Do you buy plants by mail order? It was something that I used to be loathed to do. I liked the pleasure of visiting the nursery and getting the feel of the place where my plants had grown up. But then I realised that I could often get a much better choice of plants from specialist nurseries which were further away, provided I knew what I wanted.
Some mail order catalogues rely on the chocolate box syndrome – that your eyes are much bigger than your garden. This is especially true of the ones which concentrate on annuals and drop through the door in the middle of winter. They concentrate on your depression in the middle of winter and make you dream of the warm summer days pictured. I have had at least one order just not arrive, the time between ordering and receipt is so long that I forgot that I had ordered until it was too late to chase them – I just had to chalk it up to experience and vow never to use that company again.
Better by far is to order from specialist nurseries. In time, you get your own favourites. Sometimes you can get to know a nursery and the people behind it at a RHS show or a farmers market, maybe you have read an article about the nursery, you may have spoken to the owner on the phone or alternatively someone may have recommended one of their own favourites. We all have our own ways of finding those little gems of nurseries that exist out there. Many suppliers now have their own websites as they have realised that they are a great way to get in touch with gardeners all over the country. Some of the websites leave a little to be desired. The owners are planstmen rather than IT professionals after all, but some get it really right.
The key thing is that the specialists really package their plants well and can provide exceptional value for money. I have recieved plants from all over the country and have some lovely gems to show for it.
My latest purchase was for cyclamen. I ordered on Sunday and the plants arrived on Wednesday – fast work in anyones book. They were beautiful plants and great value for money – 14 plants for less than £40. The packaging was amazing. It was obvious that someone really cared about their plants. Now all I have to do is get them in the ground :).