The yearly cycle of gardening begins in mid-winter with planning or dreaming, often stimulated by the arrival of seed catalogs in December. Possible the most common error in gardening is over-enthusiasm at this planning stage. Even experienced gardeners succumb to the lure of too many new vegetables and flowers, ending up with more than they can fit in their garden, or have the time or energy to grow. To avoid being overwhelmed at the end of summer, exercise some modicum of restraint as you browse through seed catalogs.
Garden seeds are available on seed racks in garden stores, through the mail, and from garden societies. The widest selection of common seeds will be found in seed catalogs or web sites. These are the backbone of the vegetable gardener, who plants much the same selection every year. If you are a beginning gardener who is not yet on the seed companies’ mailing lists, buy a couple of gardening magazines in December; in them you will find advertisements for dozens of seed catalogs.
Many web sites sell the same seeds available in the catalogs. An increasing number of seed companies, like all merchants, are putting their full catalogs on their web sites.
Specialty seed houses also publish catalogs or plant lists. Some of these are simple lists of seeds they sell. Often, these lists contain seeds of plants not available from any other source. These are the places to look for the rare or unusual. Even more unusual seeds are available from horticultural societies. Societies like The Alpine Garden Society have seed exchanges every year for their members. Very unusual seeds often appear on these exchanges.