Park Seeds, history

Is there a real difference between seed companies ...or is it simply creative advertising? Here is an interesting and brief history of Park Seeds which appeared originally in the gardening newsletter, Avant Gardener.

Park Seeds was founded in 1866 by a 15-year old schoolboy, George W. Park, living in Livonia, Pennsylvania, selling seeds of flowers his mother grew in their backyard to friends and through classified advertisements. He published his first seed catalog in 1866; it contained 8 pages, and soon followed this with a magazine, 'Park’s Floral Magazine' that eventually generated a circulation of 800,000.

George married Carol Mary Barrall and they had two sons, George and William. The family moved its business to Dunedin, Florida, then to Mary’s home town of Greenwood, South Carolina after they discovered that stored seed lost germination quickly in Florida’s humid climate, before the days of air conditioning.

The business thrived in Greenwood and the family acquired 500 acres for a beautiful modern administration office, climate controlled warehouse facilities, and one of the most extensive test gardens in North America. George died in 1937 and the company branched out into selling vegetable seeds as well as flowers. It established ties to California plant breeders for the introduction of Park exclusives, such as Park’s ‘Whopper’ tomato, becoming a main competitor to Burpee Seeds. For years Park Seed hosted a press conference at the Tavern on the Green restaurant, in New York’s Central Park, hosted by George W. Park Jr., followed in summer by open days so that the gardening press and customers could tour their colorful trial gardens in Greenwood.

In 1975 Park Seeds acquired Wayside Gardens, a New York nursery famous for selling perennials and woody plants by mail. The Park family ran the business until 2005 when it was sold to Donald Hachenberger, a Florida real estate developer. Unfortunately, he took on more than he could manage and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Although the highest bid was from Gardens Alive, which owns Spring Hill Nurseries, Henry Field, Gurney Seed and Nursery, Brecks Bulbs and other horticultural enterprises, the judge accepted a lower bid from Blackstreet Capital, a Maryland company, because Blackstreet promised to keep the company headquartered in Greenwood, where many people there depended on the business for their livelihood. Park Seeds continues to publish a handsome full color catalog of flowers and vegetables and a website at www.parkseed.com


Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News