It’s the time of year to be buying in seeds for the year’s fruit and veggies. After last year’s glut of indigestible aubergines, we’re giving them a wide berth for 2014 and getting in seeds for the usual suspects – tomatoes, lettuces, peppers of different potencies, carrots, herbs and so on.

So I was very interested to see this ad in Les Annales from February 14th 1907, which I was flicking through today.

vilmorin001

Time to find out more. Vilmorin has been around in one form or another for 270 years. It was founded as a plant and seed boutique in 1743 by seed expert Claude Geoffroy and husband Pierre Andrieux. Pierre was the chief seed supplier and botanist to King Louis XV. Claude and Pierre’s daughter married another botanist, Philippe-Victoire Levêque de Vilmorin, and they revived the seed store under their combined names of Vilmorin-Andreiux. Their son, another Philippe, took over from his parents and began importing exotic plants and trees into Europe. Some of his early imports were beetroot and swedes, both veggies we consider as staples today.

A long line of Vilmorins took over from one another – Henry, Maurice, Philippe, Jacques, Louis, Louise, Olivier, Roger and André. But in 1972 the company left Vilmorin hands and was bought by René Hodée but three years later he sold the company to Groupe Limagrain. They shortened Vilmorin-Andrieux to just Vilmorin. A little later they set up the Oxadis division which took over vegetable seeds, flowers, trees, plant health products and garden supplies for the amateur market. Vilmorin these days deals only with vegetable seeds and tree for professional growers.