Although winter hasn't officially arrived, many gardeners are already planning their spring and looking through mail-order catalogs for the perfect plants.
Mail-order gardening has grown in recent years. Along with the convenience of mail-order shopping comes the availability of a variety of plants not commonly found in the area. There is also a Web site dedicated to mail-order gardening: www.mailorder gardening.com.
The site was started by the Mailorder Gardening Association, an "organization composed of companies that sell gardening products via print catalogs and Web sites, and gardening magazines and professional supporting companies," according to a statement on the site.
"The ultimate goal of the MGA is to provide the gardening public with the finest gardening products, gardening information and customer service through the catalogs, Web sites and magazines of MGA member companies," the site says.
The site offers a multitude of links to various gardening catalogs and offers visitors the opportunity to search for a specific variety of plant or by a particular catalog. The site also includes a hardiness zone map and a link on children's gardening.
While ordering plants and products via mail is convenient, it's imperative that buyers know what they are ordering. For instance, plants may come as bare roots, potted plants, seeds or bulbs. Knowing the difference can be extremely helpful in preparing for the planting and blooming of the plant. For example, if a plant arrives as a seed, it will take longer to mature than a potted plant.
It's also important to know the hardiness of the plant, which will help determine whether it will grow well in your area. Each catalog offers a hardiness zone map, which makes picking out plants easier.
January has been named National Garden Mail Order Month, and MGA celebrated its 75th anniversary last year and has received the endorsement of Paul James, "the gardener guy."
James, a master gardener, was host of HGTV's Gardening by the Yard.
"A lot of people ask me where I get all of my cool gardening plants, tools and supplies. The answer is simple: from mail-order gardening catalogs and Web sites," said James in a video on the MGA site. "With a quick phone call or Web site visit, I can order the newest varieties of plants, seeds and other gardening products and have them delivered right to my door."
As the gardening catalogs start to arrive and spring and summer gardens are planned, take time to carefully plan each purchase. The vast array of products available can help make a garden stand out when spring rolls around.
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