One of the greatest pleasures of including heritage plants in my garden is pouring over seed catalogues specializing in heirloom/heritage seeds.
If you have a good imagination (that’d be me!), reading the descriptions of old varieties will take you straight back to earlier eras, when seed was precious and saved from generation to generation. For me, seed catalogues make great garden reads! Read on to learn just a few of the amazing stories told by seeds from Manitoba’s Heritage Harvest Seeds.
A Sweet Pea Story
It’s remarkable to understand that plant cultivars can live for hundreds of years. Take this description of Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’s Original’ from Heritage Harvest Seeds’ illustrated catalogue: “In 1699 the Cupani Sweet Pea was found growing wild in Sicily, then sent by Sicilian monk Father Franciscus Cupani to a teacher in Middlesex, England. This is the original variety that all sweet peas originated from… blossoms are intensely colored and strongly perfumed.” Isn’t it amazing that you can grow a 300+ year old flower in your own garden?
Dill With Heart
Or how about Heritage Harvest Seeds’ ‘Old Ukrainian’ dill? The catalogue says “I am very happy to offer this century-old strain of dill that has been grown on my farm since my great-grandparents first settled there from the Ukraine.” This is not seed that came from a packet purchased at a big box store. This family has a heart connection to that seed. And so can you if you order some.
A Bean From the Dirty Thirties
The life force in bean seeds is so strong that they’ve been known to germinate thousands of years later. The catalogue’s ‘Lena’s Bean’ has this story to tell: “…a lady named Anne obtained the seed from her friend Lena of Regina. Lena’s family received the seeds during the “Dirty Thirties” as part of a relief package from the federal government. Apparently these seeds were distributed as cooking beans and Lena’s mother decided to grow some for themselves… I am very happy to be able to offer this piece of Canadian history!” I am sure these beans would taste more delicious on my dinner plate because I know their story.
There are hundreds of stories like these, all waiting for you in the pages of catalogues like Heritage Harvest Seeds. They specialize in rare and endangered heirloom/heritage varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs and ancient grains, with over 800 varieties to choose from. Pay them a visit and you’ll be hooked on seeds with a story!