DENVER — My favorite part about collecting my mail is the arrival of seed catalogs. They've been an important of American life for over a century.
While garden centers and nurseries offer a wide array of seeds, many gardeners prefer to sit down with a seed catalog to make our choices. They're spring dreams in hard copy form.
Seed companies also list their inventory online; I make my choices from the catalog and then place my orders online.
So how do you get started? You can request a catalog from a company online or bypass the catalog and view contents on your computer screen. Many seed companies have been around for generations. I've found that they all provide good service and delivery.
Some of the most prominent companies include Burpee Seed, Johnny's Seed, Seeds 'n Such, Select Seeds, Park Seed, Territorial Seed, Gurney's Seed & Nursery, Botanical Interests, John Scheepers, Renee's Garden Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom seeds, Pinetree Garden Seeds, and Seed Needs.
Many gardeners concentrate on flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Some catalogs will highlight these selections and you can also do your homework before ordering.
While petunias, geraniums and begonias remain very popular, they're not much use to pollinators because they don't carry much pollen. Add other flowers to your pots and beds that offer more pollen.
Annual members of the daisy family such as zinnias, marigolds, calendula, sunflower, Mexican sunflower and cosmos really attract butterflies.
In addition, carrot family plants such as dill, fennel, chervil, parsley, carrots and Queen Anne's lace (wild carrot) are essential to yellow swallowtail butterflies. Their yellow, green and black caterpillars will often be found on their foliage so leave them alone to eat and you'll always have swallowtails.
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