Dear Miss Floribunda,
Will the Hyattsville Horticulture Society (HHS) have a seed sale again this February? I certainly hope so, and this would be my fifth year coming. Now, I like the seeds provided from the Hart company. I am glad they are not genetically engineered; everything I’ve planted has sprouted; most of what has sprouted has thrived. However, over the years I haven’t noticed very many new introductions, and those few were among the vegetables. While I think white radishes with red centers and purple carrots and tomatoes are nice, I’d like to see more heirlooms and/or a greater variety of new hybrids among flowers. Don’t give up on Hart altogether, please, but couldn’t you find some supplemental supplier among the other small companies that don’t flood supermarkets and mainstream hardware stores usually about a week after your sale?
Half-Harted on Hamilton Street
You are not without influence in Hyattsville, Maryland. First, the HHS will indeed have a sale on February 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Municipal Building in the Mary Prangley Room. In addition to seeds, we will have a book and bake sale, provide hot soup and drinks, and have tables with educational material manned by experts to answer your questions. Next, in addition to the tried-and-true Hart selections, you will find alternative offerings from another even older company, Landreth Seeds. George Washington ordered seeds from them, and their standards haven’t faltered since his day.
The selection is indeed impressive – the HHS seed committee has had to choose from more than 450 vegetable varieties and 200 floral ones. Heirloom varieties supplementing those of Hart will be available, as well as new hybrids. If you think purple carrots and tomatoes are cool, how about purple cauliflowers and purple potatoes? Scarlet lettuce? Lemon cucumbers? Of course, in addition to novelty the HHS seed committee makes sure everything selected will be appropriate to our climate and sure to thrive in our hot summers.
Personally, I liked the Hart name for sentimental reasons, and its timeliness for our pre-Valentine dates each year. As you may know, we host the sale in February because the earlier you start your seeds indoors, the farther along they will be when you plant them outside after danger of frost is past.
But Landreth even offers a Valentine Collection with a Victorian Language of Flowers theme. (I suspect few modern gardeners have guessed that the purple gomphrena we use in dried-flower arrangements symbolizes enduring love.) There is also a Children’s Garden Collection of easy-to-grow and colorful plants, an African-American Heritage Collection of vegetables that includes such rarities as burgundy okra, a Patio Collection of minis for apartment balcony gardeners that even includes tiny pumpkins. You won’t want to miss this.
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