It's official: Spring is here. And that means time to get out my flower- and vegetable-seed packets.

But I'm not talking about the kind replete with seeds -- some no larger than a pinhead -- sold at nurseries and hardware stores.

I'm thinking about the vintage variety long since empty of their bounty, the type that occasionally turns up at antiques collectives, estate sales and flea markets. Many of these date back to the 1920s and '30s, and some are from earlier than that.

The dozens of examples I've collected during the past three decades are carefully stowed away in an old seed box. Every March, some of them come out of hibernation to hail the arrival of spring.

I place several into an oblong bowl or small tray in my entryway. It's a quick way of adding life to an ultra-busy thoroughfare made dark because of winter.

And while I've never gotten around to it, I've always wanted to frame a selection of seed packets.

They make wonderful gifts and bookmarks. I've frequently given them to folks who celebrate a spring birthday. I put them in a sturdy acid-free sleeve to protect them and prevent bending.

Best of all, they don't cost much. They are often priced from $3 to $8 apiece, but I just saw a bunch tagged $20 for the lot at a Bay Area antiques fair.

Check out the April issue of Country Living magazine for a nifty three-page spread on these botanical beauties.

East Bay haul

My heartfelt thanks go to the many readers of "The Seasoned Collector" who attended both white elephant sales -- the preview in January and the main event earlier this month. Kathy Griffin, co-chairwoman for the event, wrote to say the Oakland Museum of California's 55th annual extravaganza raised $1.8 million.

And thanks also to the many readers from Contra Costa and Marin counties who came to see me at the 12th annual Antiques Show and Sale that took place in Dixon a couple of weeks ago. I was thrilled to also see several former San Jose residents now living in Fairfield or Williams.

While I am truly appreciative of your company and warm wishes, I am especially thankful for your support of Soroptimist International, the Dixon Library, the Girl Scouts and the Dixon Sober Grad Night -- groups that benefited from your patronage of the yearly fundraiser.

Spring fling

The Morgan Hill Historical Society sponsors its Spring Boutique this weekend, March 23-24, at Villa Mira Monte. I urge you to consider a visit to the entrancing Victorian farmhouse and its neatly manicured gardens, known to an ever-growing contingent of locals as the "Central Park of Morgan Hill."

The volunteers putting together the bash will have all sorts of handcrafted items for sale, plus distinctive jewelry set with poppy jasper -- a stone with yellow and red dots found only in Morgan Hill.

The fun happens at 17860 Monterey Road in Morgan Hill. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Admission is free. Call Ellie Weston at 408-779-8250 for details.

Proceeds assist the Morgan Hill Historical Society with its ongoing educational programs and the upkeep of its properties.

While you're in South Bay, make a point of checking out Murphy's Mercantile. The antiques boutique, run by sisters Honnie and Melissa Murphy, is crammed with all sorts of reasonably priced goodies. The emporium, at 17375 Monterey Road in the heart of Morgan Hill, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Details: 408-779-5400.

More shopping

Not long ago, I paid a visit to Benson's Antiques, one of the longest-lived businesses of its kind in California. The Saratoga shop recently moved to a different spot on Big Basin Way.

Patrons of this always jam-packed store will want to know that its legendary proprietress, Lillian Benson, is recovering nicely in a care facility while daughter Marsha is "holding the fort." Benson suffered a heart attack last year.

Benson's Antiques is at 14440 Big Basin Way, Saratoga. For store hours, call 408-741-0314.

Plan ahead

Veteran show promoter Jerry Goldman's Bay Area Vintage, Antiques and Collectibles Fair had its premiere this past Sunday.

Thousands of patrons and hundreds of dealers took part in the indoor show held at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Folks had the option of paying $10 to be an early buyer between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. General admission from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. cost $5. Next show date: April 21.

Details: 650-242-1294; www.bayareaantiquefair.com.

Benefit sale

The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale has its semiannual sale from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Funds raised help to keep the all-volunteer organization alive.

This dispersal includes old lace, craft books, vintage jewelry and more.

The Lace Museum is at 552 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale. Details: 408-730-4695; www.thelacemuseum.org.

Contact Steven Yvaska at steve.yvaska@sbcglobal.net or 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190.