Mail-order Plants, Bulbs, and Seeds

I’ve done business with all of the places listed below and been very pleased with the quality of the plants I received and with the customer service. That’s all I’m willing to vouch for. Of course, and I can’t stress this enough, your results may vary. Parcels may go astray. An untimely blizzard may arrive. Ordinarily conscientious and responsible folk may have a memory lapse or a bad day. So if something goes awry with your order, please don’t tell me about it — get in touch with establishment in question and try to resolve the situation in a civil and reasonable manner. Remember, there is nothing to be gained by snorting, jumping up and down, and using indelicate language. If you fail to achieve a satisfactory resolution, chalk it up to experience and take your business elsewhere.

You’ll notice, by the way, that the list is notably lacking in “big names.” That is deliberate.

A truly stunning selection of choice seeds of alpine plants from around the world. Great photos, too.
Annie’s Annuals and Perennials
A flowery paradise of both the old and new. Especially strong on California natives and cottage-garden plants
Asiatica Nursery
A connoisseur’s cornucopia of tempting exotica. Amazing selection of ferns, hardy gingers, arisaemas, and tropicals. Decidedly not cheap, but you’re not going to find many of these plants elsewhere.
Bayview Gardens
Owner Joe Ghio is a legendary hybridizer of Pacific Coast irises. Bearded irises, too.
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs
If you want to order top-quality bulbs from two of the nicest people in the world, here’s your chance.
Cistus Nursery
The offering of this garden of earthly delights are guaranteed to provoke a frenzy of plant lust. Especial strengths are woody genera from the Southern Hemisphere and temperate Asia, Western North American natives, and plants adapted to Portland's dry summers. A visit to the nursery is de rigueur if you're in the area.
Collector’s Nursery
Diana Reeck’s tempting array of choice woodlanders.
Digging Dog Nursery
Great West Coast nursery with particular strengths in asters, crocosmias, euphorbias, geraniums, kniphofias, salvias, and many other genera.
Edelweiss Perennials
A nicely rounded list, with an emphasis on alpines and smaller plants.
Mojmir Pavelka’s incredible list of mostly alpine plants from Europe, Turkey, Central Asia, China, and beyond.
Fancy Fronds
Fern maven Judith Jones’s delectable selection of pteridophytic ptreasures.
Robin Parer’s beautifully comprehensive and erudite list of hardy geraniums, pelargoniums (including scented varieties), and erodiums. A gem.
Goodwin Creek Gardens
Extensive selection of herbs; especially strong in lavenders.
Gossler Farms Nursery
An outstanding selection of both rare and classic woody plants (and perennials) from a family of outstanding plantspeople.
High Country Gardens
Owner David Salman presents a large list of reliable, hardy plants, most of which are also drought-tolerant. Their own selections are always worth a close look.
Jānis Rukšāns Bulb Nursery
(No website. For a catalog, send $5 to Jānis Rukšāns Bulb Nursery, P.O. Stalbe, LV-4151 Cesis distr., Latvia) A bulb connoisseur’s dream come true. Rare alliums, crocuses, fritillaries, irises, tulips, and much more. The corydalis will make you swoon. Be prepared for a bit of sticker shock. No problems with export to the U.S.
Joe-Pye Weed’s Garden
Cutting-edge, completely gorgeous Siberian irises (as well as other beardless irises, pardacandas, and primulas).
Joy Creek Nursery
A superb list, reflecting the impeccable taste of owners Maurice Horn and Mike Smith. Too many treasures to number, but especially remarkable selections of clematis and hybrid penstemons. The display garden is a not-to-be-missed gem.
Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery
Roy and Sarah Klehm offer a broad selection of hardy plants, but their catalog is a veritable mother lode for fine peonies (both herbaceous and tree types).
Lily Nook
Nothing but lilies, lots of them, in every category. Particularly nice martagons.
Mt. Tahoma Nursery
Choice alpines—you won’t believe the primulas.
Northwest Native Seeds
Ron Ratko’s assemblage of western North American natives is a well of botanical treasures. E-mail him here to get the list.
Odyssey Bulbs
A fine selection, put together by plantsman Russell Stafford, of both familiar and unusual bulbs, including rarities like the fabled Chilean blue crocus.
Old House Gardens
Scott Kunst’s amazing selection of heirloom bulbs. The antique “broken” tulips are to die for (and you sure won’t find them anywhere else).
Pacific Rim Native Plant Nursery
Lots of goodies; specialties include species peonies, lilies, gentians, arisaemas, and irises.
Paul Christian Rare Plants
More choice bulbs, this time from the U.K. They export to the U.S.
Plant Delights
What would we do without Tony Avent’s irreverent sense of humor and fantastic plant offerings? Hostas, of course, but also agaves, arums, colocasias, ferns, rain lilies, salvias . . . it can take days to read the catalog thoroughly.
Rocky Mountain Rare Plants
Seeds of alpine plants, with a particular emphasis on western North America natives.
A wonderful selection of unusual seeds, mainly for Mediterranean-climate gardens. Very strong in salvias and California natives.
Seneca Hill Perennials
A choice nursery nestled in snowy Oswego, NY, with all sorts of surprising treasures (including a large number of hardy South African plants). Ellen Hornig’s lucid descriptions are a pleasure to read.
Silverhill Seeds
The cream of the flora of southern Africa, in mind-bending profusion.
Telos Rare Bulbs
Absolutely amazing things from California, South Africa, and South America.
Wildwood Gardens
Very nice iris selections, including Pacific Coast hybrids.
Yucca Do Nursery
Treasures (most of them drought-tolerant) for mild-climate gardens (Zones 7–8 and above), although there are some hardier offerings as well. Great agaves, bromeliads, cacti, crinums, palms, and other choice plants.