#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

The Magic of Seed Catalogs

Few things brighten a dreary winter day like the arrival of a seed catalog or, better yet, several of them.  The covers are always brilliantly colorful, overflowing with blue-ribbon produce and/or glorious flowers, and inside those pages, well, the magic continues.  If you happen to be a gardener, that is.

I love to study all the glorious possibilities, from the mundane to the exotic, and, like many people, I’m definitely guilty of over-ordering.  For instance, I just sent for three magnolia trees–magnolia trees, in Spokane!–but, hey, the blurb says the trees are hardy in zones 5-9.  Our zone is 6, so I’m good to go, right?  I plan to install these lovelies in front of the house, near the gazebo, cross my fingers, give them plenty of water, and dream of filling my nostrils with the glorious scent of that uniquely southern blossom on hot summer evenings.  (Maybe my interest in magnolia trees is related to the novel I’m currently writing–working title, “West of Yesterday”–which is set in Georgia in the period immediately following the end of the Civil War.  Our heroine, Amalie Winslow, has magnolia trees.)

Seed catalogs are, after all, about dreaming, and more importantly, they promise that spring will come again, followed by summer.  

Although I’ve dabbled with gardening for a few years now, I’m far from an expert, and what I’ve grown, I’ve grown in containers.  This year, I harvested tomatoes and green beans, among other things, but the blue pumpkins I planted in the raised containers were a learning experience for sure–as large as these two containers are, they simply don’t offer the kind of room pumpkins need to form adequate root systems, and I wound up with exactly 2 pumpkins.  Count ’em, 2.  Lesson learned–this year, I’m planting pumpkins again, pastel this time, but they’ll be out by the barn, with plenty of room to spread out and, of course, plenty of residual fertilizer.  :)  

I already have a basket full of enticing seed packets from Baker Creek, one of my favorite suppliers, and this year I’ll have at least 6 raised beds to work with, so I’m going big.  Among other intriguing things, I’m planting ‘Nadapenos’–Jalapenos without the heat, a kind of squash grown by the Lincoln family, luffas, tomatoes, of course, and a lot of greens.  It’s still way too early to start seeds–except indoors, which is another blog–but I’m definitely gathering materials and pouring over every seed catalog that finds its way into my mailbox.  There are bound to be successes and failures–things to be learned, discoveries to be made–and I’m itching to grow flowers and veggies and woo hummingbirds and butterflies, bees and ladybugs, too.  (I ordered little houses for Mason bees–whatever they are–and winter shelters for ladybugs to ride out the harsh winter.  Who knew such handy items even existed?)

Ah, seed catalogs.  Hope on paper.

And speaking of hope on paper, my newest book, COUNTRY STRONG, came out today.  I’m sure hoping you’ll enjoy this first book in a brand new trilogy.

24 comments to “The Magic of Seed Catalogs”

  1. Patricia Stout
      · January 21st, 2020 at 6:10 pm · Link

    We’ve ordered for our garden this year and looking forward to seeing how we do. Making a flower garden for our bees, think that they deserve the extra attention because they provide us with such wonderful honey.

  2. Dixie Hadley
      · January 21st, 2020 at 6:15 pm · Link

    Looking forward to the new series.
    Dixie Hadley

  3. Cathy green
      · January 21st, 2020 at 6:32 pm · Link

    I love looking at the catalogs too and dreaming of summer flowers . I tried the straw bale tomatoes but they didn’t turn out for me
    Just downloaded the new book and am ready to start it tonight

  4. Melaine Langi
      · January 21st, 2020 at 6:42 pm · Link

    I received my copy of Country Strong and can hardly wait to start reading it. Like all of your books, especially cowboy themed, I expect I will re-read it many times.

    Wish you the best with you gardening and dreams. Hugs to you Linda.

  5. Jan Hooker
      · January 21st, 2020 at 6:43 pm · Link

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on the seed catalogs! One of my favorite things right now is to sit with them, and a cup of hot chocolate, in the evenings and dream of what I’ll plant in which spot. I’m just a couple hours south of you, down in Moscow, Idaho, and I’ve found I also have to pay close attention to the zone info. Early spring freezes are tricky. I can’t wait to get my hands on your new book! I’m sure it will be a new favorite!

  6. Marcia J White
      · January 21st, 2020 at 6:58 pm · Link

    Hi Linda,
    I love seed catalogs too. I usually grow a couple mini tomatoes in pots as well as dahlias, which I over winter. We don’t have a lot of space, but we have some daylillies, peonies, and a few other perrenials. I just ordered some zinnia and nasturtium seeds from a favorite NE company, Johnny’s Seed in Maine. I also ordered 3 echinaceas from Bluestone Perrenials, a company from whom I have ordered before.
    Love your books, have read many, and am looking forward to your new one!
    Marcia White, Gardner MA

  7. Virginia
      · January 21st, 2020 at 7:33 pm · Link

    I use to get seed catalogs and I have ordered trees from them. Bulbs for flowers and a little of every thing. Some of the trees made it a few years. The tulips I ordered never did do anything, I think it was because of moles though. I had a butterfly bush for several years and it finally died it was purple and white. I think we get to much rain here for things to do well. I even put my tomatoes in large pots so that I will have some tomatoes. Looking forward to your book.

  8. Lois Rotella
      · January 21st, 2020 at 9:03 pm · Link

    I ordered your book today because the bookstore did not have it in stock even though the website said it did. I wish a had a place to plant but I live
    on the 13th floor.

  9. Debbie Koziel
      · January 21st, 2020 at 9:35 pm · Link

    I love seed catalogs and have ordered lots of vegetable seeds. Living in So Calif we grow vegetables year round. Right now we have broccoli and winter tomatoes!
    Bought your new book today !

  10. Gloria Griffin Herring
      · January 21st, 2020 at 9:57 pm · Link

    Linda, it is so good to hear from you, again. This is the first post I’ve seen from you in ages and ages.

    Keep on writing, and posting.

    Gloria Herring!!

  11. Prairie
      · January 22nd, 2020 at 12:17 am · Link

    Hoping for a better gardening season this year. We had too much rain last year and temperatures fluctuated so much our tomatoes were a big disappointment. Nothing like a fresh tomato from your own garden. Congratulations with the release of your newest trilogy.

  12. Jane
      · January 22nd, 2020 at 5:58 am · Link

    Ah, seed catalogs…. Have you ever tried winter sowing? You don’t think it will work and yet it does. You ought to check it out. It should work where you are. I’m in southern Indiana and it works here.

  13. Dorothy Glase
      · January 22nd, 2020 at 10:49 am · Link

    It’s good to see you back on your blog. I’ve missed you. Just bought your new book, Country Strong but haven’t started reading it yet. What happened to the Civil War novel? I haven’t seen it on the racks or is it not in paper back yet?

  14. Diana Eagen
      · January 22nd, 2020 at 8:16 pm · Link

    I’m always longing for spring this time of year. Love seeing bulbs poking their heads out of the soil. Longing for the days to be longer too. Liked your blog today, Linda. Blessings.

  15. Ann Bartholomew
      · January 23rd, 2020 at 12:04 pm · Link

    My copy of Country Strong arrived in today’s mail. I’m so glad I finished my Nicholas Sparks in the wee hours this morning, so now I am ready to open the new book. I am glad to hear you are hard at work (between seed catalogs) on the next Civil War book. I love Yankee Widow!!

    But – I have to go. A book is calling my name!!

  16. Juanita Rice
      · January 23rd, 2020 at 2:02 pm · Link

    Going to order Country Strong right now!
    Ah, yes! Seed catalogs. I want to order so much …. and have room for so little. :)

  17. donna
      · January 23rd, 2020 at 4:26 pm · Link

    Glad to hear from you. Picked up a copy of your new book. Always looking forward to a new book of yours coming out.

  18. Katherine Stone
      · January 24th, 2020 at 8:39 am · Link


    What a lovely post! I’m inspired by it – and, as always, by you.

    I planted bulbs in the fall and can’t wait to see their bright, colorful, happy faces.

    Off to buy my copy of Country Strong!

    Hooray and all the best!

  19. Ruby Norwood
      · January 24th, 2020 at 3:02 pm · Link

    I’ve got my copy of Country Strong, If I ever have time to finish the one I am reading. Country Strong will certainly be my next read. Good luck on all your gardening. It sounds really interesting. I have my plants in the house, but I leave all the other to my husband and the guy that helps him.. have a great weekend !!

  20. midge watkins
      · January 25th, 2020 at 2:48 pm · Link

    Don’t they brighten up this drab, cold weather? I have 19
    catalogs already and probably more to come. I don’t do much
    gardening anymore, except carrots for the horse and roses, but
    my next door neighbor from CA needs advise on occasion. She
    tried those blue pumpkins last year and they turned out pretty
    good. We have to fight the mule deer and pocket gophers, so
    that’s also a hassle. I hope your magnolia trees turn out as
    you picture them. I’ve seen lots around here in the spring, but
    none in the summer. I believe our zone is 4 to 5 but, I can
    always be wrong. Looking forward to your new book.

  21. Leanna Hiner
      · January 27th, 2020 at 9:18 pm · Link

    I’m excited for your new book!

  22. Sal
      · February 4th, 2020 at 5:50 pm · Link

    You kind hearted, green thumbed gal are definitely our father’s daughter. Love you Sis.

  23. Lorelei Sawtelle
      · February 24th, 2020 at 1:12 pm · Link

    I love Baker Creek.
    We grew Nadapenos last year. Try Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes. They’re beautiful as well as delicious.We had them in a raised bed with cages, but they grew out and over the edges into the grass. Quite prolific.

  24. Shadow Lee
      · March 28th, 2020 at 4:36 am · Link

    A group from the Circle 3 Cowboy Fellowship are planning to have a garden on the church grounds. Its out in the country, we will need a fence if we plan to have anything left for the people. The deer or elk might have it all. Lol.
    I love trees. Especially apple, and pear trees. Mom tried for years to grow pears, not until she found out she needed two of them to cross pollinate, did she get them to grow. WoW!! Did they grow. The pears were huge!!! Juicy & good. S won some prizes at the county fair.
    My seed catalog it open on the kitchen table. I can go through it every morning to see what else I want from it.

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