It is great fun to flip through seed catalogs and dream of enticing veggies and beautiful flowers for the upcoming growing season. I usually create list after list of plants I want to grow, searching for ones I had read about in the past year or searching for qualities such as “cold hardiness,” “heat resistant,” or “attracts beneficial insects.” Because I don’t receive every catalog (there are so many), I often turn to the National Garden Bureau (NGB) website to learn of more varieties. Founded in 1920, the NBG is an Illinois-based, non-profit organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life and the environment through increased seeds and plants. Individual and corporate members engaged in the production and/or sale of horticultural products for home gardeners pay dues to support the NGB. The web site lists more than 70 members, retail and wholesale.
Each year, the members can list their new varieties through NGB. As of this week in December 2014, there are 45 “new for 2015” vegetable varieties and 62 “new for 2015” flower varieties. For each plant there is a short description, cultural requirements, and the member organization offering the seed (although it may be wholesale in which case you would have to contact them for a retail outlet). Note that “new” means new to that company, not new to the market. For example, Arugula Dragon’s Tongue is listed as new for 2015 and is offered by Botanical Interests but it is not new to me, I have seen it in the Park Seed catalog. Butterscotch is new, it is a mini butternut winter squash developed by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. The NGB also is a great way to learn about seed companies — R.H. Shumway, Totally Tomatoes, and Vermont Bean Seed were new to me so I added them plus a few more to my “seed catalogs” page/tab on my blog at http://www.pegplant.com.
There are many more features on the NBG website including plants of the year. Each year they select one annual, one perennial, and one edible as plant of the year because they are popular, easy to grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile. For 2015, the plants of the year are: coleus (annual), gaillardia (perennial), and sweet peppers ( edible). Sign up to receive NBG’s e-mails and expect to hear more from them on these plants next year!