I visited the nursery on Tuesday, October 2nd, and have in fact visted there at least three out of the past four years. Considering I live roughly 80 miles north, that in itself should serve as my testimony to the company. I have always been pleased with my experience, especially this past one since I'm cheap and they are having a considerable sale (by visitation only I believe) through most of this month.
The plants are generally in good to very good condition, and they go out of their way to ensure as much. If plants go dormant, as they do this time of year, they will actually check the pot to ensure there is a satisfactory root system or bulb in it. That was my experience Tuesday. The general appearance of the place is just beautiful to me, as it is quite secluded in a rural setting (Greenback itself is a beautiful place in my opinion.) The plants are generally well-organized, though there may be some plants which can be found in more than one general location- no biggie. They allow you all the independence you can reasonably expect while perusing the grounds, but are there to help if you ask. All in all, I feel compelled to recommend these people. I too noticed the negative feedback, and I concede I have had no experience in mail order from this or any other nursery. What I will say with confidence is that if you can visit the nursery, you will go away with a positive impression of the place and the people there.On October 7th, 2007, AvDaBr added the following:
I apologize for the oversight in my previous post, but I have in fact purchased plants via mail order from other nurseries.
My wife and I have known Meredith Clebsch for well over 20 years and bought plants from Native Gardens year after year. We've never had a bad experience with her company. The plants and seeds are always healthy and come with loads of advice for planting and maintenence. The few concerns we expressed over the years were promptly addressed and corrected along with extra plants or seeds way beyond what we had paid for. All but one of those concerns were my mistake, not theirs but they gave me extra anyway. For that reason I believe they do care a great deal about customer satisfaction. I know Native Gardens takes great care to propagate from nursery stock and is a strong advocate of protecting the wild growth native wildflowers. In a world of 'Mart' type, catalog order stores it is nice to see a small family run business that really cares about our environment and works hard and hangs in there year after year making a difference . I can think of no better place to spend my money for native wildflowers and seeds.
I have bought dozens of plants from Native Gardens, always by visiting their farm in person. I am shocked by this negative feedback. Meredith Clebsch, who runs Native Gardens, is very experienced and is a treasure trove of knowledge on Tennessee's native plants. All of the plants I've bought at Native Gardens were healthy and are now prospering in my yard. I hope that unfortunate internet experiences will not taint the reputation of this fine nursery.
Commonsense Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7b) (11 reviews) October 21, 2003
These people have never cashed my check. The delivery date I requested has come and gone. They have not answered e-mail, and their fax/phone number is constantly busy.
Now I have had to incur the cost of cancelling my check. On November 4th, 2003, Commonsense added the following:
I received a long, rambling e-mail which told me about all sorts of personal and business problems the company has been having, from downed power lines to changes in shipping regulations to employee problems. I didn't need to know any of this, and it was almost embarrassing. The owner says she has "made good" on any and all problems she has had with any orders - despite the fact that my order never arrived.
I have told the owner that she needs to do as well as other online companies in terms of answering the phone and e-mails. It sounds to me like she is completely out of her depth and has no concept of what it takes to run a business. I'll chalk it up to experience. Hope I've saved someone else the same hassles.
I received some plants from them. All were healthy and well packaged. I will buy from them again. All notes enclosed were friendly.
amazondoc Knoxville, TN (Zone 7a) (2 reviews) January 7, 2003
I am distressed to see the negative experiences that some people have had with this nursery. I have bought from these people several times -- always in person -- and I have only the highest regard for them. They are friendly and knowledgeable, and they carry interesting and healthy plants. Perhaps they are simply not properly equipped for the computer age? If you will be buying in person, please don't hesitate to give these folks your business.
To make a long story short, I ordered Blue-Eyed Mary seeds from Native Gardens and they never delivered. They cashed the check, never sent the seeds, ignored two emails, one plain letter and one certified mail letter, signed for by Meredith Bradford Clebesch. It appears to me they are simply thieves. A longer version of my story is at: http://www.dontveter.com/howtogrow/nativegardens.html
liltedwilly Oriental, NC (Zone 8a) (3 reviews) December 15, 2002
After a very friendly email from Meredith in July, I ordered plants in Sept for an Oct delivery. No plants delivered, check cashed, no responses to numerous emails and phone calls (to answering machine). I have contacted the TN Division of Consumer Affairs.On January 6th, 2003, liltedwilly added the following:
Just recd an apology ltr & refund from Meredith Bradford-Clebsch. Also enclosed were copies of a ltr to Better Business Bureau and a notice dated 11/10/02 re order delays due to fireant quarantine. Ms. Clebsch stated the notice was sent to all pending orders after the end of 10/02. I never recd this notice. Non-response to emails was a software problem and unanswered phone messages was a personnel problem. Ms. Clebsch had been away during this period. She indicated she would ship this spring the plants I had previously ordered. Whether any of this would have happened without my contacting TN Dept of Consumer Affairs in unknown.On June 12th, 2003, liltedwilly added the following:
Spring is almost over and I have not received the plants Ms. Clebsch stated would be sent. I will not be ordering any more plants from them.
mikejan Staten Island, NY (24 reviews) June 16, 2002
I placed an order and paid by check. I have the cancelled check. I have not received my plants nor have I been told there is a backorder. I sent an e-mail recently requesting shipping info and it has been ignored. This is neutral because one of the plants I ordered was listed as not available until summer (June? July? August???). If they are holding all plants until the one is available, fine, but answer my e-mail. When I placed the order I wrote on it not to hold the order for the one plant, but ship it seperately and let me know by e-mail how much extra it would cost. I will upgrade/downgrade my opinion after the matter is settled.On June 27th, 2002, mikejan changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
After a few e-mails requesting shipping instructions I decided to ask for a refund. Still no answer from them. As the Patsy Cline song said: "Never No More" from these people.On July 4th, 2002, mikejan added the following:
I have called each day since my last posting (answering machine) and have sent a few e-mails requesting a refund. No answer to any of them. I have read enough postings from others who have had bad experiences with other nurseries to know that I'll probably not get a refund nor a replacement order. This seems to be my only recourse.
Highly recommended. In Spring 2001 I ordered a number of plants from this East Tennessee nursery. The order arrived in fantastic condition. All plants were small, but of the highest quality, and they really took off when planted! All bloomed within a few months. The nursery is owned by a couple, one of whom is a former Botany professor. The only slight drawback is that you cannot order online at present. Instead, you place the order, print it out, then mail it to them.