In Praise Of: Chiltern Seeds

Whether you have long-established green fingered credentials or you’re a newcomer to the joys of gardening, the pleasure of deciding which new seeds to plant in the coming season is always uplifting. Even the packaging of seeds is cheering, each envelope containing the precious potential for new life, promising a mass of colour or a delicious crop in the months ahead.

Chiltern Seeds at Burford Garden Co.
‘The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies…’

Gertrude Jekyll

Chiltern Seeds at Burford Farmhouse

We stock a large and varied selection of seeds from many established seed suppliers but this year we are delighted to be able to include a revered name which will be familiar to many of you – Chiltern Seeds. For nearly fifty years Chiltern Seeds’ huge and remarkable catalogue has been available via mail order only, and so we feel especially honoured to be the only place chosen to sell their renowned seeds.

Burford Garden Company


Burford Garden Company

The history behind Chiltern Seeds is delightful, its roots planted deeply in a passion for gardening that has crossed the generations. The company was the brainchild of the charismatic plantsman Douglas Bowden who, with his wife Bridget, from their kitchen table in the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire, established a business sending out exceptionally high-quality seeds that were unusual or often unavailable elsewhere. In 1980 the company moved north to Cumbria, where it flourished for three decades.

Chiltern Sisters, Heather and Sally

Heather & Sally, photographed by Eva Nemeth

Burford Garden Company


More recently, their two daughters, Heather and Sally, have taken over the running of the company, continuing the inspirational work in the spirit of their parents. There is a nice symmetry too in that they have moved the company back to the Chilterns so that it can again live up to its name, this time in Oxfordshire. Chiltern Seeds is now run from a group of picturesque old agricultural barns just outside Wallingford.

Burford Garden Company

Sweet Peas

Burford Garden Company

Bells of Ireland Molucella

Chiltern Seeds arrive in their iconic (not to mention compostable), white and green packets, but because of the way the company has evolved, these packets don’t include pictures of the grown plants of the seeds they contain. To help with this we have assembled a rather lovely Lookbook in store of all the Chiltern Seeds we stock so that you can use the index of common or Latin names to find familiar old friends or to whet your appetite for something new. We think the images of the plants and vegetables in the Lookbook are so beautiful it feels a bit like being in a cake shop and wanting one of each to try! Do visit our Garden Shop in store to take your pick of the bunch.