Cook’s Garden: Ellen Ogden Responds


Ellen Ogden of Cook’s Garden fame responded to my post last month about the changes to the catalog. I wrote to Ellen to thank her and to ask her if I could re-post her comment here to make sure everyone saw it.  She graciously agreed, so here you go:

As the "cook" of The Cook’s Garden, and original co-founder back in 1984, I greatly appreciate all of your kind words about the catalog and comments about the new format. Passion and enthusiasm for gardening and cooking motivated us to publish The Cook’s Garden 25 years, and we had no idea that the catalog would still exist. It has been rewarding to discover new salad greens and veggies that we could share with other dedicated gardeners, and there is no question that Mary Azarian’s woodcuts added a magical appeal to the catalog.

The 2008 catalog is definitely a new twist for Cook’s, and while I was not involved in the decision, I was actually delighted by the beautiful photographs of Four Seasons lettuce of Reine des Glaces, and other examples which show off how exquisite lettuce and mesclun can be. And Ros Creasy’s cover photo is a perfect example of how the food we grow translates into delicious eating, which is always been at the heart of Cook’s Garden.

Just like in the little "tip jar" on this blog page reads change is good, the photos are meant to offer inspiration and encouragement to gardeners. For the record, I remain an enthusiastic gardener and cook, and truly believe that whatever it takes to keep the connection for everyone to keep growing food from seed and enjoy good eating from their garden – is the ultimate universal goal.

Our original reason for selling the business was to provide a better product for our customers, since our "temperature controlled facility" was a wood stove in a drafty barn. It’s been an interesting journey, yet I am delighted that Cook’s is still in print and offers gardeners the same heirloom lettuce, radicchio and mesclun that we first discovered 24 years ago.


  1. Politics of the catalog changing hands aside… I would much rather see a photo of what I’m buying versus a folksy woodcut drawing. Drawings are pretty, but not very informative.

    Cool Plant + Great Photo + Well-Written Description = Add this plant to my shopping cart!

  2. Me, I liked the woodcuts. But, even more, I miss the cartoon on the cover of the Territorial Seed catalog, which also disappeared this year.

    On the other hand, I’m still a Cook’s Garden fan. Ros Creasy, wow! To see a lettuce through her eyes, via the lens of her camera, is inspiring enough to qualify as high art. I can’t think of a more influential idea for me than edible landscaping, breaking down the silly genres that narrow our garden designs and make them less interesting, less ecological and sustainable, and much less tasty. Creasy’s pioneering work in edible landscapes still inspires me here in the Southeast, a long long way from the golden hills of my old California home.

    And, haven’t checked the catalog yet, but those Cook’s seasonal lettuce blends are handy and useful.

  3. I’m trying to locate seed for the chinese hami type melon snow charm. It was grown by me in the late 90’s,the seed seem to have disappeared. I think you had them in 1994 trials

  4. The Cooks Garden Nursery has been near and dear to my heart since approx 1990 when I began planting from seed. I have learned so very much! However, I do miss the old style catalog as it was so very authentic. There were also a far greater variety of seed choices. I am always very sad when a business like this one changes hands. We need real gardeners to own and operate seed companies like this one.

  5. I also am sad to see it go to a big company like Burpee’s. I miss the home grown feel and I have to admit I don’t trust the new one as much. I received both Cooks and Burpee’s catalogs the same week–they look alot alike and even with some of the same pictures! Any recommendations for a smaller company with more organic and heirloom varieties?

  6. The drawings are gone! This is crushing! Although I have ordered from Burpee’s (and as a matter of fact just bought some of their seeds today at K-Mart, for 40% off)I am so sorry the Ogdens had to sell. Now it’s just another piece of the Burpee conglomerate. Like we need any more of the big seed conglomerates.

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