I ordered seeds from a few different places, and also bought some at big-box stores (the stuff I forgot to order from the nice seed place). Seeds from Italy has beautiful seed packets. I was inspired to order from them based on a mention on one of my favorite blogs, Gardenrant. The color photos on the large Franchi seed packets are so sharp and mouth-wateringly beautiful, they look almost three-dimensional. That is one reason why I was disappointed by the performance of one luscious-looking lettuce, by the sexy name 'Passion Brune.' If this is brunette passion, I can see why gentlemen prefer blondes.* Its green cousin is pumping out huge leaves, but ma brune didn't even sprout consistently. See photo evidence below.
Above, growing in the right-most cells, is 'Regina di Maggio,' about two weeks out, nicely sized and healthy. See that empty cell in the front on the left, and the one behind it with a puny runt of a wee sprout? That's the 'Passion Brune.' Humph.
Here's another view of the wrinkled, freckled little things. I might get a few plants from them, but out of the 10 seeds planted I have about 5 puny plants, which is not happy returns.
Happily, all of the other Franchi-brand seeds--parsley, basil, and the radicchio 'Orchidea Rossa' are looking wonderful. I am particularly happy about the radicchio, as it is so expensive in the supermarket (I mean the one variety of burgundy-and-cream brains that you can find typically), and there are many neat plants in the chicory family with all sorts of interesting colors out there. If this one does well, I'll try growing other types, too, for a wonderfully bitter and colorful salad (I like to pair radicchio/endive/chicory with a sweet (citrus, or perhaps pear) fruit and/or creamy-sharp cheese like Stilton or goat feta).
This is the promise of 'Orchidea Rossa.' If mine don't look like this, I'll hold myself responsible. How could I resist? Tantalizingly, a note pasted to the back of the packet says that the plant looks better in person. How?
*I know many passionate brunettes. I am one. Perhaps it is only brunette lettuce that lack luster?