webb and sons seed catalogueSeed catalogues are the horticultural version of holiday brochures, and January is the time for planning.

The winter is dragging on and things have taken on a sludgey green-grey hue.

Ignore the outdoors for a bit. Forget about the piles of wet gunk and cleaning the blasted shears. Pull your chair up to the fire (or put your sock’ed feet on the radiator), open the seed catalogues and lose yourself in jewel-like bursts of colour.

Reasons to be cheerful?

  1. Seeds are cheap… a cute little brown packet of 100 seeds is about the same as a bar of chocolate. Unlike a Double Decker it holds the promise of life, fun and colour for weeks, if not months.
  2. Annuals give you a gratifyingly quick colour hit this year.
  3. Choosing the varieties that are happy to be scattered directly onto the ground means flowers for zero effort!
  4. They’ll squeeze in anywhere… sow complimentary annuals in ribbons around your existing planting. They’ll knit borders together and fill in those patches and holes.
  5. Seeds are a low-risk lucky dip. Try things you’ve never heard of! Colours that might clash! The downright ‘vulgar’! If you don’t like them they’ll do the right thing and politely die at the end of the season.

Below are a few seed catalogues I’m flicking through for 2012. Most of these suppliers have online ordering which means you need never even leave that warm spot on the sofa.

Next week, I’ll tell you what annuals I’ve chosen. Go on, give ‘em a go…and let me know what you earmark!


old seed packetChilterns Seeds – includes unusual and rare native and wildflower species… and a free packet of seeds!

Emorsgate Seeds – run by committed botanists and ecologists who’ve pioneered and long-promoted the use of seed to support wild British meadows

Real Seeds – all veg, all eco-raised and rated ‘ethical best buy’ by Ethical Consumer Magazine

Breeders Seeds – you can PDF download all their catalogues, which cover annuals, herbs, pots and more

Thompson&Morgan and Suttons are the biggest names, with big ranges to match