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‘Tis the Season for Catalogues

At about six inches high and counting, they’re stacked now — as winter fate and timing would have it — just about the same depth as the snow outside my Maine window. With my wife in the post-holiday composting and recycling mode, I have to watch the mail carefully to make sure my spring lawn, seed and gardening catalogues all survive her purging.

In this age of you-can-find-anything online mentality, you have to wonder how long it will be before the catalogues suffer the same doomed fate as most gardening magazines. Since most of the customers for these gardening items are above the age of 55, it’s probably only a matter of time before all shopping will move to the Internet and trips to the mailbox will be as bleak as the January landscape.

For now, it’s fun to compare and contrast the different companies and offerings and that’s easier to do with a full-blown catalogue in your hands. Here are just a few worth noting:

High Country Gardens ( — This company from New Mexico, that only made it onto my radar screen last year, offers an impressive collection of native plants, alternative lawn groundcovers and an entire section dedicated to “rethinking your lawn.” If you’re serious about low-mow and no-mow lawns, or trying some alternative species like blue grama or buffalo grass, click on the web site and poke around. Check out the section, too, on the Western prairie garden. Good stuff.

GardensAlive ( — One of the pioneers in organic mailorder offerings in this country, the Indiana-based company is one-stop shopping for organic lawn care and gardening products. Their Accugrow soil test kit is one of the few home-based soil testing devices worth purchasing. You can’t beat the results from a professional service, but for the do-it-yourselfers, the GardensAlive system will help you keep tabs on your lawn’s progress.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds ( — I’m partial to this Maine-based company given my lifelong residency in the state, yet with good reason. Johnny’s niche is serving small market farmers and avid home vegetable gardeners with the highest quality seeds and products available. You won’t find an enterprise anywhere with a better reputation. And though Johnny’s doesn’t even attempt to serve the lawn care marketplace, many of the organic fungicides (Actinovate, for example), insecticides, weed killers and tools easily cross over into lawn care. And . . . if you’re thinking of converting some of that lawn into garden, which is all the rage these days, ought to be one of your bookmarks.

Gardeners Supply ( — Another one of the pioneering companies in organic gardening, this Vermont enterprise is, like Johnny’s, employee owned and steeped in integrity. Through the years, Gardeners has evolved into a lifestyle company, with seeds and gardening supplies as just a small sector of overall sales. Still, Gardeners is worth checking out for do-it-yourself lawn care as a source for everything from white clover seed, to pelletized compost and natural grub control.

These are just a few of the noteworthy catalogues on my pile. I keep weeding through and report back later this week.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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