recycling: The annual ALPAR program is over. Do not try to leave your trees in Safeway parking lots. You don’t want to be fined. Instead, put your tree outside and use it to see where you might need new trees or place suet and bird seed under it and see what birds you attract. This spring you can chip it up or break it up and toss it in the compost pile. Again, beware of leaving a tree in a Safeway lot. You will be sorry.

Sweet peas: Start them this month, pinch back often and you will have early blooms shortly after you transplant. This is the new way to grow sweet peas. If you don’t have any go to reneesgarden.com or Denali Seeds, bestcoolseeds.com.




Jeff Lowenfels' is author of "Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to The Soil Food Web."

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