lawn and other fine garden seeds
In 1780, David Landreth and his family left England for Montreal, Canada where he intended to establish a seed business. Four years later, the harsh Canadian climate forced him to relocate to Philadelphia. On January 7, 1784, David Landreth started his first garden center on High Street, which is now 1210 Market Street. He chose Pennsylvania because people appeared to have more free time there, and Philadelphia was the center of wealth and sophistication in the United States.

Initially, he sold seeds to the City of Philadelphia and several nearby estates, but his business and his reputation grew steadily and soon he numbered George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s brother) among his customers. In 1798, he introduced the Zinnia into the United States from Mexico. In 1811, he introduced the first truly white potato. Prior to this introduction, potatoes had been yellow. In 1820, he introduced the tomato, known then as The Love Apple, and later perfected the first variety of yellow tomato.

In 1826, the Company introduced a new kind of spinach. The spinach eventually became known as Bloomsdale Spinach, one of the most popular vegetables ever grown and a favorite of gardeners even today. His son, David Landreth II, joined the firm in Philadelphia in the early 1820s. Together with his father,David Landreth II founded the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1828. The PHS is the father of all horticultural societies in the United States and sponsor of the Philadelphia Flower Show, the oldest flower show in the country; an event that has continued in existence for nearly 175 years.

David Landreth II had a consuming interest in international horticulture and imported many rare conifers and deciduous trees, including the giant rhododendron, kalmias and azaleas. During his long life, he introduced many new plants and shrubs, from all over the world and devoted much of his time to promoting the art and science of plant breeding. One of his greatest international adventures occurred in 1852 when, under his direction, Landreth’s prepared thousands of pounds of American vegetable seeds and put them in glass for Commodore Perry’s historic expedition to Japan.

When Commodore Perry returned to the United States, he brought to the Landreth Nurseries the first Japanese shrubs and plants ever to be imported into this country. In 1881, Burnet Landreth, the son of David Landreth II, supplied General Greeley of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition to the North Pole with a variety of seeds. The expedition was ill-fated, but in 1899 when Commodore Perry’s expedition rescued some of the Lady Franklin’s seeds, a mere 490 miles from the North Pole, they found that 50 percent of the radishes germinated after being in the Polar region for 16 years.

The Landreth family treasured America’s and the world’s agricultural and horticultural heritage. For more than 200 years, the Landreth Catalogues, Rural Registers and Almanacs introduced and chronicled the development of seeds, many of which are now heirlooms. Bloomsdale, the Landreth family home, had the best collection of trees in the United States – only Judge Field of Princeton and the Sargent family of Boston were in the same class. At one time, there were over 1200 species of deciduous and evergreen trees, some of which are still living.

Today, the D. Landreth Seed Company is the fifth oldest corporation in America. Among its many historic claims is the fact that the company sold seed to every American president from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Landreth story is the story of an American family business which was born near the time of America’s birth and grew with America over three centuries. It is a story of strong minded men and women of principle, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who pursued a path of innovation and exploration with the pioneering spirit that will always be the essence of what makes this country great.

D. Landreth Seed Company • 60 East High Street, Bldg #4 • New Freedom, Pennsylvania 17349   
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