News From The Middle West


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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.



  1. I got a TON of seed and veggie catalogs this year–these people clearly do not know me.

    I kind of had mixed reactions to Jung’s. My sense is their seeds are probably good. Their plants I am not so sure about. And ordering trees from a catalog seems nuts to me.

    A lot of weirdo vegetables! Guess they have to keep you edible-growers entertained.

    (Is spellcheck new in these comment boxes? If so, thank god for it.)

  2. Elizabeth, I have had great luck with trees shipped bareroot from places like Fedco and St. Lawrence Nurseries. And the selection is so much bigger than it is at any nursery near me.

  3. The mere mention of gooseberries sent me running for the Jung catalogue. As a transplanted Brit I crave a good ‘ol gooseberry crumble. Its one of the classic English deserts. This recipe from the Green Chronicle sounds the business and its organic to boot. I think you’ll love it – that’s if there are any gooseberries left after the kids have ransacked the bushes. Got to give these invicta gooseberries a whirl!

  4. For help sorting through seed catalogs, veggie enthusiasts might be interested in a website I help with at work. It’s the Cornell Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

    It includes descriptions and seed sources for more than 5,000 varieties, and gardeners can register to rate and review varieties. (Visitors can read reviews/ratings without registering.)

    We could really use more reviews at the website. So please stop by and tell others about your favorite varieties — as well as those that haven’t worked out so well for you.

  5. Oh my goodness Ellis Hollow, I cannot imagine anything more fun than giving the thumbs up or thumbs down to the stuff I grew last summer. Thanks for telling me about it.

  6. Thanks for that ‘thumb’s up’ for Jung’s. I just received my first issue and the lingonberries caught my eye mainly due to YE over at Bliss! Will take a more thorough look now!

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