Saving Seeds at Bartram’s Garden

The gardeners at Bartram’s Garden are thrilled to once again begin sharing seeds from the garden this year after a 4-year hiatus! From our garden to yours, we offer a selection of wildflowers, annual garden flowers, heirloom vegetables, and herbs. We are honored to participate in the age-old collaboration between plants and people, continuing to perpetuate important, beautiful, and useful plants, along with the multitude of stories that they carry, from generation to generation.

As plants in our garden begin to ripen seeds, we harvest them and store them in paper bags in a dry cool place so they can dry while we are busy in the garden doing other things. Then we invite you, our friends and neighbors, to come over and help us clean and pack the seeds for sale in our shop. Volunteers always are invited to leave with packets of seed! We will be packing our seeds into beautiful envelopes newly designed for us by Heads of State, a Philadelphia design firm. The packets boast that the seeds were grown right here in Southwest Philly! The seeds will be available for sale in our welcome center and also through our good friends at True Love Seeds ( True Love Seeds is a new Philadelphia-based seed company specializing in rare, open-pollinated, and culturally important vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. This is a mission we can get behind!

One of the seeds we are offering is Capsicum Annuum, or Willings Barbados Pepper. This chile pepper is native to Barbados. It’s a prolific small hot pepper grows that grows wild there and is a classic ingredient in Caribbean cooking. The tiny, upward-facing peppers are dark green, turning bright orange and red as they ripen. Birds love them. The plant was given to John Bartram in the 1760s by Charles Willing, a man who was mayor of Philadelphia twice, for plant collector Sir John St. Clair of Delaware’s special collection of tropical plants. Back then, people in the United States grew hot peppers as houseplants for their beauty. Willing’s Barbados Pepper grows in full sun in regular garden soil.

For the shady garden, we offer Nicotiana Sylvestris, or woodland tobacco. It’s an annual with white trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom on a tall central stalk. They open at night and sweetly perfume the summer night air. Woodland tobacco grows up to 5 feet tall and attracts beautiful sphinx moths to visit the garden in the evening. It’s native to the mountains of Argentina and Bolivia. Very easy from seed, just scatter on the surface of the soil in a pot indoors or directly on the soil outdoors.

So please stop over and pick up some of our seeds for your garden and help us keep the ancient tradition of sharing seeds alive at Bartram’s Garden.

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