50 Best Seed Merchants and Catalogues

Since I put this list together 7 years ago but I have now started to favour Kings Seeds (Suffolk Herbs) for my vegetables. I also get many more seeds from clubs and organisations rather than merchants.

Seed catalogues


My Regular Suppliers

Thompson-Morgan have 2206 different packets of seeds. Their catalogue is one of the most colourful and once on their list you get regular offers. They are a good partner to Gardeners Tips and if you buy via our link we get a small commission that helps with our costs – Searchable T&M site.

Wallis Seeds have a new web site and are based in   Chelmsford Essex . I like buying by weight for some varieties that I can scatter willy-nilly so 15 gms of Calendula ‘Pacific Beauty’ and ‘Art Shades’ are on the way .

Chiltern Seeds of Ulverston Cumbria   www.chilternseeds.co.uk have  a 220 page densely packed catalogue.  They are good for providing Latin names and  flowery comments on each variety.

Vegetables Seed Suppliers

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Grow a Low Allergy Garden – Scent and Smell

Hay fever and Asthma attacks can be brought on by Scented Plants as well as pollen or Fungal Spores. Histamin problems can also be exacerbated by scent and smells in the garden.


Tips to cut Spores and Fungus

  • Ferns reproduce by sending out millions of spores from under the leaves. If you suffer then do not grow any ferns.
  • Fungus and mould are common names for a large variety of mycelium like Alternaria that grow on dead and rotting plants. They reproduce by light invisible spores that are distributed in the air usually in late Summer and Autumn.
  • Reduce the concentration of spores by good husbandry, keep rotting plant matter to a minimum, don’t use bark as a mulch, dustbin infected leaves and more drastically remove hedges that collect spores
  • Compost heaps are home to fungus and ideally should be avoided if you are allergic but a closed system rather than an open pile will be better.
  • Spent mushroom compost can be an allergy disaster – don’t use it.
  • Organic compost and mulch may be a problem but coconut shell is probably one of the lower spore hosts. Compost in a closed container.

Scented Plants are generally pollinated by insects feeding on the nectar. This can include wasps and bees so if you are allergic to stings avoid such plants. Some people are sensitive to a range of smells and perfumes or just the scent of one plants such as a lily or honeysuckle and in this case choosing plants for a garden can be an issue.

  • Aromatic leaved plants like many herbs only give off a scent when brushed or crushed so it may be worth growing herbs but take care with Lavender.
  • If you are allergic to Daisies you will also potentially be allergic to Asters, Chrysanthemeum and other members of the same ‘compositae’ family.
  • Don’t sniff individual plants
  • Many double flowered varieties attract pollination by colour and have less scent.
  • Fruit attract wasps so if allergic to stings don’t grow them or have another member of the family grow them well away from windows into the house.
  • Some allergies are related to individual plants like Strawberries and Tomato so watch for individual reactions and root out offenders.
  • Deciduous trees have more pollen than evergreens.

For a short video watch
Read more about pollen in a low allergy garden

Some top tips from the Asthma society of Ireland for creating an allergy friendly garden include;

1. Choose plants that are pollinated by bees, the pollen is heavier and sticky and therefore stays on the bees rather than floating around the garden.
2. Avoid wind pollinated plants which disperse copious amounts of pollen into the air.
3. Avoid plants which are intensely fragrant as they can be a trigger for allergies and asthma.
4. Choose female plants, as they produce no pollen. Sterile male plants are also a good choice.
5. Grass is a major pollen producer so mow your lawn regularly, before it flowers.
6. Wear a mask when mowing lawn or trimming hedge.
7. If possible replace your lawn with gravel
8. Replace organic mulches with inorganic mulches
9. Avoid ornamental grasses in your planting schemes.
10. Remove hedges which harbour dust, pollen grains and mould spores which can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.


Allergic to Scented Plants?

Allergies can be exacerbated by plants just ask a hayfever sufferer. Pollen and strong scent often combine together and beware of allergic reactions to your garden plants.


Plants to be Wary Of

Asthma sufferers often complain that it is the scented garden plants that bring out the condition.
Generally it is the heavily fragrant flowers but sometimes it is a single species such as Honeysuckle that cause the problem.
Lilies like the Lilium Regale are one of the best scented flowers but one of the worst culprits for allergies.
The Dianthus family of Carnations, Sweet Williams and Pinks with a spicy scent are known to bring on hay fever.
Although generally unscented, many flowers from the Asteraceae or Daisy family seem to be allergenically toxic to many people. If you suffer then it is best to exclude members of this large family including Asters, Chrysanthemums, Marigolds and other similar looking flowers.
Avoid ornamental grasses heavy in pollen.


Top Low Allergy Flowers

  • Aromatic plants which smell due to essential oils are less likely to cause some allergies but if you are very sensitive it is best to avoid Herbs, Lavender and Eucalyptus. Or at least do not inhale bruised leaves.
  • Winter heather Erica Carnea in white and pink can look stunning from Autumn through winter.
  • Geraniums such as the perennial cranesbill, Johnsons Blue is my favourite.
  • Climbing roses can be a problem but Iceberg has a low level of scent and I have seen Handel and Rambling Rector also recommended.
  • Fuchsia magellanica are available in many varieties
  • Hydrangea macrophylla including cultivars  Ayesha, and Madame Emille Mouillere plus Lacecap varieties give you a wide choice of large flowerheads.
  • Orchids as houseplants have cause allergic reaction.

Todmorden 055

Allergic advice from Thompson Morgan
If you have hay fever, asthma or severe allergies, you should avoid eating flowers of the daisy family because they could trigger an allergic reaction. Take care when choosing a location for mushroom growing as some people are allergic to mushrooms or mushroom spores and others may become sensitised by high concentrations of spores.


Top Tips for Growing in Pots

Sedum bootimus-Don’t judge the results by the crop you harvest but by the seeds you sow

Ten Tips for Growing in Pots and Containers

  1. Terracotta is a sympathetic choice for containers in your garden. They are also porous and let in air and allow plant roots to cool through evaporation.
  2. Try several pots of the same size and or shape in a group (I like ‘long tom’ pots). Planted with Agrostis Cloud grass will create a real impact.
  3. Exotics like Banana plants look shapely and they can be moved, pot and all into shelter or wrapped for winter protection.
  4. Keep a sense of balance between the needs of your container plants. They need water, food and light but not an excess of any one feature. The pot is a micro environment that needs regular care such as watering / drainage, fertilizer and shelter.
  5. Trailing plants will benefit from a bit of training in  the right direction.  Pinch out rampant plants and those you want to branch. Pick off faded flowers.
  6. Constant watering can wash out nutrients so give a weekly liquid feed.
  7. Mix plants of different colours, textures, habits and heights. Variegated plants and scented plants often work well.
  8. Locate the pot carefully as the aesthetic of the base and pot combination can be important. A gravel or coloured chipping base can be very effective.
  9. Do not be too conventional with the container. In addition to the old gardeners boot (above) I have seen a wheel barrow planted with courgettes and fire buckets (with holes) used for displays. Use your artistic skills like many container on the top of barges that are brightly painted.
  10. Choose appropriate plants. Below is a second top ten of plants you may want to try in pots.

Top Ten Plants for Outdoor Pots

  1. Clematis cartmanii ‘Joe’ is a white, spring flowering trailer that can be tied to an upright. Try it with blue Crocus or Muscari.

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Colourful Rudbeckia


I am never all that confident about mixing such strong colours in my garden. Needless to say therefore this picture was taken in a public park on the Victoria Embankment Garden. I was chased off the grass before I could get a better picture.

The tropical leaves provide green relief from the purples, reds and hot yellows. Somehow I am not convinced that this colour scheme would fit in my Northern garden.

The Rubeckia hardy perennials do grow with other members of the Compositea clan in my garden. Although many varieties like the Rudbeckia hirtas are recommended as half hardy annuals.

The AGM goes to the Rudbeckia speciosa for its large yellow flowers with a black centre and Rudbeckia triloba Brown Eyed Susan.


John Tradescant the Elder and Younger

Father 1570-1638 and son 1608-1662 both worked as gardener to the Royal family and are buried at St Marys Church Lambeth. At the Museum of Garden History in Lambeth there is a garden laid out using plants they introduced to the UK after trips to Russia, Africa and North America in the early 17th century.

As early traveling plant collectors both John Tradescants’ were responsible for many plant introductions and curios collected on their travels. Plants include Michaelmas daisy, Cistus, Acer,  Maple and Tradescantia

‘Musaeum Tradescantianum’ was the first museum catalogue published. Tradescant willed that the collection was to go to his widow on his death, but Elias Ashmole obtained the collection by deed of gift and established the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Some of these original items can still be seen in that museum and Ashmole is also buried at the Museum of Garden History. The tomb of the Tradescants stands beside the knot garden near that of Captain Bligh of the Bounty, and is covered in carvings representing their interests in life which showed them both to be ‘curious men’.


Streamside Gardens to Delight


If you are lucky enough to have a stream running through your garden you can plant many colourful plants at the side.

Plants for a Streamside

  • Primula Candelabra hybrids look special in spring and early summer. The flowers appear on the 18 inch stems in tiers of red, yellow and orange.
  • Many Iris varieties are at home by the side of water. The Siberian Iris sibirica can be yellow, white, purple or blue and the sword shaped leaves grow well in moist soil. Iris laevigata flowers purple and can grow right at the margins with its feet in 3-4 inches of water.
  • For soft greens, Alchemilla Mollis grows almost anywhere in my garden and Hostas also like a moist soil.
  • Astilbe can be a fine herbaceous plant with fern like foliage and plumes of frothy flowers.
  • For a bit of annual colour you could sow Mirabilis jalpa the Four o’clock flower growing to 3-4 feet tall with some Impatiens accent series for a lower grower.
  • Bugle is good for ground cover Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow for blue flowers and tricolured leaves. Persicaria superba has pink flowers later in the year and spreads well.
  • For a tree in acid soil the Amelanchier is hard to beat with flowers, berries and coloured autumn leaves or the Spotted laurel and Black Pussy Willows both like a moist soil.

Other Tips for Gardening by a Stream

  • Plants that prefer dryer conditions should be planted higher up the banking.
  • Give plants enough space to develop, the moist and humid conditions will generally encourage lush growth.
  • Beware fast flowing streams and those likely to over flow there banks lest they wash away your prize plants.
  • Foliage and texture can be as important as colour but a bright splash (no pun intended) of yellow or bright white can be reflected by the water.

harlow-carrHarlow Carr Candelabra primula by the stream 2008.

Read more about Wild Iris on Gardeners Tips.


Autumn Blues

Lister Park 067

Every colour has its day and for blue that is often in Autumn. This is a selection of our blue to purple plants showing off during mid to late October.

Blue conifer

There are not too many plants that form a blue leaf or needles in this case. Eventually this Firs young needles will turn green.
Some Hostas are said to have blue leaves or blue/green.


Michaelmas daisies are one of our favourites on Gardeners Tips as you may have noticed.

Geranium  Rozane Gerwat

Blue is a tough colour to get right in the garden. Roses, Dahlia and Narcissus are renown for not having blue varieties. I have cheated with this hard Geranium that was in flower earlier in the year.


Ideas for a Shady Border


Plant selection

  • Plant tall flowering shrubs to bring a splash of colour to a dull corner or to make a shady border come to life. Hydrangea macrophylla or Rosa Rugosa will suit. More shrub ideas
  • Taller perennials and other to consider include Astible, Lilies, Ligularia or Foxglove.
  • Hostas and Hebes both do well in shade and if it is dry Eupohorbia polychroma and Iris foetidissima would work.
  • Try something a bit architectural such as Bears Breeches Acanthus mollis with tall flower spikes in summer and famous shaped leaves. Echinops globe thistles would be an alternative and Crocosmia has sword shaped leaves.
  • A smoke bush tree Cotinus coggyria is a good purple leaved shrub with airy pink/white

Planting Tips

  • Avoid planting too close to large trees as the roots take all the water. Anemone hybrids survive the dry but may not reach their full 3′ height.
  • Remove weeds and incorporate compost or manure to retain what moisture it can.
  • Plant shrubs in Autumn to give the roots chance to become established. Continue Reading →

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