I was given a gift certificate to this company, which is more than an hour drive from my home in Toronto. I had already had one bad experience with them years ago when I planted their custom wildflower seed mixture with poor results. But, since I had access to free plants, I figured I might as well give them another try, so I drove up in late spring. The staff were not terribly friendly or helpful, but oh well, they are probably not paid very well.
I chose ten perennials, each of which was quite tiny and not particularly healthy looking, but no worse than anything else they had for sale. I asked a sales associate whether they were first or second year plants. She said second year and assured me they would all bloom that summer. Well, she lied. Nothing bloomed the first year and only the Queen of the Prairie bloomed the year after (it has since spread quite nicely). The rest never came back, despite the fact that all my selections were hardy for my zone 6 garden.
Stay far far away from this place. If you are looking for native plants, Humber Nurseries has a very good selection, are less expensive, and are only about a 25-minute drive from downtown Toronto.
I advise avoiding business with this company for the following reasons:
1. Their shipping rates for live plants are outrageous (40 percent of total order cost).
2. Four of the 10 plants ordered were dead, one is dying, and two of the live ones (trilliums) have damage to the single leaf. Even the okay live plants are pitifully small.
3. They do not adhere to the order processing terms as stated on their Web site. I agreed to a 30 percent deposit with the balance to follow in late April or early May. The company chose to process the charge for the balance in the middle of April and did not notify me in advance, which resulted in a fee from my bank.
4. They do not answer e-mails promptly. I never received one word of apology in response to notification about the overdraft they caused, and I had to leave a message on an answering machine, leave a message with a secretary, and e-mail twice to hear anything about the dead plants.
5. The company does not guarantee their plants or offer to refund or replace if there are any problems. They claimed that the shipper (UPS) is to blame for the dead plants, although shipping service was 2nd day air. I had to initiate a claim with UPS. If UPS pays for the plants, I will get a refund.
6. Many of the plants they offer are available in larger sizes and for smaller prices in the US. (How I wish I had checked with the local nursery before ordering from Wildflower Farm!)
7. Last and by far not least, their 'offices' in the US is a lease with a warehousing company (Laub International) who advertises its services as a 'front' for Canadian companies. This is not made clear on the Wildflower Farm Web site at all, but the US street address on the UPS label for Wildflower Farm is identical to the one on the Laub Web site, even though there was a Canadian customs inspection label on the box. It would be much more honest of Wildflower Farm to admit the plants are coming from Canada. If Lee Valley Tools can do it, so can this company.
There are many worthwhile native plant nurseries in the US. Don't bother with this one unless you have deep pockets and don't mind being ignored. On October 25th, 2007, whirlybird added the following:
Update, October 2007:
I clicked through on a Google ad for Mertensia virginica (no site name) and was taken to the Wildflower Farm site.
Lo and behold, the company is no longer shipping live plants -- just seeds.
Given the treatment I received from them, it's a wise survival move on their part. I wouldn't be surprised if my plants were not the only ones to have arrived dead or so damaged they died soon after.
One single plant from a $120 seedling order survived until fall (the most expensive Solomon's seal on Earth).
I planted more than 150 other perennials this spring and autumn and lost only 2, which says there are plenty of other mail order nurseries doing things the right way.
croakie North Augusta, SC (Zone 8b) (5 reviews) December 28, 2005
I've bought seeds on a number of occasions from Wildflower Farm and have been very happy every time. The germination rate is excellent and there are detailed instructions for germination. I have received my orders quickly as well.
cathaleen Prince George, Canada (10 reviews) May 19, 2005
I have just received my first order from this company, the plants have all arrived intact - I will see in the coming weeks how they all do. One plant I ordered they could not supply, so a cheque accompanied my order to refund my costs - this is very impressive. I also had emailings from them before the order shipped to see what I wanted to do about the unavailable plant and what the options were. So I give them high praise for their customer service, I am hoping the plants do as well. Given this early positive experience I will look to reorder from them again.