Laughing at Plant Catalogs

echinaceamaniac(7)August 13, 2011

Park Seeds: $16.95 for one Echinacea plant!

White Flower Farm: $27.95 for 3 Allium 'Globemaster!'

White Flower Farm: laughing out loud at their prices of everything!

Note to White Flower Farm... I'm laughing at you, not with you!

I just can't help it. They are out of their minds with those prices! They won't be getting my business!

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I'm not laughing because it means someone who's considering a new garden can't afford to plant anything in it. I live in Connecticut and have never done anything more than use the WFF catalog/website as a reference manual. Their clientele is considerably above my touch.

The cost of everything is steadily rising, including planting pots, potting mix, printed labels, catalog printing, shipping & handling, postage. Are their prices outrageous? For someone on a fixed or limited income, certainly, which is a shame.

I estimate the plants I've grown via winter sowing would retail for several thousand dollars at a nursery. I don't have several thousand discretionary dollars to spend. I DO love to garden and hope to improve the curb appeal of my little green acre as best I can with whatever resources are within my budget. At least I can still afford to trade for seeds.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 9:31AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

White Flower Farm HAS to charge double for their plants. They have been sending me a beautiful full color catalog for 20 years, and I have never made ANY contact with them. With their cost of doing business charging too much for their plants is a necessity. Al

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 9:49AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Unfortunately it's a sign of the times, I wanted to buy a few english bluebell bulbs and was a happy camper when I found them in 2 not 1 catalogs. I didn't mind paying the price they were asking for these bulbs but the cost of shipping and handling and then tax on BOTH the bulbs plus the S&H came to more than the price of the bulbs, I scrapped that one. I do have 3 or 4 I'm growing from seed but it's a slow go, I hope I see them flower before I croak.

I try to support at least one or two mail order sources each year as they have plants I want and can't find anywhere else. I realize they have their costs to cover but I think in the near future a lot of them will be going out of business, only the very rich will be able to throw money around like that and the rest of us will have to stick with buying local, grow from seed or even better, plant exchanges between gardeners.
Growing from seed is going to become the norm for a lot of us, the days of instant gratification in many areas is soon going to be a thing of the past. A big wakeup call for all of us me thinks.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:01AM
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Most nurseries would be glad to bring in bulbs by request. Ask, and you just might receive. And you won't pay the shipping costs, either.
English bluebells should be easy to find and are generally quite inexpensive.
Allium 'Globemaster' is an expensive bulb. But it's beautiful and worth the extra money. I grow both Allium giganteum and 'Globemaster' and the colours of Globemaster are much more vivid and the flowers last at least 2-4 weeks longer in the garden. Usually, I expect to pay about $10.00 each for Globemaster.
You can laugh as much as you want, but you don't have to support these nurseries if you find them too expensive. But perhaps you should reconsider sending for catalogues when you have no intention of buying.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:50AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I can remember when the notion existed if you were a serious gardener you ordered your plants from WFF or Wayside and that was that. No questions about the prices. You did it because they had the reputation for being the best. Period! Unfortunately for years I dutifully places my orders with these 2 companies each spring and fall. After all, they said they had the best plants and everyone told me they had the best plants, so who was I to question all these statements of excellence?

At some point I did start questioning those prices and the plants I was receiving and stopped ordering. I must admit it was hard to do mainly because of those gorgeous catalogs. As others have said, WFF does have one of the best catalogs out there. It must cost them a fortune to produce and mail and it probably still works at roping in the suckers.



    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 11:42AM
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It sounds to me like those notions were the result of peer pressure and great marketing.
But why is someone a sucker just because they order from WFF?
I'm not one of their customers, but I cannot deny the eye appeal of their catalogue. And though their plants might be expensive compared to other sources, why is someone a sucker for buying them? WFF provides information, and surely that's a valuable service for a new customer. I'm assuming that the plants live. And a live plant, even though expensive at point of purchase, is better than 10 very inexpensive plants which don't survive.
Gardeners mature and their tastes change. They become more knowledgeable about what they grow and more knowledgeable about plant sources.
I don't like to see any business criticized for trying to make money from selling plants. After all, that's their business, and it's not inherently dishonorable.
I have ordered from Park's Seed in the past. Again, there are better and less expensive sources, but at the beginning of my gardening career, Park's Seeds gave me hours and hours of fun while I learned about the plants in their catalogue, and wrestled down my trillion dollar order into a reasonable amount. I don't use them as a source anymore, but I don't regret having purchased seeds from them. Some of the plants are still flourishing in my gardens so many years later. And I learned a lot.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 1:38PM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

I agree with everyone's comments. I think catalog prices are too high and getting higher. Comments on WFF prices (note also the similar thread on Bluestone) show the frustration of many of us.

However, I have to admit that I have learned a lot and greatly enjoyed WFF's catalog & over the years I have found & purchased quite a few plants from Bluestone (often older varieties and colors) that I could not locate at nearby nurseries, which tend to provide mostly hot new intros. I would hate to see either of these catalogs go away.

I still have a patch of tulips bought as "perennial tulips" from a purchase in 1999 from WFF. They were the largest tulip bulbs I have ever purchased & have been truly perennial for me in a raised gravel bed, unlike most of the tulips I have planted.

I also still have a patch of monarda purchased many years ago from the catalog of the poorly rated Spring Hill. Spring Hill was the first garden catalog I ever received in the mail and I owe them for starting me on the gardening path. I purchased a small "starter garden" from them which introduced me to the world of plants & by golly most of them grew just fine! I was amazed. LOL.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 3:03PM
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"White Flower Farm HAS to charge double for their plants. They have been sending me a beautiful full color catalog for 20 years, and I have never made ANY contact with them. With their cost of doing business charging too much for their plants is a necessity."

Aha, it's Al's fault. :) Well, mine too. I once ordered an Xmas present for my father from WFF and they've been sending me catalogues regularly ever since then (maybe 10 years or so). It's kind of a rule of mail order - the fancier the catalog and more color photos, the more expensive the plants are going to be.

For a better deal, stick to places with simple catalogs and few or no photos. Or better yet, buy the vast majority of your plants at local nurseries, paying attention to specials and end-of-season deals. Reserve mail order for those few things you can't possibly find locally and for which seed raising isn't an option.

By the way, did I actually see a poster with the username echinaceamaniac griping about Echinacea prices? $16.95 seems about mid-range for the newer Echinacea hybrids, at least I spent almost that much for one that crapped out in my garden and failed to return after 1 season. This year the only Echinaceas I've added are "Pow Wow Wild Berry" from seed.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 5:19PM
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By the way, the worst travesty in the WFF catalog this year may be what they're asking for Gaillardias "Arizona Sunset" and "Arizona Red Shades" - 8 bucks a plant if I remember right.

Seeing as how I spent about $8 for seeds of both varieties and have raised 20 plants, I've saved an absolute fortune.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 5:23PM
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I think it's hilarious that seed varieties are so high. Gaillardias are so easily grown from seeds! I could see them being 4 to 5 dollars at most.

I noticed on Bluestone's catalog cover is 'Crazy Daisy'...yet another seed variety. I can't believe they chose that as the cover plant. They must have got a good deal on the seeds.

Those companies make a killing from those who never started a seed in kindergarten.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 5:59PM
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So: what's the solution to rising plant costs?

As gardeners, we just have to shop smart. When I finally got swept up
by the Internet wave around the time of the Millennium - sadly enough,
a bit late - I was stunned by all the new resources available to gardeners,
and not just online catalogs/nurseries, but all the hands-on information available from places like our own GW forums and the Dave's Garden
Watchdog. Good grief, you could simply Google the name of a plant and
instantly have a list of possible sources. . .pretty amazing to an old-timer !

Then, I started cross-checking prices and found some really HUGE
differences,. . .but, of course, you had to factor in all the variables: pot size,
multiple discounts, shipping charges, and the company's track record.
It was just a whole new way of trolling nurseries ! Now, the original
poster pointed out White Flower Farm's steep price on Allium Globemaster,
3 for$27.95, and I tend to agree - although as another poster pointed out,
it IS one of the most expensive of all the alliums - but guess what? Less
than five miles down the road from WFF (Litchfield, CT) is the little hamlet
of Bantam, CT, home of John Scheepers, Inc. (a bulb specialist), and they
list A. Globemaster at 3 for $20.25. Bingo! I Just saved somebody nearly
$8 on an order - plus, shipping on those three bulbs would be $13.95 at
WFF, but only $6.95 at Scheepers. For what it's worth, John Scheepers has
been my primary source for bulbs for over 25 years, and I have never been
disappointed - plus they have two end-of-season sales where you can
REALLY clean up !

Since everyone seems to want to dump on White Flower Farm, allow me to
offer a slightly different perspective. When I first "discovered" WWF back
in the early 1970's (Yikes!), a friend loaned me the catalog; I was living in
New York City at the time, and devouring that catalog, I quickly realized why
many people considered WFF to be the serious gardeners' Holy Grail ! What
a plant collection! What gorgeous photographs! What stimulating and
exhaustive information! What an inspired masterpiece of merchandising. . .

You see, WFF was the pioneer; they pretty much set the standard that all
the other nurseries aspired to, some very successfully, others not so much.
So, I see what they do today as merely a continuum of what they have ALWAYS
done. . .they are consummate salesmen, but they are also selling a very fine
product. Interestingly enough, there is a wonderful book called "The White
Flower Farm Garden Book" by Amos Pettingill, which includes a history of
the farm (circa 1930's) and an alphabetical list of individual plants and garden techniques; it's a rare book so I doubt you'll find your own copy,
but libraries can usually get their hands on it through Inter-Library loans.
For anyone who has ever drooled over a WFF catalog, I highly recommend
this book.

Over the years, I've come to terms with my love/hate relationship with
White Flower Farm - usually once a year, when I'm on a foray to Connecticut
for other reasons, I pay a visit to WFF, basically just to look and enjoy, rarely
to buy. For a gardener at any level, it is absolutely a destination, sort of
like going on one of those Garden Conservancy Open Days, except it's free.
Bring a picnic - there are accommodations - and spend several hours just
meandering about the gardens and displays; if you like Begonias, aim for
mid-July when the greenhouse full of their prized Blackmore & Langdon
begonias are in full lower - you have NEVER seen anything like it!

Finally, aside from aggressive comparison shopping on-line, here are some
ways I save money on plants:

- Late and end-of-season sales (Just yesterday, I snagged a $100. worth of
perfectly good plants, for half-price !);

- There are several local churches who are more than happy to have me
"get rid of" all those daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and lilies they use so
copiously at Easter;

- Do everything in your power to wangle your way into wholesale
nurseries (through a landscaper/designer friend, through a non-profit
garden club or other group buying plants "for their organization"
(simply a non-profit Resale Number can get you in), or try my "non-
patented" method: I joined a local garden club several towns over,
because I found out that once a year, club members had a one-day
entree to a HUGE wholesale supplier! Imagine your most extravagant
wish list EVER, and you got it all for half-price or less. . .for example this
past Spring, my haul included two 3-GALLON Thalictrum for a mere
$9.00 each. . .saw them retail for $24.95 !

- Keep your eye on the curb! I never cease to be amazed at what other
folks toss out. . .my personal favorites for collection? Amaryllis bulbs
that people seem to assume are dead once they stop flowering - they
make great re-cycled gifts the following holiday season, and who's to
know your clever source;

- Approach folks whose homes are for sale, especially if you've previously
spotted something of interest; you'd be surprised what sellers will be
willing to give sad little gardeners at their door - be sure to wear your
garden clothes and gloves, so they take you seriously and don't think
you're just ripping them off;

- Attend as many plant sales, and particularly plant swaps as you can;
there are dozens of them every year on lots of the GW Forums. . .
GARDENWEED: Check out the bi-annual plant swaps listed on the
New England Gardening forum. . .we hold them in late May and late
September, in Monroe, CT


    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Carl- your post was really timely for me. I was trying to place an allium order tonight. The sources I've used in the past were each out of one or more of the varieties I wanted. Read your post, looked at scheepers, and have an order for all that I need. Prices were as good or better than where I was looking. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:11PM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

You can also take a look at Van Engelen, same company but offer higher quantities of the same bulbs at lower prices.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:25PM
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Carl - thanks for the tip! I live just 2 miles from Grower Direct Farms and, as a member of my local beautification committee, am able to buy plants from them at a discount each year in May. Between winter sowing, Santa Rosa Gardens' annual $2.99 sale and GDF, my flowerbeds are so stuffed, I'm beginning to rip things out that don't perform as I would like and planting others in their spaces. My biggest problem is impulse buying when the price is right and the plant is on my wish list. I need a t-shirt that says, "If I'm carrying a potted plant, kick me!"

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:04AM
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it seems to be a common mistake with fairly new gardeners to decide that because they have mastered a technique (seeding, grafting, etc.), that technique is without commercial value and any business that charges for the service is cheating.
Sure, echinaceamaniac, you can start seeds. That's lots of fun for you as a gardener and provides lots of opportunity to add new plants to your garden.
But it does not translate into running a nursery, or understanding anything about running a nursery.
Bottom line is that if a nursery cannot make money from selling its product- whether raised from seed, started as a plug or a root, then the nursery cannot offer the product.
Comparing your ability to add a plant or twenty six plants to your garden with the ability to start plants, sell them and make a living is definitely comparing apples and oranges.
You are a gardener and that is a wonderful calling. But you are not a nurseryman. And to me, that is a noble calling.
I doubt very many nurseries, including the big ones like WFF are making a "killing."
Killings are made perhaps in the stock market, but not in the plant business which is, like farming, dependent on the weather, the season, the cost of energy and the fickleness of the marketplace. After all, nurserymen deal with live goods. Nurseries are also closing at an alarming rate, which indicates the profit level is not anywhere near the "killing" that some fantasize about.
I am as unfamiliar with John Scheepers as I am with WFF. But there could well be a difference in the size or grade of the bulb.
Maybe the bottom line is that gardeners need to educate themselves.
But I just cannot see running down someone else's business as part of that process.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 9:50AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Well said, Ninamarie.

Also keep in mind that not everyone places the same importance on various factors. For some, getting things on the cheap is important - may be because of inherent frugrality or tight fianances or other reasons - while for others convenience may be a factor, or instant gratification.

As an example, while I love starting seeds, I limit that to certain annuals and my vegetables, because I know within a month of planting out I'll be enjoying lush plants (well, usually...). Perennials? Fugetaboutit... If I want a perennial or a shrub, I want a good-sized one that will fill its intended space and I can enjoy NOW - I don't want to wait. (excluding end of season sales and freebies from friends, of course...). So I get in the car, drive to the nursery, and plunk down the money for a good-sized plant. Some may think that's wasteful, even laughable, and I don't give a cr*p - it makes me happy.

How about those who don't have the time and/or space to start seeds or to frequent swaps, troll nurseries, etc. or that just don't want to be bothered? Mail ordering from a quality source may make sense - that doesn't mean they are getting ripped off, it just means those factors may play into their decision to order from a particular catalog.

To each his own...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 4:13PM
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No need to be offended. It is just that White Flower Farms' plants are not better than the other sources yet seem to cost double. That is a fact. I've ordered from them and was not impressed what you get for the price. They ship tiny little things!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 4:49PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I'm pretty much of the same mind as mxk3, I will continue to buy from mail order sources if they are the only place I can get that special plant, but the S&H and Tax make me think twice and look for a local source first. I'm also a big believer in supporting my local nurseries and garden centers but not the big box stores. I enjoy shopping in amongst all the eye candy all perfectly grown and properly looked after. I also like the fact that I can pick the plant in the flat I like the most.
I'm probably a lot older than a lot of you guys and remember when there weren't any nurseries of garden centers in our area just one or two florists who only carried a few annuals come gardening season.

I will continue to support the local nurseries and garden centers and hope to heck they can weather the storm and.... bite the bullet if necessary, order from a catalog if I want something bad enough. Time marches on for this golden oldie, I think my seed growing days are over for most things, that's just the way the cookie crumbles LOL.

I worked in the nursery trade back in the 70's and it's not an easy go. Long hours, not much profit, but we loved what we did so it make it worthwhile.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 5:01PM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

I like to winter sow plants. You can get so many plants for minimal effort and money and they do grow quite quickly (depending on the type) and are very healthy. But, there are plants that you just can't grow from seed or don't come true, so I purchase grown plants from local nurseries if they have what I want and mail order for everything I can't find locally. I do shop around a lot online before making a purchase to find the best deal on the best plants (sometimes that just doesn't coincide, so I go for best plants over best deals, because a deal isn't a deal if the plant kicks it), and check around with others experiences on nurseries I've never heard of but would like to try. It's a lot of research which I don't mind.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:56PM
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I'm winter sowing this year too. I can't wait. I'm having friends over and we're sharing seeds to plant.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:03PM
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terrene(5b MA)

A lot of good points and info here. It is interesting to hear about some of the history. I've never ordered from WFF and probably never will, but the previous owner of this house used to and the catalogs came for awhile, but must confess I've never looked at them and now I'm curious to take a closer look at these works of art! ;) There are WFF peonies, daylilies, and bulbs growing in the gardens courtesy of the previous owner. She liked to buy the assortments. For the most part, they are common cultivars, but some are nice.

It would be costly to buy all the plants I start from seed, and I love it - fiddling with germination requirements and methods, observing them sprout, grow and change. The flowering is exciting, but there's a lot going on before they get there which can be fascinating. And then they go to seed, and you can collect seed, or do your own breeding.

I do like a lot of the fancy cultivars and nothing beats the nursery for instant gratification. This year I purchased some seed that was more expensive than usual, of cultivars like Echinacea Pow Wow, Digitalis Camelot, and Aquilegia Origami series. I am very curious what the results of these seeds will be - will they seed true to color, will the seedlings look consistent, etc.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 1:38AM
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brody(z7 WA)

Prices are up there for most mail order nurseries. Thank goodness for end of the season sales, seed exchanges, and plant swapmeets.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 6:20AM
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Speaking of high prices for seed-raised plants, WFF charges a bundle for annuals every spring. Maybe there are people who don't mind paying $6-7 for a zinnia, but it seems a little pricey to me, especially when you can buy a six-pack for much less at your local garden center.

I think there's a mythology about buying plants via mail order, especially applicable to well-known operations like WFF. The reality is that you'll often fare a lot better (both in relation to price and quality) at a good garden center, even if it means a bit of a drive.

"...I quickly realized why many people considered WFF to be the serious gardeners' Holy Grail ! What a plant collection! What gorgeous photographs!"

The glossy catalogue and "gorgeous photographs" are a reason why customers pay so much.

By the way, negative and neutral ratings of WFF far outnumber the positive ones on a certain popular mail-order nursery ratings website.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 9:51AM
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"...negative and neutral ratings of WFF far outnumber the positive ones on a certain popular mail-order nursery ratings website."

When I first stumbled across the website referenced in the sentence above, I immediately looked up WFF seeing as it's here in CT and they produce such a fabulous catalogue every year. Imagine my stunned surprise to see they had over 50% negative ratings from customers. It was then I noticed Bluestone Perennials in the Top 30 list and became a satisfied, if novice, customer right up until I discovered winter sowing. Haven't placed an order with them since 2009 and am seriously rethinking the few items they offer that were still on my wants list. Thanks to WS & seed trading, I have stuffed my beds to the max and except for shovel pruning things I eventually decide I don't really like, have no desperate need to purchase much of anything.

A little OT but here's a couple WS pictures for echinaceamaniac...this is my pot ghetto:

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 11:11AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

OK, this is a bit off topic, but maybe still relevant. On the opposite side of the debate - pricey places - there are the cheap places.

I can remember my last plant order from Jungs. This is a place my grandma swore by back in the day. I don't know why I did it, but I ordered a few varieties of garden phlox from a spring catalog, probably because the prices were sooooooo cheap.

When they arrived - in little plastic bags - I found a few tiny, tiny wisps of roots attached to a piece of dormant stem no thicker than a piece of straw. I didn't think it was possible to divide a plant into such small pieces, but somehow they did it. At that rate of division, a single, average phlox plant would probably we worth hundreds and hundreds of $$. Needless to say, those little things didn't have a chance of survival.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 12:20PM
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What annoys me is how all the catalogs and websites have touched up pics to enhance color and contrast. The only site I have seen with realistic pics is ForestFarm.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 2:50PM
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I have been taking many pictures lately. Some colours are just impossible to reproduce correctly. Especially in blue-violet range. I have some intense pink phloxes, which look pastel pink on all the pictures. Violet platycodon is always being shown as blue. Chartreuse is usually reduced to yellow.Even if the pictures look relatively true on my comptuter, after I upload them on photobucket, they will show differently. Go figure!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 6:33PM
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Wow. Nice winter sowing pics. Winter sowing is definitely the most economical, yet easy skill to learn. If you haven't done it, look it up!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 7:32PM
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I'm laughing, but crying a little too. I live in Connecticut too, and I like to visit WWF every year to ooh and ahh. It is a lovely garden. A number of years ago, they published a quarterly magazine too that was beautifully designed (of course) and very enjoyable. But they ceased publication, citing prohibitive costs to do it. So they too have their limits! I got a subscription as a present. Like Gardenweed, I have never been able to cough up the money they want for what they've got. And just as an aside, when I moved to my house and started working on and reclaiming the beds from years of benign neglect, I saw various WWF plant markers from the PO -- I was excited: a polemonium, a delphinium, several clematises, among others I can't remember. My hopes were dashed however, only ONE ever showed. It is a gorgeous Josephine clematis, among all the other Bluestone commoners I havae put in. I am sad my go-to place has had to by and large price me out. Like another poster above, I will only buy there very selectively. But I like buying from catalogs -- I like to plan (and dream) and I hate driving around and not finding what I'm looking for. Looks like I'll be doing much more winter sowing. Gardenweed -- I am totally impressed. And I urge you to come to the CT swaps. Nice people, nice plants, just as Carl said. But I'll email you about winter sowing in our micro climate.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 12:50PM
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gardenweed, you know what I can't believe about those pictures? YOUR NEAT HANDWRITING!! Good grief! It's like you professionally printed the plant name not just on the jug, but on the labels as well. Wow! Your plant ghetto looks better than my living room. And then, to top it all off, your jugs are so neatly arranged. Now THAT'S impressive!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:11AM
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I'll also say about those plant catalogs that I've never ordered. First, I've only been gardening a couple of years. Second, I have two local nurseries that have great prices. One sells perennials in 6-packs, so I get 6 plants for under $3, and they have some great plants, but no brand new fancy plants. Basically no plants where the seeds are extremely expensive. But still some great plants. Then the "normal" nursery near me does a great job and sells their 1-gallon plants for $6-$7. I was so shocked to see $12 and $10 plants at nurseries in some other areas. I know that if I wanted a special plant they would try to get it for me. So, with those prices I haven't found the need yet to order from any catalog.

Add to that our great plant swap where I have gotten so many wonderful things and WS, and I'm gardening for almost nothing!

I ordered seeds and now suddenly I'm inundated with ten catalogs from plant companies. What a waste! How long before they stop sending them? I actually called several apparel companies last winter to ask them to stop sending me catalogs. By the time you go through their phone menu and talk to a real person who takes your address, etc., it just takes too long to call. I don't feel like spending so long on the phone to call the plant catalogs, too, and then there's the furniture and knick-knack catalogs. It's just never-ending.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 9:24AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

gardenweed you are amazing!!!

I give all the catalog vendors credit for trying to make a living. That is what they are suppose to do. We as the consumer have to make the decision if we are willing to pay the price. I am one of those that is not willing to pay the price. I will not give WFF or any other Vendor a arm and leg and my first born for a plant.

There is not a plant out there that I will pay any price to have. There is always a "Look enough like" plant that I can substitute with for a reasonable price.

I get all the plant catalogs and enjoy them for comparison/planning of what I want to buy or winter sow. If it is a plant that I cannot buy locally I will order but after careful comparison shopping on the net. I also have a price limit.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 6:01PM
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Wow...I didn't realize my printing was that neat!! I get a lot of those comments over on the WS forum but it's just the way I've always printed, whether using a pencil, pen or marker. Thanks heaps echman, deanna & marquest!! After I got an "F" in 5th grade penmanship, I must have sub-consciously become more careful & precise whenever I picked up something to write with.

When I first moved here, the neighbors all laughed at my plant labels. When spring rolled around, they weren't laughing...they were asking me to come tell them what plants were in their flowerbeds. Once I started winter sowing, they brought me seeds to grow for them. So far I've grown apple & pear trees for one neighbor and blackberry lily for another. Cracks me up to get home from work and find an envelope or ziplock baggie of seeds stuffed inside the door with a note that reads, "Please grow these for me."

Winter sowing & seed trading has opened up a whole new world of perennial plant opportunities for me, at a price that's affordable for experimenting to see how the plants & I like each other. Not everyone has the space or opportunity to WS hundreds of milk jugs so the colorful, glossy catalogs of lush plants (photoshopped or not) will still rake in lots of inexperienced new gardeners. Thanks to the GardenWeb forums, we may collectively save some of them from repeating a few of our own mi$take$.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Okay, I am now officially going to meander over to the WS forum and find out what I can winter sow. That's incredible!
I used to love WFF, but had a few disappointments over very hard-earned and budgeted money spent on spindly plants or a forgotten order. Not holding a grudge, but just trying to find larger sizes for the same money amount, if possible.
Sometimes I really do cringe at mail order prices, but if it's something really unique, I'll just do it and my mantra over the shipping is " I've spent $15 on a stupider thing" lol

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 11:32PM
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cracking - your garden will thank you for "meandering over to the WS forum and find out what I can winter sow" since the possibilities are as endless as the seeds in your garden. I've grown trees (apple, pear, dogwood), shrubs (St. John's wort, spirea) and some interesting perennials (Siberian iris, Japanese iris, ornamental grasses, false indigo, lavender) via WS so far. Plant catalogs will just give you some new ideas for things to WS!!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:21AM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

Be careful, though, or you'll end up like me with too many plants and not enough space for them all...and still you want more though you know there is no space for them. lol! I guess I'll have to either expand a bed or two, make a new one, or rearrange some plants (which I need to do anyway, some of my daylilies need more sun and some of the hostas need more shade, they're getting switched). Some of my plants I need to give away, but nobody wants them! :( Maybe I'll just grow them along our fence, since the grass and weeds never get trimmed anyway. Might as well grow flowers.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 7:23AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

While I completely understand people's flabbergastedness (how's that for a word? LOL) at plant prices, I have to agree with Ninamarie and several others -- many of you are greatly deluded as to how much of a profit these nurseries make. I know several people in the business and they are not rolling in the dough. Of course it is even more difficult for the small locally owned nurseries, but one only has to take note of the number that are disappearing to realize that they can't be making that much profit.

And as to the question of why not just start your plants from seed? Well that's fine if you have the space to do so and don't mind the clutter of having pots all over the place. But some people don't have the space and/or don't want to deal with the extra clutter. Then there are people like my parents. I typically do the gardening and plant shopping for them when I go visit them upstate (they live about 4 hours away). I am rather thrifty by nature and try to save them money plantwise where I can. I remember quite well one time 2 or 3 years ago mentioning that I could pick up some large pots of a plant but it would be far cheaper if they would prefer I pick up some small starter pots instead. My mom looked at me and said get them bigger plants -- I want to be able to see a nice full plant before I die. Considering that my parents are in their 70's, she had a very valid point.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 10:31PM
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terrene(5b MA)

One thing about growing from seed - the seedlings generally express the natural genetic variation that occurs in seeds. Some are taller, some shorter, some bloom earlier, some later. Some are weaker specimens, some stronger. Even the annuals I grow from seed end up with some variability. Nursery cultivars are selected for outstanding or superior traits, like variegation or profuse blooms, and they will usually have a more uniform appearance because they are clones (some variability can occur because of cultural differences).

In the back gardens I like a more naturalized look, but in the front garden which is semi-formal, I prefer a more uniform look with plants that are showier, which usually mean nursery cultivars.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 4:45AM
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The only significant seedling variability I typically see is when raising seed from hybrids. Often, even named varieties are stable from seed (reflecting the probability that whoever introduced the cultivar merely slapped an attractive-sounding name on a particular species).

So I wouldn't let fears about unmatched plants inhibit raising perennials and annuals from seed.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 9:14AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

The run of the mill bedding plants I can buy for $1.99 a sixpac, when ever I want them, so I don't waste my time growing them from seed. When I bring home a flat of sixpacs, I will immediately pot them into four inch nursery pots for about six weeks before planting them in the garden. It is very rare for me to lose a plant this way. For most other plants I will order the seed and start them myself. If I order a live plant it is only because I can't get it any other way, so I don't complain about the price. Al

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 9:24AM
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