Something Special: Unique Varieties for the Garden

by Erin Enouen


Though we love all (open-pollinated, heirloom and organic) seeds, there are some that spark conversations more than others. The following top ten unique varieties delight the senses, make us stop to ponder and and bring joy in their singular specialness.

IMG_5498Starflower Featured in our Winter Flowers post, Starflower deserves even more recognition! A beauty to behold, lasting long into the winter months. The papery seed heads strike our fancy. Great in floral arrangements any season.

Cuccuzi Gourd Not for the faint of heart or the small of space! Cuccuzi Gourds are an Italian vegetable, used similar to zucchini when very very young. Vines grow up to 20' long! Wonderful when trellised, best if kept away from other plantings. Another thing that makes this variety so special: This white flowered cucurbit is evening blooming.img_2518

Lemon Drop Hot Pepper This small yellow wrinkled pepper has a citrusy heat that is powerful but never overwhelming. The initial heat of the pepper vanishes quickly after hitting the tongue, leaving behind a fresh lemony aroma. One to two peppers adds the perfect amount of heat to a dish. This pepper also makes a great hot sauce, which you'll want to do if you grow even 1-2 plants--they generally produce an overwhelming number of peppers!


Fish Hot Pepper Another pepper, this one might be best for the flower garden! This special heirloom comes from William Woyce Weaver, passed to him from his father. The unique variegated leaves and fruits are dazzling to look at. There is some variability among the height of the plants, probably due to selecting for the unique genetic trait of variegation. A nice, hot pepper, great in Cajun dishes and fresh sauces.
Coral Fountain Amaranth A beautiful coral hued Love-Lies-Bleeding type of amaranth, often seen gracing the landscapes of botanical gardens. The dramatic cascade of the seed heads all in a row was one of our favorite views on this seed farm this year. A great choice for landscapes and for flower arrangements.
Sacred Basil Also known as Tulsi. We are often asked at events by the uninitiated whether this is a culinary basil. While it is edible is use is primarily medicinal and the flavor to powerful for cooking. The compact plants are very fragrant, emitting a pleasant floral aroma that lingers in the garden. Sacred Basil also self sows, a lovely surprise every spring! To use: Dry the leaves and brew as a tea. Promotes longevity.
Papalo A staff favorite for years, this herb is a treat to share. The flavor is somewhere between curry leaf and cilantro, but about 4 times stronger. One plant is plenty enough for a household, perhaps even three! Great in any recipe in place of fresh cilantro, just use a quarter of the volume.
IMG_2913Purple Vienna Kohlrabi An old European vegetable that has made a bit of a comeback the past decade. The intergalactic looking bulbs of this variety are a shade of purple our Sales Associate Lauren describes as "out of this world." A great, crunchy addition to slaws and root vegetable roasts too!


Red Swan Bean Oh man, the color of this bean! The result of a cross between a pinto and a red snap bean, and the result is amazing. The rose color seems almost translucent, letting some of the green shine through. The beans themselves are flat like a romano with a great, earthy flavor. A great choice for those who like edible landscaping, we enjoyed the pretty bi-colored flowers in our trials too.
Blue Jade Sweet Corn What could be better than a compact, heirloom sweet corn you can grow in containers? One that is blue of course! This corn is deceiving, most take a look and think it is for drying, but the blue hue arrives just in time to let you know when the cobs are at the best fresh eating stage. While the cobs are shorter than traditional sweet corn varieties, the petite plants have multiple cob producing stalks, so you do get 1-3 per plant.