Are you ready? It's time for our 14th annual photo contest! Enter your best pictures of the year, for a chance to win a calendar and annual subscription here. Hurry! Deadline for entries is October 21.
I have used Milaeger's for my lawn care applications many years in the past. I have not used a lawn service for two years, but this year I was hosting a large party and wanted the lawn to look good. I got the first application of fertilizer and then on May 24, 2011, I was given the herbicide to kill the weeds. Within weeks our 11 huge white pines and 6 other spruce trees were showing signs of growth regulator damage (herbicide). We have the UW Extension and an Arborist confirm that the trees were damaged by chemicals and not bugs or fungus. On June 16th I talked to Kevin who agreed to my request to refund my entire pre-paid application and aeration payment. He said they have been receiving lots of calls and understood that I did not want them back on my property. Two weeks later, no money. He told me on the 26th that the payment has been processed. Today is July 2nd and no money received. I have left two messages for him to call me. Nothing. Now considering legal action. Why is it so difficult for a company to show some respect? I was going to make the trip to the garden center this year because of their wonderful commercials, but reading all the comments here, I'm glad I didn't. I guess Steins isn't so bad.....
Milaeger's is a local family-owned business in Racine. They have mostly high quality products, but this is often overshadowed by their in-store staff. The check-outs are generally staffed by young high school or college-aged girls, and they must receive little to no customer service training. I say this because I've been shopping at Milaeger's for many years and the poor service has been quite consistent. You'll find the occasional check-out girl who is naturally friendly and needs no training, but others can't even muster a "hello". I find that you can usually assess the quality of a company's management by how the employees interact with customers. The older women who work in the other areas of the store are just as "detached" from their customers. It's really quite remarkable considering that Milaeger's is considered a higher end garden store (although I've found the pricing of the plants/trees to be lower than some of the chain stores in our area). I imagine they lose customers because of this, but they probably don't care as much about how they treat customers because they make so much money anyway. If I were Kristine R. or Kevin Milaeger (who I'm sure care very much about customer service), I would be looking seriously at the managers I've hired, and then try to remedy the problem. I do have to make a distinction between the employees inside the store and the guys who work outside and help load your garden supplies - those guys are always very friendly and helpful so kudos to them and/or whoever trains them.
My wife and I make the over 30 mile trek from Gurnee, Il to Milaeger's several times a year. We first found the smaller location in Sturtevant when seeking Dept. 56 dealers back in 1997, and found a wonderful Garden Center and Nursery as well.
The past four years we have begun to purchase the bulk of our annuals in hanging or standing pots, a few good quality perennials, vegetable garden starters, several shrubs, and a host of ancilliary items at the Douglas and 4-Mile main store.
Milaeger's is not inexpensive, but then you almost always get what you pay for into the bargain, and when you don't they are not reticent to take it back or replace it.
I do think they have overpriced many of the high-end items , e.g. big cut-stone water follys, tube chimes, fancy firepits, and the largest bird feeders you've ever seen, but the customers for those items are, by and large, not scared off by the handsome prices if the item is of an obvious quality and suits their fancy.
The quality and variety of plant materials, the expertise of the staff, the many many well-made often hard to find garden accuterments, etc. all make a trip to Milaeger's on a fine chilly early Spring day, or even on a bright blue and getting onto sticky end of June day a wonderfu outing.
They have added the Java Garden Cafe, which can provide a scrumptious light lucheon, with great coffee or other refreshments at a reasonable cost right inside the main entry.
All in all our trips to Milaeger's have become a tradition in our house which we want to continue for many years to come.
I'm a native Racinian and have shopped at Mileager's for many years. I shop the local, family-owned businesses to support Racine's economy - I strongly believe in our community and have a geniune concern for its well-being. While Mileager's plant offering is expansive and I find merchandise there that I don't find elsewhere, without fail every visit to either the Milaeger's Racine or Sturtevant store is not a pleasant one. If the employees don't know a customer or the customer doesn't appear wealthy, one is ignored and the cashiers can barely muster up a hello or a thank you upon purchasing merchandise. I experienced this personally and have observed the treatment of other customers. Many of my friends and co-workers have had the same negative experience as well. Heaven forbid one asks for assistance while shopping at the Sturtevant store; that would be an interuption in the employees' socializing with one another. It has become obvious with the expansion of their Sturtevant store that Milaeger's doesn't need to be concerned with providing good customer service.........and it shows.
nevadagdn Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) (117 reviews) April 1, 2003
I used to order from Milaeger's mail order division as recently as 1998 (I think), their last year as a mail-order nursery. I always received superb quality plants, well-packed, at fair prices. I'd had my doubts, because I'd started ordering from Milaeger's when I lived in Kansas, and thought that perhaps the increased transit time to Nevada would harm the plants, but that was never the case.
If I lived within reasonable driving distance (as in can get there and back, with time to shop in 16 hours), I'd still be shopping at Milaeger's. I envy those of you who live close enough to do so!
I go out of my way to visit here every spring. Their selection and variety are outstanding, and the quality is superb. They carry annuals and perennials that can't be found at other garden centers. It's well worth the trip.
Renee_O Mukwonago, WI (Zone 5a) (1 review) January 30, 2003
If you are looking for a rare or unusual annual, perennial or tropical; or a common variety of bedding plant, shrub or vine, I highly recommend this garden center here in Wisconsin. These folks have 87 greenhouses filled with just about everthing that grows. If they don't have what you are looking for, they will go out of their way to get it for you.
I visit here every spring and have done so for many years. I have never gotten a sick or bug-infested plant. All their plants are very healthy and are guaranteed. I have never had to return anything so I can't vouch for their return policy.
One word of caution: If you plan to visit, wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather, and allow yourself at least 5 hours.
This place is a gardener's dream.
I live about 20 miles from Mileager's in Racine Wisconsin and I've visited their nursery. They are a bit pricey but they have wonderful nursery stock. I bought 2 hybrid tea rose bushes from them 3 years ago and they're still alive and doing well. I've never had a problem withthe staff, most of them are very knowledgeable about plant care and such. And, I can't comment on their catalogue because I've never ordered from it. I do like Mileagers but their prices usually prompt me to shop else where.
I was given a fifty dollar gift certificate .It was thrown out by mistake; when advising Milaeger's of this was told they keep no records of gift certificates and had no way to check if certificate had already been redeemed and refused to issue another I find this an incompetent way to do business. Not great for public relations either.
FLVT123 Williston, VT (Zone 4b) (15 reviews) July 1, 2000
Just read responses on this famous old catalog company. Knew they were supplying Garden.com but so sad to see so many people's experience with them has seemingly been ruined by the internet alliance with Garden.com. The locals who visit the Racine nursery are really no help to me--I live in Vermont. And this catalog was ALWAYS a mainstay of my gardening. Mostly, their selection of natives was always far and away the best for a wildflower gardener, which I am. I am now going to Garden.com, and SEE if I can get anywhere near the same quality and selection. It is so hard to plow through the "tea and cookie, garden party, and straw hat" silliness on that site, I usually just close it and forget it. They do a terrible job of reaching hardcore gardeners. I understand their pressure from Wall Street, but that doesn't help my gardening needs.
This catalog was a staple of my winter gardening plans each year. It offered not only pictures and information on unusual varieties, but winter hardiness on plants that I might want to order, because of their unusual location, which gave me a great comfort factor. My ordering from them was mixed - but I have to say that on the whole, the plants I received were exceptionally healthy, oversized, and a good value. They did, of course, like any nursery, have mishaps - smaller (disappointing) plants and our-of-stocks- with long waits for replacements or credits. But I can forgive this, knowing that small companies who reach out in many directions get stretched beyond their limits. I don't know what happened to Milaeger's - I know that there are a lot of mixed experiences out there - but I know that they are a super company and must be going through some growing pains. But I sure do miss their great catalog - and offerings!
Boy was I disappointed when they dropped their mailorder catalogue! The ones I have are now laminated to preserve them. A goldmine of valuable info as this place carries many cultivars of each perennial. Mailorder plants were above average and in pots. I usually do not expect too much from a plant delivered via mail. If you can - get to their actual nursery where you can purchase robust livestock off the rack - god the selection! If you're out there Mr. Milaeger - bring back the catalogue! Did you notice you did not get any of my money this year?
I ordered six daylilies from Millaegers via Garden.com a couple of weeks ago, and they arrived the other day. I was thrilled to find them packed in shredded cardboard, and the bareroot plants were packaged very nicely and the packing medium was still moist. Three of the plants were about average for bareroot daylilies -- they were about the size of the daylilies I started this spring. The other three -- Prairie Blue Eyes - were absolutely gigantic. They were larger than my three-year old hand-me-down daylilies -- and I actually had to divide them before planting. I got approximately double what I paid for with those specific daylilies. We'll see how they all do -- but those Prairie Blue Eyes were by far the best I've received yet.
I made the 70-mile drive up to Milaeger's this spring to buy some plants. I had read on your web page that they had good quality perennials and had received a large catalog last year.I spent $20 for a rose bush that turned out to be stone cold dead. Not even one bud came out. About half of the annuals I planted died. The $4 rose bushes I've bought locally show more life.I sent them an email seeing if they would refund at least the cost of the rose bush and they never responded.I was basically ripped off by them and want to warn people not to make the same mistake by buying from Milaegers.
I have just been informed by the Racine, WI retail store that they are no longer in the mail order business. I was told to go to the internet to Garden.com and purchase perennials there as Milaeger's supplies the plants ordered on this site. Now, I will not be planning my garden additions and alterations at the dining room table each January with my favorite companion and best source and I will not be using the internet. This is a shame - healthy plants, competitive prices, excellent selection and a good and pleasant customer service, all in an excellent catalog. Almost all of my experiences were positive.
DonnaMack Elgin, IL (Zone 5a) (50 reviews) February 1, 1999
My experience with Milaeger's is a little different than most because I live less than 40 miles from their Racine nursery. Therefore, despite the fact that I had a catalogue, I consistently went to the nursery this fall (at least six trips) to buy perennials and grasses (about 60 plants). The catalog is tempting but the actual selections are incredibly varied and in excellent condition. Their October sales are awesome (buy 12 perennials, get 6 free, buy 6 get 3 free, buy 3 get 1 free) which reduced my cost per plant to about $2.50 each. These, of course, are full sized plants, with uncut leaves. Better yet, I would call ahead and speak with an incredible employee and tell her what I was seeking. She would put aside prime specimens and reserve them for me. I would also describe a site and she would put great energy into finding the perfect plant. If you can get there personally, so it! Alas, there is no more catalog, and finding them on Garden.com is a pain, since Garden.com does not want you to have a relationship with their suppliers. When I called Milaeger's, even they could not find a listing of their plants only in Garden.com. [update] Having been a walk in customer pre-Garden.com, I wondered how the company would handle a situation in which I needed plant replacement. Although I bought about 60 plants last year, I was a walk in customer who used a credit card and received receipts that were not itemized.Therefore, not only was I not in Milaeger's computer, but I was calling on the telephone.I called about a Miscanthus sinensis that had not re-established itself in spring. Despite no real proof of any kind (I did offer to fax credit card statements) I was sent a very similar replacement (three days later!) that was excellently packaged and in beautiful condition. I called about a Japanese primrose that was slow getting established and was given advice that solved the problem. One failure out of sixty odd plants is unbelievable.Perhaps best of all, I was wandering around inspecting a specific plant when a man I recognized as Kevin Milaeger (the co-owner) came over and asked whether I needed help. He took the time to give me great advice about two plants. He was very pleasant and gentlemanly, and his advice was excellent, advice that I had not read anywhere. [2nd update] Thought that you would like to know that Milaeger's has a 1999 Perennial Catalog and Price List. I just received a copy. It is all in black and white, and lacks photographs, but according to the text lists over 300 plants more than its predecessor, and according to them will be in this format for the foreseeable future. There are two pages of new listings for 1999. It is 88 pages long. The text content appears to be the same high quality as before. The purpose of it seems to be to encourage the customer to come into the Racine store. There is no ordering page. [3rd Update] As a very happy customer of Milaegers (at 42 miles away, I make several visits a year) I am sad to report that the company has announced that it ceased to be a mail order company with the demise of Garden.com. They are still in operation. I purchased, this spring and last fall, outstanding stock (a tree, six shrubs and three perennials) but they should not be on your list since mail order is no longer an option, and there is no point in frustrating your users with raves about plants that are unobtainable by mail order.
While I am usually just a browser at these things, I did not want the "bad taste" left by the last volunteer "reviewer" to go unanswered. I have always been very satisfied with Mileager's, been fairly treated by them, and appreciated the very friendly and eager to please attitude over the telephone. They once shipped me three roses in one season, and ended up not charging me for any of them, including shipping. Of course, I only live 100 miles away, and am not paying that much for shipping, but if "they never said a word about shipping" did you ask? I appreciate them because they stock more of the more unusual varieties of plants (although they do, of course, run out of them). Last season Iordered a Geranium phaeum "Mourning Widow" - imagine my surprise when the flowers opened white. I called Mileager's and was given a credit against my next order. Imagine my greater surprise when, upon researching further, I discovered that I had a plant another mailorder nursery wanted to charge 3x as much as I had paid for it. I kept it. I also called Mileager's and told them to forget the credit. Isn's serendipity wonderful?
After five or six years of ordering from Milaegers, I quit! Five years ago, this was a great company. I think the problem now is twofold: they got big and stopped caring, and tissue culture became one of their primary methods to propagate some of the more popular offerings. I have still not received half of my order for '97 and have no word from them on it. Of the plants they sent, one, Eupatorium Rugosum'Chocolate' was incredibly dinky - a single stem with 3-4 leaves. This plant was $5.95 and I am really offended. Now I don't want the rest of my plants - I just want a refund.[Update Fall 1997]After many years of being a Milaeger mail order customer, I am quitting. They no longer seem to care about sending good plants in good condition, correctly labeled as to variety. I ordered 5 items for spring of 1997, paid $12 shipping and have only received 2 of those 5 plants. That's a lot of shipping per plant!One of the plants I did get was tiny - a grass in a 1.5 in pot with about 5 leaves - and this was $6.00. By July I realized that it was in fact not the variety I had ordered but the species - this is not satisfactory. By my method of calculation, I have now paid $12 in shipping for ONE plant. Milaeger's finally sent me a letter to inform me that they were not going to be able to supply the remaining three plants from my original order. They offered credit, refund, whatever, but no mention of all that shipping I paid.Had I listed substitute plants, I might be happier today, but there were no other plants I wanted. I would expect a company with theirgood reputation to not list plants unless they have a large stock available.[2nd update]Just wanted to post an update on my experience with Milaeger so that those destined to receive a copy of their tantalizing catalog in the next few weeks will go into this this with their eyes wide open.I ordered 5 plants for Spring of 1997 and only received two of those. Mid-summer I realized that the grass that was sent was not the variety I ordered. In fact, if anyone at the nursery had looked at it they would have seen this. It is supposed to develop red leaves in Fall, but even the immature leaves will have a red cast to them, according to an expert friend. I asked them to add the credit for this plant to my credit from the undelivered spring order. Got a post card telling me they would be glad to do this - they did apologize for the error. I was still pretty steamed that they didn't offerany of my $12 postage back - I have now paid them that much in postage for one good plant! About three weeks after their card arrived, I got a refund check for the balance from Spring.I now have a $6 credit with them - hardly worth using and I am really leery of ordering from them at all at this point.[3rd Update]I guess we should define what it means to be a satisfied customer. If you are a gardener willing to pay top prices for plants even if they are incorrectly labeled, then you may well be content to order from places like Milaegers. Thus far they are 0/3 in correct identification of the three Tricyrtis cultivars I have ordered over the years. Of course it took me a while to figure out just what I had as Tricyrtis are not well known and for years I gave the incorrect names to many other gardeners around here who were interested in the identity of plants in my garden. As for the shipping which should have been refunded to me - if they cannot fill my order and have to issue a credit or refund, the shipping should be reduced automatically. I shouldn't have to ask.
I ordered some perennials from Milaeger earlier this year. It was not a happy experience. They were out of stock on several of the items, one was not shipped at all, and with the remainder, all but one didn't make it, despite 35 years of gardening expertise. I shall not repeat the experiment.
I like the Wisconsin based suppliers because of their hardy winter hardy plants. I have ordered from Mileager's in the past. There was come confusion on my order and some backordering however they worked until all was correct. They have a very complete selection.
I live in the Milwaukee area and have both ordered from Milaegers and visited their stores many times and my advice is, if you can make the trip, go to the garden center. You won't be disappointed. The catalog has good variety and nice pictures, but the plants at the garden center are larger and cheaper. They also carry a ton of varieties (some very unusual) that they don't sell through the catalog. I do enjoy their catalog however, with it I have wiled away many a winter night. Kevin Milaeger has a terrific presentation that he does on perennials A-Z complete with beautiful color slides and anecdotes. He came to our Master Gardener training class and he only got through the H's in four hours. I believe he's forgotten more about perennials then most of us will ever know.
Their plants are usually mailed in pots and always arrive in hearty condition, with healthy foliage and good roots. They are also happy to stay in their pots for a while if I can't plant them immediately. The company has been completely accommodating in honoring their liberal guarantee and I feel totally confident in ordering from them. You'll find their catalog is informative and inspirational. Although they are not glitzy, their selections are every bit as interesting. Milaeger's is definitely one of my mainstays.