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Company Comment, posted on December 1, 2001:
Shady Oaks Nursery has been a leader in providing Shade Loving Perennials for nearly 20 years. A business decision has been made to close the Retail Division at Shady Oaks Nursery. The economy and competition have played a large part in our decision. We are no longer offering a retail catalog or web site. We will continue to be a strong player in the Wholesale Market. With the closing of the Retail division, we can now focus all our efforts in becoming a leader in supplying your local garden centers with quality shade loving plants. Happy Gardening, Gordon Oslund, President Shady Oaks Nursery
I have ordered many hostas from this great company. Mr. Hansen comes up with some wonderful new varieties each year. They are well-rooted liners from tissue culture. I have never had to replace any of my hostas with the nursery. I will be a long time customer with this company, because I know they will keep my customers happy. Keep up the good work!!!!
I have only one experience with them. I ordered a hosta for my daughter at a different address. The hosta came to me instead and was the sorriest specimen I have ever received--small, limp, and infested with bugs. I was glad my daughter did not get it. When I called them, they asked me to ship the plant back. They didn't seem all that apologetic. I was so disgusted I asked for a refund. Never again!
I experimented with many mail order sources this year, and I'd have to say that Shady Oaks was my biggest disappointment. They have a beautiful, informative catalog, both paper and online (and even really nice invoices). But the plants I got were rather terrible looking. I've waited about two months to see how they held up, before writing a review. Most are alive, except for two of the three petite bee balms that came bare root (they don't even tell you what kind of plant you'll be receiving). However given the size of the plants, and the high prices, they just are not worth it. There are many other excellent sources for the products they sell, that are either cheaper or provide far more robust plants (or both cheaper and more robust!) I also got some violas from Shady Oaks, that were supposedly dormant, but they looked like they just had sprouted for the first time ever. Dianthus were very dried out. The campanula's were in pretty good shape, and are doing the best overall of the plants I got from shady oaks (but some campanulas I got from Avant Gardens are doing much better).
I ordered from Shady Oaks following the reading of several comments on this web site. Indeed, they have a lovely catalog and a nice selection of plants. I have ordered from them twice. The first time was fine, though I thought theprices and shipping were high. The second was spring 2000. I ordered a 'Fire and Ice' Hosta, which was not cheap, among a few other things. The hosta I received was a *single* eye; evenSpring Hill doesn't send plants that small! The tovara 'Painter's Pallete' had not emerged when I received it, even though it was May - and it never did. I also ordered Persicaria 'Red Dragon', Lysimachia 'Alexander', and Kalimeris Incens. All of these plants were extremely small. I had received an order the same week from Wilkerson Mill with absolutely huge plants. I sent a letter to Shady Oaks expressing my disappointment and did not receive a response.In July, I asked for a replacement for Tovara and was pleasantly surprised to receive a nice, large specimen. Still, I was disappointed with the size and quality of the plants -- particularly the hosta. I doubt I will order from them. again.
I've ordered from them for the last three years (and will again this year). I've never been disappointed. The pictures in the catalog are great (some don't do justice to the plants). I always look forward to their catalog. Can be a bit pricey but as long as I'm getting big healthy plants I've no complaints.
Ordered from them last season based on gorgeously photographed catalog. A terrible mistake! Every item is now dead. Most appalling, just 3 days outside their warranty period, they refused to replace nary a rootling. I have gardened for 30 years and know how to nurture successfully. Arrogance and poor stock makes Shady Oaks merely a sad memory.
DonnaMack Elgin, IL (Zone 5a) (54 reviews) February 1, 2000
I have only had one experience with this company but it was so overwhelmingly positive that I wanted to write. I was looking for a tiarella that fit very specific requirements for sun exposure, invasiveness, color, siting, alkalinity and so on. There was only one:tiarella lacquerleaf. I could only find one supplier, that being Shady Oaks Nursery.I ordered and expected my four plants last April, and when they did not arrive when expected I telephoned. I was told that theirhorticulturalist felt that the plants should be held back about four more weeks, and was then asked for what EXACT day I would like delivery! The four plants arrived on the day promised and they were beautiful, healthy and larger than I had expected. They began blooming within a week, and thrived through summer, fall and now are semi-evergreen under the snow of my highly alkaline, clay soil.I highly recommend their excellent website if you are looking for plants that require specific amount of sun or shade. The search function isexcellent. If you are seeking heucheras, for example (and they have 21!), the site distinguishes those that can TRULY take large amounts of sun, which require sandy loam and which are more versatile, and other very specific date that helps in the proper placement of a plant. It helps eliminate plants that are touted by others as workable but that will struggle in your garden.I plan to order from them again this year.
I have ordered from this company for several years, was very satisfied with the plants I received until the lat 2 years and the prices have gone up and the plant size down. I am one of 3 coordinators for the Master Gardener display gardens at the Purdue campus here in Ft. Wayne and the plants I ordered from them for our gardens this year will be the last.
Nice catalog - lots of shade plants. Can be a little pricey, especially for some of the less common varieties. Ordered hostas and ferns - all were very nice size and condition - established quickly. Will be ordering some specimen hostas again this year.
Plants were really great for the first couple of years I ordered and over the last couple of years they seem to have fallen off somewhat. I ordered some tiarella from them on two different occasions. The first received was of excellent quality and even survived to minus 23 degrees with minimal protection. The batch I received in the fall of '97 struggled due to underdeveloped roots. They appeared to have just been potted up to a 4" container before shipment. They cheerfully replaced the plants lost. But kind of makes one leery of ordering in the future. It was similar with phlox ordered in spring of '98 the plants didn't really take off last summer. I know sleep, creep, leap! is the nature of perennials. We'll see how they perform this summer.
I have ordered several times from this company and by and large have been impressed with the plants I've received. Particularly Hosta's - in fact I've received gifts or replacements for out of stock plants from them which are now some of my favorite Hostas. One complaint is that they send a discounted price list not long after spring plants are shipped and once, when I was told a plant was unavailable it showed up on the discount list. Come on, either you've got it or you don't. I also got a Tricyrtis from them that cost me about 8 bucks which was tiny and took about 3 years to reach a reasonable size.
I have ordered from Shady Oaks Nursery the last few years and really like doing business with them. Nice catalog, healthy plants (usually, have only needed one replacement and that was done in a timely and friendly manner), good packing.
I have ordered several times from Shady Oaks and have been extremely pleased. The only trouble I have had is that the catalog and pictures are so good that I have trouble getting them back when I lend them to people!
I've placed several orders with this nursery over the past seven or eight years. Plants are of good quality. There were a couple of instances where plants arrived a month or two later than I requested. But the staff is customer-service oriented, and they seem to be getting better at timeliness.
I've ordered Hostas from Shady Oaks the past 2 years. I've always gotten top quality plants in perfect condition. If one wasn't in stock I ordered they replaced it with one of equal or higher value. I've never had one to die. I personally think they're a great mail order company! No complaints here!
I too was very enthused about Shade Oaks until recently (last two years). Hmmmm - this seems to be a trend, maybe I getting too persnickety. My last few shipments from them have included more and more bare root plants and I am finding that a lot of times these plants don't put out the way those in pots do. It seems to take them quite a bit longer to get established. In addition, many of them have had tender etiolatednew shoots starting up from the roots. I found that I had to protect these from getting snapped of for several weeks. I have also been a little miffed by a handful of sub-standard plants which I received. In my Fall shipment, in fact I was sent and Iris pallida, which had yucky mushy rotted tubers. I would think that anyone dealing in irises would know to poke the tuber before packing for shipping! I know they will replace these for me, but I am tired of writing letters to them. SIGH - I suppose something wonderful will tempt me again this year. They do offer some very special things. I would say to let them know if you are not happy with something and at the same time tell them that things are slipping a little in terms of quality.
I have been ordering from Shady Oaks for several years and have recommended them to many people. I am in zone 5a, also have sent plants as gifts to zone 4b. All grew well. Their service has been good, plants have arrived well-packed at a reasonable planting time for my area. Toward the end of each shipping season they send a sale list of varieties they have overstocks of, and this is a great chance to obtain some lovely plants at a good price. The addition of color pictures to the catalog has made it enticing as well as informative. The shade level descriptions alone make it one of the best catalogs in the business. A company that knows its specialty well. The only down side so far is that the person(s) who take phone orders need things repeated as they are a bit random about taking down the information.
Excellent business. Good catalog with detailed information on plants, especially hostas. Sound horticultural and business knowledge behind well-run operation owned by father-son team. They stand behind their plants. They have open house/sale days for special bargains during several weekends in June/July if you are in Southern Minnesota at that time.
What a great company! The quality of the plants is second to none. The catalog doesn't include pictures (a down side) but it does classify plants by the type of shade they like. For those with large shady areas in their gardens, this catalog is a 'must'!