Sweet peas - where to buy seed in Britain and North America

Sweetpeagwendolinefsw Sweet peas are favorite flowers on both sides of the Atlantic and I'm often asked where to buy seed. So here are some lists of seed companies who only sell sweet peas and other seed companies with a good range - for both sides of the Atlantic - with some wholesalers at the end.

I hope I've not missed out anyone, or made any slips - if I have, please post a comment below and I'll update this page.

Can I also remind me about my book on sweet peas - The Sweet Pea Book - which is packed with beautiful pictures and great information, including a guide to growing them in different parts of the United States as well as in Britain.

Order it in North America here

Order it in Britain here

And you can find out even more about sweet peas at my sweet peas website.

Specialist sweet pea stockists

Enchanting Sweet Peas 244 Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, CA 95472.
Fragrant Garden Nursery P.O. Box 4246, Brookings, OR 97415.
Sweet Pea Gardens 614 Surry Road, Surry, ME 04684.

Other stockists with a good range of sweet peas
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds 2278 Baker Creek Rd. Mansfield, MI 65704.
Florabunda Seeds Box 3, Indian River, ON Canada. K0L 2B0, Canada
Hume Seeds PO Box 1450, Kent, WA 98035.
Renee's Garden (Online only)
Select Seeds 180 Stickney Hill Rd., Union, CT 06076. .
Swallowtail Garden Seeds 122 Calistoga Road, #178 Santa Rosa, CA 95409.
Thompson & Morgan Seeds PO Box 1308, Jackson, NJ 08527.

Specialist sweet pea stockists

Cooltonagh Irish Sweet Peas (Online only)
Eagle Sweet Peas Broadmoor Lane, Stowe-by-Chartley, Stafford, ST18 0LD.
Peter Grayson 34 Glenthorne Close, Brampton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S40 3AR (No website. Tel: 01246 278503)
King's Seeds Monks Farm, Kelvedon, Colchester, Essex, CO5 9PG
Kerton Sweet Peas North Farm Cottage, 14 Bristol Road, Pawlett, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 4RT.
Matthewman's Sweet Peas 14 Chariot Way, Thorpe Audlin, Pomntefract, West Yorkshire, WF8 3EZ
Owls Acre Sweet Peas Owl's Acre, Kellett Gate, Low Fulney, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE12 6EJ.
The Plantsmiths  Midway Nurseries, Penybont, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, Wales, LD1 5SY
Roger Parsons Sweet Peas, Primrose Cottage, Clayton Lane, Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, PO20 8JQ
Seeds-by-Size 45 Crouchfield, Boxmoor. Hemel Hempstead. Hertfordshire, HP1 1PA.
Simply Sweet Peas (online only) Sweet pea plants only.
The Sweet Pea Company, Gazeley Road, Newmarket, CB8 7QB (No website. Tel: 0845 166 2511)
Unwins Seeds Alconbury Hill, Huntingdon, Cambs, PE28 4HY.
F. A. Woodcock Lawn Road Nurseries, Walmer, Deal, Kent, CT14 7ND

Other stockists with a good range of sweet peas
Chiltern Seeds Bortee Stile, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7PB.
Dobies Seeds Long Road, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 7SX.
DT Brown Bury Road, Newmarket, CB8 7PQ
Mr Fothergill's Seeds, Gazeley Road, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7QB.
Nicky's Seeds (Online only)
Plants of Distinction Abacus House, Station Yard, Needham Market, Suffolk, IP6 8AS.
Suttons Seeds Woodview Road, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 7NG.
Thompson & Morgan Seeds Poplar Lane, Ipswich, IP8 3BU.

For the benefit of nurseries and retail seed companies wishing to buy sweet pea seed in large quantities, these seed breeders and wholesalers specialize in sweet peas.
Flower Seed World Malindi, Wood Norton Road, Stibbard, Norfolk, NR21 0EX, UK
Bodger, Inc 1800 Tyler Avenue, South El Monte, CA 91733-3618 USA
Owls Acre Sweet Peas Owl's Acre, Kellett Gate, Low Fulney, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE12 6EJ., UK
Lake Valley Seed 5717 Arapahoe, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
Evironmental Seed Producers P.O. Box 2709, Lompoc CA 93438-2709

Nurseries without websites

Sedummarchantsbestredrhs I've just been noting that some US nurseries are going totally digital and no longer publishing printed catalogs at all, or are ceasing to do so soon. But some of the best nurseries in Britain - like Marchants Hardy Plants whose Sedum 'Marchants Best Red' (left) was such a star in the recent RHS sedum trial - are in the opposite position: they don’t have websites (though two do have email).

Personally, I’m sure they’re missing out on good business and also, of course, continuing to use natural resources unnecessarily. These nurseries are some of the best in the country, with well-chosen, well-grown, correctly named plants, But in general small nurseries are not thriving in Britain – and it’s hard for any small business, perhaps run by just one or two people, to spend time and resources on making such a change when business is not booming.

So let’s hear it for these four fine nurseries, all run by very small but dedicated teams. Please buy their excellent plants! (Though they don’t, I’m afraid, send plants to North America.)

Goldbrook Plants – hosta specialists
Hoxne, Eye, Suffolk, IP21 5AN
Tel/Fax: 01379 668770
Full details in the RHS Nursery Finder here

Marchants Hardy Plants – snowdrops and choice perennials including grasses
2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex, BN8 6AJ
Tel/Fax: 01323 811737
Full details in the RHS Nursery Finder here

Phoenix Perennial Plants – perennials, especially late flowering types, including grasses
Paice Lane, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 5PR
Tel: 01420 560695
Fax: 01420 563640
Full details in the RHS Nursery Finder here

Wildside Nursery – woodland plants and especially epimediums
Green Lane, Buckland Monachorum, Nr Yelverton, Devon, PL20 7NP
Tel: 01822 855755
Full details in the RHS Nursery Finder here

Another great nursery abandons print and goes electronic

Primulasenecastar_2 In my last post I mentioned a couple of US nurseries which no longer produce a print catalog. Well, I forgot to mention that for Seneca Hill Perennials their 2008 catalog, being mailed in the middle of this month, will be their last printed version.

Nursery owner Ellen Hornig says on the front of the Seneca Hill Perennials website: “Global warming forces us to examine our resource use, and this is one arena in which it can be cut. We will be redesigning the website somewhat to compensate for the lack of a catalog, including adding… an archive wherein inactive entries can be kept for reference purposes.” Fine by me, just send me an email whenever the site is updated so I can take a look.

There are over 130 new additions to the catalog this year including a lovely new form of one of the best of all shade lovers, Primula sieboldii. Selected at the nursery, ‘Seneca Star’ (left) has huge, prettily dissected deep pink flowers with a white central star. Looks gorgeous. You can see all this year's newcomers here.

But don’t let one little thing that Ellen says about going totally electronic pass you by, it’s important: she’ll be adding a web archive of plants she no longer sells. This is great news! – not only for gardeners who bought plants from her years ago and need to check up on what she says about them. But for researchers, plant historians, horticultural botanists, other nurseries who might now be selling the plants - and for garden writers like me - this will develop into an invaluable resource. I wish other nurseries, especially those who introduce new and rare plants, would do the same. Thanks Ellen.

Note to British nurseries: Seneca Hill Perennials have raised and introduced some excellent new plants but most are not yet available in Britain. They would welcome the opportunity to exchange new plants with similar British nurseries.

Transatlantic nursery news

Four pieces of interesting nursery news – two from North America and two from Britain.

Primulaearlygirl400 Rick Lupp’s Mount Tahoma nursery in Washington State has announced the end of print catalogs. This is one of the country’s little treasures featuring thoughtfully chosen rock plants and woodlanders with, in particular, a huge range of primulas of all kinds, including the superb ’Early Girl’ (left), an increasing range of epimediums and some species from China never seen in gardens before – including a creeping honeysuckle.

So from now on the website does it all. This will bring a saving to Rick in terms of time and cost – and of course it will save paper too. The 2008 list has just gone live. You can find Rick Lupp’s Mt Tahoma Nursery website here.

Altogether more glitzy and more dramatic in its look (and launching recently with a website and no print catalog), features mainly new and recent introductions – of all kinds from vines to ferns. With respectedDaylilyspiritualcorridor breeders and growers TerraNova Nurseries and Walters Gardens in the background, they list 46 daylilies (including ’Spiritual Corridor’, right), 39 hibiscus, 13 echinaceas, two lovely new brunneras and lots more. Take a look at the website.

Meanwhile, back in Britain…

Blackthorn Nursery has announced that after this coming spring season it will be closing to retail sales. This is the nursery that created ‘Party Dress’, the first double hellebores in a host of colours, and has bred superb new daphnes and epimediums, phygelius and other plants. After 32 years running the nursery Robin and Sue White just want a quieter life and to concentrate on the garden and breeding new plants.

Bergeniasolarflare500 And finally a not-quite-brand-new nursery in the English Cotswolds – FuturePrimitive Plants. I only came across this nursery recently but I’ll be stopping by this year. Concentrating on new and recent introductions, hardy orchids and a range of aspidistras to grow outside are special features – along with the new orange ‘Tiki Torch’ echinacea and variegated Bergenia ‘Solar Flare’ (left). You’ll find the FuturePrimitive Plants website here.

Grow something new from seed

2008chilterncover In recent years it’s become more and more difficult to send plants to gardeners around the world and now only a few institutions and nurseries take the time and trouble to deal with customs, plant health inspections, high shipping costs and the rest of the paperwork and expense. However, there is still seed.

Although regulations governing seed are also becoming more stringent, seed companies still send their seed to other countries and every holiday season the distinctive, tall, slim seed catalog from Chiltern Seeds in England arrives. And they send seed anywhere.

Timed to arrive just in time for a few feet-up days by the fire, with seed of over 4,000 plants you need a little time… The catalog lists wild species, old heirlooms, and some of the latest introductions – with excellent descriptions but no pictures. There’s a wonderful array including annuals to sow outside, cacti, trees (including a huge range of eucalyptus), unusual Japanese cut flowers, perennials old and new, climbing plants for indoors and out – I  guarantee you will find plants you just can’t do without as well as things you never knew existed. For pictures you need to go to the website - although the separate veg and herb catalog is, unfortunately, full of pointless cartoons of animated radishes and the like – what a waste.

Anyway, with flat rate airmail shipping to anywhere in the world - and the option of insured, priority shipping as well  - Chiltern Seeds provide a way of getting hold of new, heirloom and elusive plants easily. OK, I know this might sound like a commercial – it’s just that for 33 years Chiltern Seeds have been doing a great job providing new and unusual seeds to gardeners around the world and I think you should give them a try.

Visiting Cotswold Garden Flowers

Cotswold500 Over on the right there, you’ll see Cotswold Garden Flowers in Worcestershire listed amongst my favourite British nurseries and on my recent trip to England I had the opportunity to pay another visit.

Run by Bob Brown, a man of deep knowledge and strong opinions, his mail order catalogue is one of the most fascinating and amusing that you’ll come across and his nursery is packed with good plants – familiar, unfamiliar and sometimes a little strange. He’s chairman of the Variegated Plant Group of the Hardy Plant Society in Britain, which gives a big clue to one of his many enthusiasms.

Continue reading "Visiting Cotswold Garden Flowers" »

Top sellers from Plant Delights Nursery

Colocasiathailandgiant Plant Delights Nursery is one of the best on the country. Founded and run by plantsman and Tony Avent, who peddles strong, often controversial, though well-respected opinion along with his extraordinary plants, Tony’s just sent out a list of his bestselling plants, a Top Thirty for this spring.

There are some great plants on this list – and some I’d never heard of, perhapsClematisstolwijkgold because his mail order catalog never came this year. I’ve pasted in the full list at the end. The top seller is  Colocasia gigantea Thailand Giant Strain, a monstrous and dramatic tropical wonder for warmer areas. It's straight from the wild in Thailand, and much larger than the form usually seen.

Continue reading "Top sellers from Plant Delights Nursery" »

A wonderful catalogue from Arrowhead Alpines

Arrowheadcover2007500_2 I’ve never ordered from Michigan’s Arrowhead Alpines, but if their plants are as good as their extraordinary catalog it’s clear that I should.

This is a very – how shall I put it – individualistic catalog. After all, few alpine nurseries would fill their front cover with the huge blue cones of a Korean fir hybrid (Abies koreana x A. lasiocarpa, no less).

Bob Stewart’s introductory essay rattles along on the subjects of why we garden, why Britney Spears wears no panties, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, North Korean missiles, creating antimatter pairs with lasers, gene splicing, and so on.

There follows a hundred densely printed pages packed to bursting with good plants, many wondrous rarities and many more familiar. There are conifers, shrubs, vines, perennials, wild flowers, bulbs and, of course alpines. You could spend thousands. But it’s not just the extraordinary collection of plants that make this catalog special, there are, I should mention, no pictures except on the cover. It’s the way Bob describes them: On the rarely seen Smilacina bicolor, the quotes the Google translation from the Korean: “The beard root to the genitals is born from the joint”, “both sides flow in lower part and becoming the short leaf sack”, and his favorite: “the flower stalk comes out from the armpit of the gun.” (Fortunately, there’s a picture here for those not sufficiently convinced by this description.)

Continue reading "A wonderful catalogue from Arrowhead Alpines" »

Another nursery plant name fiasco

Bulbsdirectnotechinacea Some great new echinaceas in yellow and peachy shades have been introduced in recent years so when you see Bulbs Direct listing a plant as Echinacea ‘Yellow Storm’ you might well think that you’d be ordering the latest of these.

Not so fast. In fact what you’ll be getting is good old Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ - just click on the picture (although even then it's not really the right color)! There’s a wopping clue there, of course, Goldsturm is German for – Golden Storm.Echinaceagoldstorm

Innocent mistake? Or a nursery trying to cash in on the popularity of these new echinaceas? Either way, don’t be taken in. Of course, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm is a colorful and dependable plant. It was Perennial Plant of the Year in 1999 and has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. But if you’re looking for a yellow echinacea – look elsewhere.

I’ve emailed them to point out their error… we shall see.

Where to buy sweet pea seed

Davematthewmansweetpeas500 Most mail order seed companies, on both sides of the Atlantic, sell sweet pea seeds but there are relatively few which offer a really good range. And only one sells a good range of sweet pea plants. As spring approaches (in some places at least) I’ve had a couple of emails recently asking for good sources of sweet pea seeds - so here goes.

North America
There are three excellent American suppliers who specialize exclusively in sweet pea seeds.
Enchanting Sweet Peas 244 Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, CA 95472.
Fragrant Garden Nursery P.O. Box 4246, Brookings, OR 97415.
Sweet Pea Gardens 614 Surry Road, Surry, ME 04684

In addition, Renee's Garden (Online only), has an fine range along with many other heirloom flowers.

There are more sweet pea specialists in Britain and Simply Sweet Peas (online only) specialize in sweet pea plants, which is ideal for many gardeners. In addition, I would single out these seed specialists although none in my comprehensive list will disappoint.

Matthewman's Sweet Peas 14 Chariot Way, Thorpe Audlin, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF8 3EZ
Cooltonagh Irish Sweet Peas
(Online only)
Owls Acre Sweet Peas Owl's Acre, Kellett Gate, Low Fulney, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE12 6EJ.
Roger Parsons Sweet Peas Primrose Cottage, Clayton Lane, Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, PO20 8JQ

In addition, these two companies list an exceptional range along with a very wide range of other seeds.

Kings Seeds Monks Farm, Kelvedon, Colchester, Essex, CO5 9PG
Unwins Seeds Alconbury Hill, Huntingdon, Cambs, PE28 4HY.

Please click here for my latest comprehensive list of suppliers on both sides of the Atlantic.

And don’t forget my own book on sweet peas The Sweet Pea Book – just click on the jacket (below left) to find out more.

Good luck with your sweet peas this season.