Of course, as a business, Jung’s is not nearly as innocent as the catalog suggests, reportedly buying most of its seed from a division of Monsanto. It also owns a bunch of specialty catalogs, including bulb purveyor McClure & Zimmerman, which sent such execrable tiny moldy bulbs to me last year at such a high price that I’ve decided to use the cash this year instead to start fires.
But I feel I get information from Jung’s I’d never get if I were a hair snobbier about my garden purveyors. This year I’m thinking about…
- Japanese Striped Maize. Its leaves are striped pink, green, and cream, so they look like really wide expensive ribbon. I don’t know what I’d do with such a plant–purely ornamental and big enough to eat half the vegetable garden. But it’s really pretty.
- Sanguinaria canadensis. Evidence that there is a heaven, largely populated by gardening angels. I’ve never bought this delicate white wildflower, much as it thrills me when I stumble across it behind a gas station or in the woods, because I’ve always assumed it would find my garden much too harsh and sarcastic and instantly shrivel. But when it can be had at the reasonable price of 3 for $9.95–well, it needs to be ordered.
- Taquetti Superba Astilbe. I’ve never seen this super-emphatic, exclamation-point-shaped, out-sized astilbe offered anywhere else. Jung’s promises that it is more heat and drought tolerant than the rest of its wussy family.
- Lapin sweet cherries. I’ve always assumed that sweet cherry trees have to be giant and puzzled about how to place one in my city yard. Jung’s says Lapin is a natural semi-dwarf that will grow only 12 to 15 feet tall.
- Cranberries and lingonberries used as ground covers. Nice alternatives to vinca, in my opinion. Of course, I tend to have a Gingerbread House view of landscaping. If you can build it out of gumdrops and lollipops, why wouldn’t you?
Clearly, Jung’s is a mixed bag and wins mixed reviews on Dave’s Garden. They seem not to have heard of organic and sell an arsenal of chemicals. At the same time, they offer lots of heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties that can get by without the spraying. They sell all their tougher roses on their own roots, a sign of people who know roses in my book. They presume that their audience grows a bit of food among the posies. If the world grew too sophisticated for Jung’s, well, I’d miss them.