Pilgrimage to Jelitto seeds
For anyone suffering seedaholism (a little known disease you can probably diagnose) a visit to Jelitto's is very much like a devout Moslem's Hadj to Mecca, or an Elvis Presley fan at Graceland: this place is it. Mind you I spent several years in Fort Collins working on the GRIN project (Germplasm Resources Information Network) which computerized the National Seed Storage Laboratory (which I frequently toured during those years--it was a stone's throw from my office). They've renamed the Lab the National Institute for Seed something...and it remains one of the largest seed repositories on earth. Jelitto is not quite that ambitious, but the size is comparable and Jelitto's was even more interesting for me because it has several commodious rooms for seed cleaning as well as room after room for seed testing, storage, an immense walk in cooler, and a dozen other spaces that spoke to the scope and thoroughness of the greatest seed house on earth.
Of course, there are much larger seed companies that do just vegetable seed or annuals (and I honor these short lived and delightful crops)...but hey, man, perennials, alpines and grasses are my thing, and nobody can hold a candle to Jelitto's in that department.
This is Georg Uebelhart, principal owner and guru of Jelitto. I have been fortunate to know Georg for many years, and must take this opportunity to thank him for one of the most gracious visits I have ever had anywhere: he treated me and Mike Bone royally. Showing us all around Jelitto's, wining and dining us nearby, showing us his home garden and meeting his wonderful family: we spent three simply luminous days with him and I savored every moment. After an intense and sometimes edgy three weeks in Kazakhstan (where creature comforts are not always first priority, if you know what I mean), the charm and famous efficiency (and just plain luxury) that are all hallmarks of Germany were a jarring and utterly welcome contrast. Both Mike and I agreed we couldn't wait to get back to Schwarmstedt. Georg! I salute you and your coworkers! Long may you flourish!