There are few truly Transatlantic seed companies. Thompson & Morgan operate out of both New Jersey and Suffolk but none of the other major British companies have much of a presence in the US – and none of the American seed companies pay any attention to Britain. Perhaps they should – but they don’t. I’m sure they’ve looked into it from a business point of view and decided it just won’t work.
But top of the second division of seed companies, if you like, is Chiltern Seeds – based in the north west of England they’ll send seed just about anywhere and they list an engaging mix of rarities and familiar varieties. They also have some intriguing new additions – 430 in all - for the coming season.
These include a variegated form of the lovely Arisaema consanguineum and a rarely seen actinidia, the Silver Vine – Actinidia polygama – which clings to tree trunks like an ivy but which features silvery white young foliage and scented white flowers followed by edible orange fruits. The foliage, like that of catmint, is very attractive to cats and is even used as a sedative for lions!
They also have a coppery flowered form of the wind poppy (Stylomecon heterophyllum) which I’d never come across before and which is certainly tempting. It's good to see the lovely perennial lupin Lupinus nootkanensis added and I was also intrigued by a buckthorn I didn’t know – Rhamnus schneiderii var. mandschurica – with clusters of black berries which are both prolific and long lasting.
Chiltern Seeds has always been strong on unusual members of the cucumber family and this season they have a rarely seen species of luffa – Luffa acutangula, a popular Indian vegetable. They also have a variety of hornbeam especially suited to bonsai, a lovely celosia species for drying and lots more.
Check out all the new introductions from Chiltern Seeds. Outside Britain they simply add £2.50 to cover extra postage costs to the rest of Europe, £3.50 to cover postage to North America and the rest of the world.