Friday, February 27, 2009

Mail-order Nursery Report Card

With the exception of one order I placed just this last Thursday with Big Dipper Farm, all of my mail orders for plants have arrived and I thought it might be helpful to others if I shared the experience I've had with each of the various companies. Often times I am interested in purchasing from a new nursery but am hesitant, not knowing what to expect.

Here follows a report card of my findings:

Audubon Workshop - Grade A - Their prices are decent, the plants are very healthy, they are packed well, I've not had to use their customer service or their replacement/refund policy, they usually have a good coupon. I've used them in the past but have not had need of them this year. Their plants are pretty basic so the selection is not wide.

Bluestone Perennials - Grade A - Their prices are good, the plants are kind of small which is why it isn't an "A plus" but are healthy, they are packed well, their customer service is wonderful and their replacement/refund policy is great. They have good discounts and coupons. I like that most things are sold in threes. Shipping was about 13% of my total after discounts/coupons.

Breck's - Grade B - Their prices are decent and their coupon helps, their bulbs perform, they arrive in typical bags for bulbs/roots, I've not had opportunity to use their customer service or replacement/refund policy which is a good thing. Pretty run of the mill. Shipping was approximately 26% of my total after coupons.

Brushwood Nursery - Grade A plus - Their prices are competitive, their shipping is a flat fee which can be a plus, their plants are healthy and arrive in superb condition and are sizeable for their pot size, I've not had to use their customer service or replacement/refund policy. The way the plants were packed was terrific. My experience was outstanding!

Burpee - Grade D - Their prices tend to be high for both seeds and plants, two of the three plants arrived dead and all three were out of their pots with soil everywhere, they were packed poorly, I will be finding out how well their customer service and replacement/refund policy is :) Their seeds germinate reliably but I only order from them what I cannot get elsewhere because they are more expensive than all other seed vendors I use. Shipping was approximately 19% of my total.

Dutch Gardens - Grade B - Their prices are decent, their coupon helps, their bulbs perform, they arrive in typical bags for bulbs/roots, I've not had opportunity to use their customer service or replacement/refund policy which is a good thing. Pretty run of the mill. Shipping was approximately 16% of my total after coupons.

Garden Crossings - Grade A plus - Their prices are decent and are cheaper than some, you have a choice on many of the plants of the size you wish to purchase, their plants are very healthy healthy and arrive in superb condition and are sizeable for their pot size. When I contacted them about an item not shipped, they responded AFTER HOURS and told me they felt the plant did not have enough growth on it yet for them to feel comfortable sending it to me but will ship as soon as it does. I've not had to use their customer service or replacement/refund policy. My experience was fabulous! Shipping was approximately 12% of my total.

Henry Field's - Grade B - Their prices are decent, their coupon helps, their plants perform, they arrive in typical packaging, their customer service or replacement/refund policy is good. Pretty run of the mill. Shipping was approximately 16% of my total after coupons.

High Country Gardens - Grade A - (They'd be a plus if the shipping weren't so high) Their prices are great, their plants arrive healthy, they are packaged wonderfully, their customer service is great but I've not needed replacements or refunds, their focus on plants that are drought tolerant is terrific and they have plants that are not the "run of the mill". They are a very conscientious nursery. Shipping was approximately 25% of my total.

Johnny's Selected Seeds - Grade B plus - Their prices are good, their seeds germinate, I've not had occasion to need their customer service/refund policy. Shipping was approximately 20% of my total.

Park Seed - Grade A - Their prices are competitive, their seeds germinate, I've not had occasion to need their customer service/refund policy, I've not used them for their plants, just seeds. Shipping was approximately 18% of my total.

Santa Rosa Gardens - Grade A plus - I received a gift of plants from this nursery from a friend and they were in great condition, healthy, good size and packaged beautifully! I have heard from my friend who sent the gift that they are a terrific place to do business with!

Seymour Seed - Grade A - Their prices are competitive, their seeds germinate, I've not had occasion to need their customer service/refund policy, I've not used them for their plants, just seeds. Shipping was approximately 18% of my total.

Springhill - Grade B plus - Their prices are competitive, their plants arrive healthy, they are packaged wonderfully, I've not needed replacements or refunds and they have a nice coupon. Shipping was approximately 27% of my total.

Totally Tomato - Grade B plus - Their prices are competitive, their seeds germinate, I've not had occasion to need their customer service/refund policy, I've not used them for their plants, just seeds. I've read some pretty negative write-ups on them but ordered anyway and was not disappointed in the least! Shipping was approximately 19% of my total.

K. Van Bourgondien & Sons - Grade A - So far. They all arrive roots and bulbs in typical packaging. Their prices are very good, I've not had to use customer service or their replacement/refund policy, they have a good coupon. Shipping was approximately 16% of my total.

Wayside Gardens - Grade D - Why oh why do I keep ordering from them? No more as soon as I use the in-store credit up for the plants that arrived dead. They are expensive, their packaging is okay, their plants are teeny or sickly or dead, etc. I've only received one thing that was really healthy and had size, it was a liriope in a gallon pot. They have been good about replacing but it is with a plant that was as dubious as the first. They were good about a credit on this last shipment but it is a hassle. I've had many hassles with their orders. I will not order from them anymore. Nope, no, zero, nil, zilch, nada, that's it, uh uh.

White Flower Farm - Grade A - I have both purchased from them and received a gift of plants from someone who purchased them from this nursery. Their prices can be a bit high, their plant size is about what you would get from most places, they are packaged well (in fact, I received a plant that was quite delicate and it arrived in PERFECT condition!), the plants are very healthy, and I've not had to use their customer service or replacement/refund policy.

Pinetree Seeds - Grade A - Nice small company with attentive customer service. When I did not receive my order, they reshipped immediately! Great prices! Germination rate of seeds was very good.

Maybe this information will encourage you to be adventurous and try a new nursery or maybe it might give you a heads-up when ordering from others.

Regardless, I wish you many happy plantings!

1 comment:

jennahsgarden said...

This is very helpful! I'm ordering from Bluestone for the first time this year, on the basis of lots of good reviews.

Ordered from Springhill again this year too. In the past we have needed some replacements or refunds, but there was no trouble about it. This year I'm hoping we won't - we just got our order and it's the first week of March! There was a foot of snow on the ground when they were delivered. So hopefully they'll make it till warmer weather!