Nothing is better than sitting near the fire on a rainy or snowy winter day and pursuing piles of seed catalogs and planning the garden to be planted in the spring.

Many seed sites have the ability to be viewed on line, but there is just something about those seed catalogs that make searching a pleasurable experience. Maybe because you can circle the seeds that interest you or tear the listing out of the magazine and organize them so you know you are getting the best deal. Sometimes reading without a back light while sitting in an easy chair is very nice.

The following are some of the best seed companies that you can depend on for a great variety of seeds and good quality. Most of them have been around for a long time.

Burpee Seed Company has been around since 1876 selling good quality and a great variety of seeds via mail order. Write to them to get a catalog at: Order Department/ W. Atlee Burpee & Company; 300 Park Avenue; Warminster, PA 18974-4860 or go to their website at: . On the site go to the top left bar and click on “Request a Catalog” to get a pop up form, which you can fill out and they will send you one. You can also take a look at the website and order from there. If you sign up for their newsletter, which has great information, you will get a coupon for money off an order. Burpee has all kinds of seeds including vegetables, flowers, perennials, annuals, herbs, fruit plants, organic seeds, heirloom seeds, seeds starting supplies and gardening supplies. The website also has how to videos, ask the expert, and some great articles on gardening.

Gurney’s Seeds is another seed mail order that has been around for many years. Their mailing address is: Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Company / Customer Service; PO Box 4178; Greendale, IN 47025-4178. Send them a request or access their website at: and click on “Free Catalog” at the top of the page. Fill in the form and enter your email to get a $25 off coupon. Gurney’s has a variety of seeds including all the types Burpee has. They even have a feature where you can shop by USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. They also have a variety of informational articles and you can ask questions.

Harris Seeds has been supplying both home gardeners and commercial gardens since the late 1800s. Their address to send for a catalog is 355 Paul Road; Rochester, NY 14624. To order a catalog or seeds online go to : and click on home gardeners. To order a free print catalog, go to the bottom of the page and look under the heading “Resources” and click on “Catalogs”. They also have a wide variety of seeds for just about anything a home gardener would need along with supplies including a good selection of seed starting materials like bottom warmers, and grow light systems.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds has only been around since the 70s and the catalog only came out in 2001, but it has a great selection of seeds and plants. Their artisan tomatoes come in all kinds of colors, shapes and sizes including purple and striped. Order a catalog by writing to them at: PO Box 299; Waterville ME 04903. The website, where you can also view and order product is at: . They also have a great variety of organic and heirloom seeds and plants.

Park Seeds has a great bunch of flowers as well as vegetables, fruits and everything else. It is the oldest mail order seed company by a decade in the 1860’s. Request a catalog by writing to: Park Seed Co./ 3507 Cokesbury Road; Hodges, SC 29653 or go to their website at: and go to the bottom of the page. Under the heading “Catalog” click on “Request Catalog”. Parks has unusual flowers and vegetables. The variety of sunflowers will simply boggle the mind, and there are even purple ones.

Nichols Garden Nursery has regular seeds for vegetables, flowers, shrubs, fruits, and a wide variety of herbs, but they also have a great deal of plants sent mail order. Their new and unusual section is really fun to peruse. Want to try growing corn suitable for grinding in to flour.? They have colorful flint corn seeds for sale. They also have an unusual snow white cherry tomato and purple bell peppers that almost look black. Go to their website at: . Unfortunately they do not have a print catalog anymore but you can download it in pdf format.

That is just a few of the mail order seed and plant companies that have really great catalogs you can inspect and plan your next great garden.