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Rock and Alpine Gardening: Nurseries

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Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

March 31, 2005
7:49 AM

Post #1374261

Thanks so much, Todd, for recommending Beaver Creek. Roger Barlow sent my plants out on Monday and I received them Wednesday morning. They arrived in perfect condition. They are easily twice the size of any other alpines I've received in the mail this year. The Cyclamen africanum are big plants (I bought two). They must be three or four years old. I would have had to pay the same $5 for a tiny unpotted corm with no foliage at all here in Sebastopol.

He included three bonus plants in the box: one of the Lewisia (stebbinsii) I hadn't ordered (I ordered six from him) and two plants I had never heard of--Junellia wilzeckii and Carduncellus pinnatus. When I "Google-imaged" them, I was delighted. They were definitely plants I would have ordered if I had known about them. They were quite similar to other things I had ordered from him. It was such a nice personalized gesture. He also included $7 in cash because he couldn't find one of the $6 plants I had ordered (the Incarvillea zhongdianensis, boo hoo). The refund was highly appreciated but really not necessary in view of all the bonuses he sent.

Here's a funny thing. When I googled the Lewisia stebbinsii, which is native to the western United States and Mexico, the only image on the Web was on a Russian site. It had pictures of every conceivable type of Lewisia and detailed information, which I read with great pleasure because Russian is my native language.
sjms
Keene, NH
(Zone 5a)

April 1, 2005
12:08 PM

Post #1376786

well, that's an encouraging message.I've been following up on Todd's advice too, but I am only 1/3 through the list of the beaver creek plants at this point, because it's such a learning process for me. Right now I have way too many wanna-haves!!! I'm going to have to cull...that's for sure...Todd- can I insert another question in here?? are those zone#'s accurate? they are so much more optimistic than the siskiyou rare plant nursery zone#'s...
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2005
1:16 PM

Post #1376896

I would urge you, SJMS, to go for broke on these plants. They definitely are worth the money. I'll be receiving a package from Alpines Mont Echo very soon and will let you know my opinion of those plants too. The prices are comparable, so now I just have to do quality comparisons. It would be tough for anyone to beat Beaver Creek's packing expertise. Not a single leaf crushed, not a grain of planting mix spilled. An ingenious system of cardboard tubes and rubber bands to hold everything securely in place.

sjms
Keene, NH
(Zone 5a)

April 1, 2005
1:56 PM

Post #1376964

uh-oh...*&%$!$!...actually, the individual plants are very reasonable, and its nice to know that they are healthy and well grown. Sometimes I need to remind myself not to go overboard...I get myself into touble come planting time.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



April 1, 2005
4:07 PM

Post #1377298

I was talking to Roger Barlow of Beaver Creek today. All the plants I wanted, he has and they will be sent on April 18 (it was suppose to be next week but we are still covered in snow here!). I think Roger may be a little optimistic on his zoning. I'd knock at least one zone off to be sure about a plant. His plants are wonderful for sure, despite his zone ratings. In zone 5 I'd stick (and do myself) to those listed for zone 4 to be safe. My order from Mont Echo won't be sent until earll May. Zuzu, when yours arrive from Mont Echo, the change in temp will be shocking to the plants so make sure you keep them as cool as possible until they acclimatize.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2005
8:06 PM

Post #1377701

Thanks for the heads up, Todd. I'll be sure to keep them cool. It is warming up here now that the rains have stopped. It's 72 today. No rain, no wind. It's time to launch an assault on the weeds, which have already managed to grow about a foot high. Things take off here like crazy in spring.
jamie68
Vancouver, WA
(Zone 8b)

April 2, 2005
3:23 PM

Post #1379251

Hi guys,
I have orders coming from Mont Echo, Siskiyou, and Beaver Creek...but have any of you ordered anything from Wrightman Alpine Nursery?? Found at:
http://www.wrightmanalpines.com

I have an order in there as well...though not as large - just the minimum. If anyone has used them let me know. And yes - I have checked Garden Watchdog...:) Just wanted to see if anyone had personal experience or knowledge - Thank-you ~ Jamie
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2005
3:00 AM

Post #1380218

Wow, Jamie, what a find. It seems to me I went to that Website once and they had almost nothing at all. Either they added a million things recently or I got my signals crossed. Did you see how many pages of Primula they have? And about 10 kinds of Soldanella! I'll place an order too. I've got to get that Androsace primuloides and the Phyteuma villarsii (among other things, of course). They also have a couple of the plants from my pink pages 74 and 75. Actually, the Armeria juniperifolia looks even better in white than in pink. Too bad they don't have a Hormium pyranaica. The search goes on. Someone will have it someday. What are you ordering from them?
jamie68
Vancouver, WA
(Zone 8b)

April 3, 2005
8:32 AM

Post #1380588

Zuzu,
I know you are not going to believe this, but I have Hormium pyrenaicum on order as well! I ordered from a nursery that didn't seem to be one anybody on this forum had tried, in another post I mentioned it...what a small world! I will post more tomorrow...we may just get you most of your pages 74-75 plants yet...:)
More soon!
jamie
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2005
8:54 AM

Post #1380597

Jamie, the reason I misspelled it is that Google images won't show you the picture unless you call it hormium pyranaica. I love that plant. It really looks like something I should have.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



April 3, 2005
11:31 AM

Post #1380648

I have ordered from Wrightmans in the past. They are very similar to Alpines Mont Echo and there is much overlap between the two. Their plants were quite good as well but I personally know Maria Galetti of Mont Echo, so I order from her instead. It's amazing that the best alpine nurseries are in Canada, with the exception of Siskiyou.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2005
9:05 PM

Post #1381376

Todd, have you ever ordered from Mt. Tahoma? I like it as much as Siskiyou, if not more. More personalized service and slightly better packing. Some of the Siskiyou plants that require scree had more soil around their roots than I wanted and I had to plant them immediately in more scree-like conditions to compensate. Mt. Tahoma shipped the plants in a better potting mixture so that I didn't feel rushed. I did love all of the sphagnum moss in the Siskiyou packages, however, and put it to good use in my bog garden.

I do agree about the Canadian nurseries. They are definitely the best as far as selection, shipping terms and rates, and some other things are concerned. Judging by my shipment from Beaver Creek, the plants are also larger and healthier. I haven't received the Mt. Echo plants yet so I can't really generalize much about the Canadians yet.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



April 3, 2005
11:21 PM

Post #1381616

Mont Echo might not have as large a plants as Beaver Creek...they are the best by far. I don't order from the US as import permits, phytosanitary and exchange rates make it WAY too expensive. There are enough in Canada to keep me satisfied.

I was fortunate last fall while in Calgary. A local nursery there sells plants from Beaver Creek...they add a $1 mark-up which is fine when you have the opportunity to select your own plant. However, I was there in early October and all their plants (Beaver Creek included) were going for $2 each! I picked up 6 little gems which I overwintered in my cold frame. All survived and are now starting to green up. Beaver Creek is sending us some free plants to use as silent auction plants in our summer rock garden conference. They really are a great company.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 3, 2005
11:43 PM

Post #1381646

Wow, $2 gems. What a steal!

Everything you say about Beaver Creek reinforces the impression I got from Roger Barlow's telephone call and e-mails and from the nursery's customer service in general. It's a wonderful place and Roger Barlow is a fine human being.

Have you ever grown Loiseleuria? There's a picture of it in Buczacki's book that's very appealing.

Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



April 4, 2005
2:12 AM

Post #1381910

It's a stinker...they are native here and I do have one that is surviving, if not thriving. They resent warm temps...it is successful in Scotland but they have cool summers. I don't think you'd have a prayer in California...one day at 80 F would be enough to cause it to melt away. I have a picture of one pending for the PF.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 4, 2005
3:44 AM

Post #1382098

Too bad. It is a beauty. I'll just look forward to seeing your picture then.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 12, 2005
8:57 PM

Post #1399029

Jamie (and everyone else), do not, under any circumstances, buy anything from Hirt's Greenhouse & Flowers. I'll explain in detail later. Got to go walk a dog (Rhodesian Ridgeback). Love your dog, by the way. We have had many huskies in our family. My sister's was literally her best friend and wasted away shortly after she died. They are the most loyal doggies imaginable.
jamie68
Vancouver, WA
(Zone 8b)

April 13, 2005
2:23 AM

Post #1399669

Zuzu,
I can't wait to hear about the nursery...had some stuff in mind to order from them...

Yes, Alaskan Malamutes are about the most loyal, love their people dogs I have owned...I have been living with, showing and generally being owned by dogs all my life, and Malamutes are the breed I keep coming back to...

Let us know about the nursery...
Jamie
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 13, 2005
3:48 AM

Post #1399849

Okay, Jamie--

First things first: I am owned by cats, so I haven't had any dogs for about 10 years, but I walk four of the neighborhood dogs at noon because their owners work all day and the doggies get bored and lonely. I spend most of that time with a lovely Ridgeback named Stella and I always joke that she's my dog for an hour a day. The ideal pet: I get to play with her and walk her, but I don't have to buy her food or pay her vet bills.

Now for the nursery news. Stay away from Hirt's.

Hirt's says they process all orders in one day. I placed my order on March 10th and got it today, April 12. That was some day! I wonder how long it would have taken if I hadn't sent two e-mails to ask what happened to my order. Four of the 13 things I had ordered (including the Erinus and Saponaria) were not sent. Just a line drawn through the names on the packing sheet, with no further explanation. Presumably unavailable, but they're still offering them for sale on the Website. I checked today.

The Mosquito Fern I ordered for my pond is a little plastic bag of ordinary duckweed, which they also sell, but this was labeled Mosquito Fern. The Saxifraga oppositifolia, accompanied on the Website by a lovely picture of a real oppositifolia, is a Saxifraga arendsii, which I could have bought at any of the local nurseries or even at the Safeway here. I have no need to send away for an arendsii. I have a bunch of them in the garden already. Besides, the ones they sent me are in awful condition. The Safeway would have thrown them in the dumpster a week ago.

The dahlias and begonias have been putting out new growth for weeks in their stapled brown paper bags. The new growth, about six or seven inches of it, is understandably dead or dying.

The perennials (anchusa, arenaria, and bergenia) are tiny, withered plants with yellow leaves). They aren't worth anything. If you saw them for a quarter at a flea market, you wouldn't buy them.

Their policy is that a dissatisfied customer has to return the plants within 15 days. They want you to repack the plants in the box, seal the box, readdress it, and then pay for the return postage, tracking, and insurance. What nerve! Demanding that the dissatisfied customer insure a box of worthless plants.

Needless to say, I'm not going to return them. There's a reason I shop by mail. I don't drive and I'm certainly not going to lug a box two miles up the highway to the post office. I sent them an e-mail to express my dissatisfaction with every aspect of this transaction, but they didn't answer yet and probably never will. I'll wait a couple of days for a response and then post my opinion on Watchdog.

Incidentally, I placed an order with Wrightman yesterday. I decided not to wait, because every time I went to the Website, another type of Soldanella was sold out. I decided I'd better jump for the plants I wanted while they were still there. It's really a nice selection, and the prices are good, except for the sax prices. Believe it or not, I didn't order a single saxifraga from them. All the ones I wanted were $12, and I've yet to see whether I can keep anything beyond the more common types alive through my hot summer and wet winter. I did order that wonderful Sempervivum octopodes, though, along with some primulas (surprise!), gentianas, silenes, veronicas, etc., etc. That wonderful Phyteuma villarsii was not sold out, so I'm getting it too. Arrowhead has a picture of the flower on its blue gallery page. I've wanted the plant ever since I saw that picture.

Jose (my handyman) built me three more containers. Now I have seven. I might use one or two for bulbs, to keep them safe from the gophers.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



April 13, 2005
12:58 PM

Post #1400292

I had a similar experience ZUZU. Several years ago I ordered from a nursery in Ontario called Brickman's Botanical Garden...one would think they would have their plants labelled correctly however...I ordered Sanguisorba obtusa, the Japanese Burnet...they send Sanguisorba officinalis, Garden Burnet...same genus but completely different looking plants. I ordered Saxifraga hostii...an encrusted type...I got Saxifraga X arendsii. Most of the plants that were correct were dried up or rotten. They too, had a similar return policy as Hirt's. Needless to say, I never ordered from them again...in fact, I think they went under after.

I just had an order from Fraser Timble farms in BC. I've ordered from them many years now and this was the first time I had poor plants. Most were excellent but I ordered two Japanese maples, 2 gallons at $29. They arrived as mostly sucker growth and once that was cut out, the grafted portion was simply a 6-9" single stem...rather pathetic. I emailed and complained..they are crediting me for one plant, so I got two small ones for the price of one...I was happy enough with that since they will eventually grow. What a difference between companies.

Over the years, I narrowed down what companies I order from...so I'm down to Alpines Mont Echo, Beaver Creek, Fraser Thimble Farms and the Perennial Gardens. Wrightmans were OK but they offer much the same as Mont Echo but are more pricy, so I stick with Mont Echo.

My Beaver Creek order will be sent this coming Monday...can't wait!
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 14, 2005
5:32 AM

Post #1402084

How frustrating! Whenever I see that a nursery name includes the words "botanical" or "horticultural," I'm instantly impressed. I almost expect it to be staffed by scientists in lab coats, and I expect any nurseryman to know the difference between an encrusted sax and a mossy one.

I'm happy for you that your Beaver Creek order is coming. He sent me such beautiful plants. The Lewisia tweedyi is blooming its head off, and the others he sent (six in all) are just starting. They are packed with buds even at their present small size.

I get burned by two or three mail-order nurseries every year. There are certain ones I learned to stay away from years ago, of course, but there are so many of them now that it's hard to resist trying out new ones. I get so stir-crazy in winter that I tend to order way too much on-line. Then all the plants arrive and I don't know where to put them. Meanwhile, the local nurseries have bigger, better, and cheaper specimens of most of the things I've ordered. When will I learn?
jamie68
Vancouver, WA
(Zone 8b)

April 14, 2005
2:58 PM

Post #1402605

Hi Todd,
My first Mont Echo order is on its way...can't wait to see what I get, as I forgot to save a copy of my order, and it will be a bit of a surprise...and I am getting my next order ready now...Just got my Siskiyou order, and my Wrightman & Beavercreek orders will be sent in May...staggered them well apart this year...tired of getting more plants than I can "baby" along at any one time. This year I have been getting an order every 1 1/2 - 2 weeks which is perfect...

hope I don't have any of the negatives posts to add this year...I sure have been burned in the past though...UGH!!

Have a great day!
Jamie
ps...some pretty blooms for the day...not rock garden plants, but mail-order plants and bulbs...oh wait, there IS a rock in that garden picture...LOL :)

Thumbnail by jamie68
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 30, 2005
11:18 PM

Post #1438857

Well, I just got my plants (21 of them) from Wrightman and they're not going to lure any customers away from Beaver Creek or Alpines Mont Echo. A lot of them are potbound, with scraggly dry roots sticking out from the bottom of the pots, and they have very little top growth. The top growth on some (notably the Ramonda serbica) looks horrible. I think it rotted away under all of the peat moss they stuffed on top of each plant. I think all of the plants are salvageable, but they certainly can't compete with the perfect specimens the other Canadian nurseries sent me. It's not bad enough for a negative review on Watchdog, but it doesn't deserve a positive one either, so I'll just avoid posting anything at all.

Galanthophile
North East England
United Kingdom
(Zone 8a)

May 1, 2005
9:16 AM

Post #1439686

What a shame to read all of these posts about poor quality plants. I haven't had any bad experiences in the UK fortunately. If I'm buying from somewhere new though I tend to just order one or two plants and see what they are like - packing, quality, time taken etc then if I'm happy I put a bigger order in next time. It's always worked for me.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

May 1, 2005
9:28 AM

Post #1439693

That's a very wise policy, Galanthophile. I am too easily swayed by minimum shipping costs. I always order enough to justify the shipping cost, ostensibly to "get my money's worth," although this is often a fallacy.

Mind you, these aren't terrible plants. I've just been spoiled by several excellent nurseries this year, so I'm harder to please now.
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

November 25, 2006
4:47 AM

Post #2942346

I thought I'd better update this thread because some of the best alpines in my garden today are the ones from Wrightman -- the same ones that disappointed me so much when they arrived a year and a half ago. I started ordering alpines at the beginning of 2005, mostly from Siskiyou, Alpines Mont Echo, Mt. Tahoma, Beaver Creek, and Wrightman.

The Siskiyou plants looked so perfect when they arrived that I placed two more orders within the next couple of months. Sadly, most of them are gone now. I had the same experience with Mt. Tahoma -- beautiful plants that just didn't thrive in my garden. I still have most of the plants I bought from Alpines Mont Echo and Beaver Creek, but the real stars are the Wrightman plants.

How ironic it is that the plants from Canada adapted so much more easily to the weather in California than the plants from nurseries closer to home.
Todd_Boland
St. John's, NL
(Zone 5b)



November 25, 2006
2:27 PM

Post #2942820

That is odd! I had plants from Siskiyou but with the exchange and phyto charges, the prices were sky-high...and to top it off, I only have one plants still alive. Mt Echo and Beaver Creek have been great. I haven't ordered from Wrightmans in years. Actually, I grow most from seed these days, just buying a few select items from Beaver Creek.

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

November 25, 2006
2:34 PM

Post #2942842

Isn't that a nice surprise! The Wrightmans came down for a workshop last year. Harvey
explained that many alpines will only thrive in tufa rock. Did the ones you bought come in
tufa?

Tam

PS: Did you make a turkey for your crew this year?
Zuzu
Sebastopol, CA
(Zone 9a)

November 26, 2006
6:39 AM

Post #2944507

No, not in tufa, Tammy. They came in a conventional planting mix. It was so wet that I expected all of the plants to rot away. I had to replant them in a mixture of almost pure sand and grit and let them dry out for at least two weeks before I dared to touch them again. Jamie ordered some at the same time, and I'm pretty sure all of hers did rot away and die. I know she has nothing good to say about Wrightman.

I did make a turkey for my crew, of course. I had one drumstick and they got the rest. There was almost nothing left of the turkey this morning when I took it down the hill to delight the cats of our neighborhood feral colony.
Leftwood
Saint Bonifacius, MN
(Zone 4a)

November 27, 2006
12:51 AM

Post #2946403

My NARGS chapter has had problems with Siskiyou plants also. It is because of the medium Baldasarre uses to grow them - very different from most of our planting "soils". You will get better survival with his stuff if you plant basically bare root. Get most of the "dirt" off by swishing in a bucket of water, dip the roots in clean, washed sand, then plant as usual.

Baldasarre Mineo is quite an interesting guy. He realizes his medium is not what most people use, and in fact acknowledges many soil types that alpines can grow in. For instance, if all a plant has to grow in is a tiny crevice, there is nothing wrong with using a heavy and rich soil.

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

November 27, 2006
11:34 AM

Post #2947101

I had the impression that he'd sold Siskiyou. No?
Leftwood
Saint Bonifacius, MN
(Zone 4a)

November 28, 2006
12:20 AM

Post #2949046

Come to think of it, I think you're right Tammy. Well then, my info about planting bareroot was for when he was there. I don't know about the Siskiyou medium now. Thanks Tammy.

Tammy

Tammy
Barto, PA
(Zone 6b)

November 30, 2006
12:47 AM

Post #2954601

Didn't he originally buy that nursery w/o knowing much about alpines? I seem to recall there was
an interesting story there too. I wonder what he's up to now.

Tam
Leftwood
Saint Bonifacius, MN
(Zone 4a)

November 30, 2006
6:33 PM

Post #2956446

Despite Baldasarre visiting here twice that I know of, you may know more about this than me, Tammy. I really should pay more attention to these kinds of thing, but obviously I don't.

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