magnaastra Charleston, IL (Zone 6a) (49 reviews) October 27, 2016
Having ordered from AA several times, I am shocked, frankly, about my last two orders. I still have not received my 'Cobra' spruce, which I ordered in August. Per my bank, my check for it was cashed; I have contacted AA twice, but have never gotten a reply. Now, it's late October, my planting window is all but closed, I am apparently out ninety-five dollars....and I still have no plant.
As for my second order, for a 'Falling Waters' weeping cypress, I placed it a month after my first order...and I got it relatively promptly, albeit with no warning. Jury is still out on whether it will survive winter; it was very small, with very little viable tissue, and sent with a stone bone dry rootball, appeared desiccated when I got it.
What is going on with this company? This experience is, unfortunately, totally different from any I have previously had with them.
Will update when/if I get my missing spruce tree, and with a progress report on my sickly cypress. Very disappointed, so far.
Crowhaven Sullivan, MO (3 reviews) October 6, 2015
I have ordered from Arrowhead Alpines over a few years and have yet to be disappointed. The plants arrive well-packed and take to the garden quickly. The folks at Arrowhead Alpines seem to have a dry wit that is evidenced in their online catalog and in their dealings with customers. I respond to this well---but not everyone might.... ( And, I DID plant the scopolia near the mandrake, Arrowhead---and it looks DIVINE )...
I would recommend this nursery to anyone looking for unusual additions to their garden. My poison garden is a whole lot bigger since I discovered Arrowhead...and I will return year after year, vodka and tonic at hand and dirty garden shoes under the dog, to order from them again.
MollyBlooms Grosse Pointe Farms, MI (12 reviews) September 20, 2015
I see on their website that Arrowhead is holding a big sale on trees and shrubs to clear out that part of their stock. They explain that they are downsizing to refocus on alpines.
I have had many good plants from Arrowhead over the years; in fact, I pretty much landscaped my back yard with their shrubs, which thrived from the start. But I think they are right to downsize.
One of Arrowhead's charms is that of finding unusual gems among their large and incredibly varied stock, but the other side of that was that they sometimes seemed a bit overwhelmed; that is why this is a neutral instead of a positive. On my most recent order, I got some good plants and some not-so-great looking ones. The order went to the billing address instead of the address I specified for shipping, so the plants spent almost a week in the box. Brigitta was most apologetic and based on past experience, I have no doubt that she will do her best to make things right.
I ordered four pardancanda (candylilies) and two pardanthopsis (vesper iris) on 7/06/14 and they arrived today (7/10/14). Very well packaged. The plants are very large and strongly rooted...definitely not seedlings. One vesper iris already in bud, and the candy lilies large with multiple fans...about the largest plants I've received from online. I realize these are not the rarest of plants, but the candy lilies are difficult to find named varieties, and not many places offer the iris. I received one email to acknowledge the order and another to inform me when the order was processed. Could have used a message when they shipped...but no harm done as they were so well packaged. Definitely will order again in the spring.
perenniallyme Jamaica Plain, MA (Zone 6a) (16 reviews) June 19, 2013
I'm sorry to report that my recent experience with Arrowhead was nothing like my last, when I spoke with Brigitta and she was very nice and helpful and I received reasonable plants.
My brother gave me a gift certificate and I could find no way to enter it by ordering online, so I called them and got an answering machine. I called 3 times and left messages over 4 or 5 days and no one returned my call until I got angry and left a message threatening to report them to the Better Business Bureau. I then received a call from Brigitta's son, who told me I would still have to order online. I again tried to order online, taking the 15 minutes or so to find the items again and put them in the shopping cart. Again I could find no way to pay with the gift certificate. Had I not had the gift certificate, I would have written them off entirely before it got this far. I called again and again spoke with Brigitta's son. He finally agreed to take my order by phone, but charged me extra for the epimedium that was supposed to be on sale, saying that the sale only applied to internet orders. By now I had spent many hours trying to place my order. This man obviously has no concept whatsoever of customer service.
My order arrived in a very small box and I was very disappointed with the very small size of many of the plants. A couple of them are still struggling to survive, though they've been planted for several weeks now. I will certainly never order from them again.
rebecca101 Madison, WI (Zone 5a) (25 reviews) May 30, 2013
I've placed several orders with Arrowhead and have been extremely pleased. They have an amazing selection (I got some rare epimediums and species peonies, among other things). The plants were all quite sizable for mail-order, well-rooted, healthy, and packaged well. Shipping was fast and not too expensive. They have become my go-to company for plants I can't find elsewhere.
Beautiful, healthy plants carefully packed. I've ordered from Arrowhead several times and have never been disappointed.
hairyjo Danville, CA (19 reviews) December 2, 2012
I am very happy with the 4 varieties of Campanula and Adenophora that I got this fall. I put them in good sized pots and will get around to planting them in my zone 8b garden in the next few weeks, but they are healthy and have green on them. They were shipped quickly and looked very good when they arrived. Shipping was more reasonable then some of the other on-line nurseries.
I have purchased maybe half a dozen plants from Arrowhead Alpines. Only one lived, and that one will take years to reach a decent size. Most arrived--and I do not exaggerate--significantly smaller than my thumb. All of this would be okay, if the company had provided some forewarning of what I should expect, how much care these minute specimens would require and how long it would be before they reached a garden-worthy size. I was willing to pay (what I consider to be) Arrowhead's high prices, because of its extensive selection of hard-to-find plants. Had I known the condition of the plants, I probably would have made a different decision. Perhaps that's why I got no forewarning . . . .
I'm sad to say that my experience with Arrowhead was not positive. The Lathyrus aureus that I was sent as a gift arrived poorly packed and dried out. They were also quite small. One was dead on arrival. I couldn't coax any growth out of it. Another died after planting and the last lives on as a very tiny seedling. My son reordered from another company and the Lathrus aureus from this company were easily 5 times larger and fully healthy.
Ispahan Chicago, IL (Zone 6a) (55 reviews) April 10, 2012
This company has an impeccably expansive selection of unusual plants. While researching unusual perennials for my new garden, there were several that I could only find from West Coast suppliers who wanted to charge an arm and a leg for shipping and others that I could find no where at all.
I was delighted to find Arrowhead Alpine's online plant listing which included almost all of the plants I had been searching for. I thought the prices and shipping to be very reasonable, as well as the fact that they offer quantity discounts for many of the plants in their catalogue. The latter aspect worked out very well for me since I needed at least 12 of each of the plants I was looking for.
Needless to say, I was expecting to receive very small seedlings in tiny pots given the rarity of many of the plants I ordered. I could not have been more wrong. All of the plants were very uniform, healthy and HUGE for the larger-than-expected pot sizes. All of them are bursting with growth and vitality.
I am extremely pleased and happy with my order and I would not hesitate to order from them again in the future if they have other plants I am looking for.
I agree. Seems like all the negative responses are from people expecting Brigitta to take care of the plants once they get to their destinations! And no, if you order a plant, YOU research it, get the proper care instructions and YOU take care of it. If you neglect it, or don't care for it properly and it dies, it's NOT Arrowheads fault!
*Very good point that mail order plants are notoriously small.*
That being said, I just recieved another order from Arrowhead, and the plants were huge for their pots size and in PERFECT condition. I took them out of the box, same day I got them and planted them in my gardens. I did not let them sit around for days. I TOOK CARE OF THEM RIGHT AWAY, and with proper, well researched care.
I wish people would be more responsible *for their own actions* and not blame others when they kill a plant. If you mail order a plant....BE PREPARED TO TAKE CARE OF IT when it arrives. That means to research the care it needs and have an area in your gardens prepared for it. AND DON'T BUY PLANTS THAT WONT DO WELL IN YOUR CLIMATE!
Another good idea is to instruct your mail carrier to place boxes in a designated area that get's no sunlight at all. Must be full shade. Because a box that sits in the sun, or sits in a mailbox in the sun, will cook just like it's in an oven. WHICH MEANS THE PLANTS INSIDE WILL COOK TO DEATH. To me, this is common sense, but seems like to some of you...probably rocket science.
Thank you Arrowhead Alpines for more beautiful, healthy, rare and unusual plants. :)
Have been ordering from Arrowhead Alpines for several years now & was able to make a live visit in the fall of 2010( while Bob was battling colon cancer). He & Brigitta were gracious hosts & spent considerable time with me.To the folks who gave AA a positive report I can say I totally agree with you. For the naysayers, I think that people have to realize that specialty mail order nurseries are not by necessity your local garden center or Lowes, etc. For one thing, plants are usually smaller & may just be taken from the greenhouse for shipping. Bob seldom listed zonal info which basically means that you had better do you homework to make sure you have some knowledge about the plant. And while you are at it check out the required growing conditions. I'm a plant collector & I know that many of the specialty plants that I collect will be small &may need a whole season to be bumped up in size before dropping them into the garden. Believe me I've had many die before I realized this. So buck up , do your research, learn some basic plant nomenclature & be prepared for a certain amount of failure. In other words become a serious gardener. I think you will realize what a treasure Arrowhed Alpines really is to gardeners. Bob ,I guess could be tought to deal with at times & I'm willing to bet that he had good reason at times. Sadly, he's gone from us now & will be missed by the many who knew him. Arrowhead Alpines is going forward. I just received two perfect orders from them this spring. Viva Arrowhead!!
First let me offer my most sincere condolences to Arrowhead Alpines (Brigitta and Ender) for the loss of a husband, father and great plantsman, Bob Stewart. I was greatful for many conversations (during non peak times naturally) The plant selection at Arrowhead is incomparable! I have several rare daphnes from their nursery that continue to thrive in my "daphentum". A couple more are on the way as of this writing. The staff is very gracious with their time and wisdom and I will continue to be a loyal customer.
This is not a company I could recommend nor would I choose to do business with them again. I concede they offer a fine selection of plants. I contacted them in 2010 about some iris I wished to acquire. They responded they were all available, at which time I placed an order. The iris arrived. One was in fact not available. The rest appeared healthy but were very small and 3 of them died in short order. I assumed responsibility and made no requests or comments in that regard. I did inquire about a refund for the iris they didn't send but had indicated was availble and was told a credit had been extended to my account. When I noted I had no plans to buy any further plant stock from them I received no response. Of the remaining 3 iris one has bloomed (in 2011) and is not the species ordered. My inquiry about this went unanswered. In consideration of the fact that they might simply be busy. I waited for a response and have inquired periodically. Still no response. I am a professional gardener of nearly 30 years, grow 1200 varieties of iris and hundreds of other perennials which I have acquired from all over North America and these plant sources stand behind their product and hold to high ethical standards concerning refunds and replacement of plants when the wrong variety or species has been shipped. Reluctantly I have to state that Arrowhead Alpines is terribly remiss in redressing this error and in my case has been blatantly unethical. I discussed the matter with a friend who had a somewhat similiar experience. What an unfortunate blemish on an industry I have always known to behave otherwise. Buyer beware.
Emma60 Grassy Creek, NC (Zone 6a) (8 reviews) January 2, 2012
Posted on January 2, 2012, updated January 2, 2012
I admit that Arrowhead Alpines does have an impressive plant list, but their plants are definitely hit and miss. I placed a large order last year (2010) - some plants were great; a few were not, and those died before I planted them. This fall I bought more, and when they arrived, some were in broken pots, some were out of their pots, and all were as dry as a bone. Some looked just plain dead - all brown and shriveled. They looked something that should be thrown away, not sold. I called the company, and the man who answered was not concerned - didn't apologize, didn't offer a refund - didn't offer advice. I was dumbfounded with his lack of response. I said I would email them photos of the plants. I did that and sent a follow-up email, and I received the rudest reply from the female owner I have ever received from anyone in my entire life. I was shocked. They must do a very good business to be able to alienate their customers this way. I asked them to remove me from their mailing list. Most of their plants can be found other places; those that cannot are probably not worth having anyway. I will not buy from this company again.On January 2nd, 2012, Emma60 changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Thanks to the member who informed me that Bob Stewart, owner of Arrowhead Alpines, died in mid-December, I have amended my rating to neutral. This company's rudeness to me may very well have been because because of Mr. Stewart's illness. My condolences go out to the family.
dave12122 East Haddam, CT (73 reviews) January 2, 2012
Posted on July 9, 2005, updated January 2, 2012
Arrowhead Alpines is somewhat of an enigma to me. I think the basic problem is if you take most genera, there are only a few really representative species/good doers; the rest may be of horticultural interest only or similar to the representative species. Draba, Acantholimon, and many bulbous genera come to mind immediately. However, Arrowhead basically lists everything, never mind if it's a poor grower, undistinguished, or just like another species listed. This is especially true of the minor bulb section, where many of the offerings are not on the general market for a good reason... they are weak growers, not hardy in the north, or otherwise unsatisfactory. Speaking of hardiness, zones are not listed, which weakens the catalogue and just reinforces the fact that the plants are grown in cool greenhouses, and thus may acclimate poorly to the garden. Most of the South African material is very dubiously hardy in an eastern zone 5-7, and there are even a few houseplants thrown in!! Heat hardiness is extremely important as well, and this topic is rarely broached. Arrowhead seems to believe if it's rare/rarely offered/monotypic it has to be good. Well, that is simply not true. Many rare plants are about as boring as watching paint dry...at least Arrowhead is honest about its "monotype fetish". I don't know what is so fascinating about a monotypic species myself, but there are certainly remote ones here for the taking, again never mind if they are any good. From my last order, Ipomea leptophylla promptly shriveled up (cool winds of May? it was grown in a greenhouse!), Indigofera pendula fried in the first minor dry spell (usually Indigoferas don't need a whole lot of water!) and Dionysia aretoides "Gravetye" browned up on a freak 98 degree day in June. I'm not saying that any of this is directly Arrowhead's fault, just pointing out how difficult it is to reestablish plants that have been grown "soft" in greenhouses. Certainly Arrowhead is not the only nursery to do this, but it is hard to make informed, intelligent decisions about plants when they haven't been truly hardiness tested. The species lilies they sent, by the way, were the smallest I've ever seen...no exaggeration to say they were about an inch high. Two of the stems had broken off at the base due to a large, heavy Yucca baccata being placed directly on top of them. In all fairness, these were replaced in my next order, with a note saying the broken ones would regenerate from the root. (guess what...they haven't) Even the new lilies are in suspended animation, and recently have begun to yellow, getting to a grand height of 2 inches their first year. I have no problem when seedling lily bulbs are offered, IF they are marked as such. The particularly lilies I ordered were quite expensive, and for the price I paid I would expect well established, blooming sized bulbs. What was sent to me wasn't even close to blooming size, and my guess is will take a few years to bloom...we shall see.
I think I would respect Arrowhead Alpines so much more if they utilized the "three year rule" before selling any plant....three years in the open garden with no protection or pampering in a cool greenhouse to see if the offering is a good doer or a weak species/hybrid not worth growing. I don't think it's asking too much to request that a nursery do its homework, rather than let the buyer "experiment" at his own cost. Look at the horticultural disasters that have infiltrated the market in the last 10 years...Coreopsis "Limerock Ruby", advertised as hardy to zone 5 yet a zone 7b plant!, Delosperma floribunda "Starburst", totally intolerant of a cold, wet, winter, yet incredulously advertised as hardy to zone 4! Arrowhead's catalogue contains a lot of weak growers, including many Saxifragas that would never in a million years do well in anything but a cool shady greenhouse with a lot of misting. If you have such a setting, go for it, but to try those very same Saxifragas in the "open garden" is tantamount to putting them directly on the compost pile. And so it is with rare Daphnes, some hardy orchids, etc. They are extremely fussy and have very exacting cultural requirements.
Arrowhead would emerge as a much stronger nursery if they would pare down their offerings to AT MOST 1,000 species and get away from the "if it has chlorophyll we'll list it" mentality. More is certainly not better in the plant world, and the more you garden, the quicker you realize how few species are really fabulous/unique/worth growing. One would have thought that basic fact would have dawned on Arrowhead by now, but watch, next year's catalogue will have even more species to tempt the unsuspecting with...Caveat Empator! On March 30th, 2008, dave12122 added the following:
I just placed a recent order with Arrowhead, hoping they have improved since my last order. Alas, my extensive earier comments have been further substantiated to such a degree I feel compelled to give a new report.
I ordered three forms of Cyclamen coum which the catalog descriptions were quick to point out were indeed quite different. What I received were two forms that were wholly indistinguishable, even to a Cyclamen expert, and a third that was a smidgin different (more green in the center of the leaf). Here, Arrowhead only needed to list one form...the other two would probably only be of interest to that hapless collector that has to have everything. And one could go through just about any genus listed and "slim down the pickins' with ease. Most of the Acantholimons listed are extremely close, being spiny cushions with pink flowers, the Primula allionis are virually indistinguishable when not in flower, and even the flowers on some hybrids are extremely close, etc.etc.
The color of the plants was that "greenhouse green", specimens that have obviously been grown in a soft, overfertilized manner. The soil appeared extremely rich and was entirely unsuitable for the Lewisia rediviva they sent, which only grows in sand beds in the East. The plants were very "ahead" of where they would be in the open ground, so it is going to be a real chore to acclimate them. Some may never recover from the shock of wind, rain, dew, and frost, in other words, the real world. In one case, a Roscoea humeana (?spelling), two of the dormant roots had rotted away and needed to be seperated from healthy tissue. Who knows if it will grow or not...time will tell.
I think any intelligent person gets the idea. Arrowhead lists far too many species that are similar to others, probably in an effort to get the die hard collector type to spend more money, gives the plants a very cushy life in a cool greenhouse, and practices very poor quality control. The person who wrote "the quality of Arrowheads offering is inconsistent" has my considerable respect, certainly more than a nursery that just wants to amass a laundry list of offerings, many of which are of dubious quality and poor doers in many gardens.On January 2nd, 2012, dave12122 added the following:
I regret to report that Bob Stewart passed away in mid December, 2011, after a courageous battle with stage 4 colon cancer. And while I still have misgivings about the garden worthiness and hit or miss quality of the plants Arrowhead Alpines sells, the fact of the matter is the man has died. I did not know him personally, and suppose it is unfair to judge him on a somewhat blunt phone personality alone. Those in the know have reported that Bob had a nice side and was an expert on the plants he wrote about, and I respect that. I can only offer my condolences to his wife Brigitta and son, Ender during this difficult time. Apparently, Brigitta is continuing the business, but there no longer will be a paper catalogue. Tony Avent wrote an excellent tribute to Bob as part of a recent Plant Delights Nursery newsletter which can be found elsewhere. RIP, Bob.
I began visiting Arrowhead several years ago. Years ago I got their catalog, but never ordered back then; Bob seemed like a pretty forbidding character, and I feared being raked over the coals for my ignorance if I had plant questions. Well, maybe he has mellowed, or perhaps I just have more courage than formerly, but three or four years ago I visited and ran into the man himself. He was initially a little crusty, but was very helpful and steered me away from a couple of appealing but difficult plants. Brigitta is always great. I have had mostly good experiences with their plants; some allowances have to be made for the fact that they stock many difficult plants. Their BAPs are, I feel, well worth the money. They are a small business and their time is at a premium, but generally someone always approaches me to offer help within a few minutes of my arrival. A great specialty nursery.
I just recently found Arrowhead Alpines and am so happy that I did. I ordered a difficult to find, abies balsamea nana, a dwarf balsam fir. It arrived quickly, in perfect condition and a very nice size. I will check with them first from now on when I need to new plants. Highly recommended.
owllantern Birmingham, MI (1 review) September 15, 2010
If you live within driving distance of Arrowhead Alpines, go there. The plants are just amazing. As are the owners, Bob and Brigitta Stewart, and their staff - they are very generous with their time and advice. They have lots of plants - especially shrubs and trees - that aren't listed in the catalog because they are too big to ship. But, they know how to fit quite a few of these big plants in a car, so, go visit, if you can. If you can't, order from them, as I have over the years and have always gotten healthy plants in good condition.
rkwright85 Horton, MI (Zone 5b) (4 reviews) August 13, 2010
I just made my first visit out there today and was very impressed. I have never seen a selection of daphne's that good anywhere. They offer plants at a lot of different sizes and prices. Compared to many nurseries I've visited (especially in Michigan) they had fair prices and excellent service. I've been to nurseries where the staff is obviously inexperienced and then tell you what you want to hear. Bob patiently and honestly answered my questions and even showed me how to grow and propagate some of them. Overall they have a great selection and the plants looked good too. I would recommend this nursery to anyone and look forward to going back myself.
These people have an amazing catalog that's now online, and when I discovered it over the winter I placed an order for about two dozen plants.
Being up in the cold north, they don't ship in the winter, so I had to wait until spring for my plants - they shipped exactly when they said they would, as far as I can tell.
The plants arrived in pots and well packed. Most of them filled out the pots very well - almost overgrown. A lot of them do come in 2.5" pots, but many of the plants are naturally small growing.
If I was to make one complaint it would be that the nursery containers they use are quite brittle, and I had to repot most of the plants received pretty much immediately because I tore some of the containers when I was unpacking the box.
Generally, I felt that the plants were more than worth what I paid for them, and I'd not hesitate to order from Arrowhead again.
pollyk Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a) (83 reviews) April 30, 2009
Received my order today from Arrowhead for species irises. The irises were potted, well packed, and in great condition. Very nice. Thank you,
I purchased two cultivars of Eryngium, as potted plants from this company. Both, notoriously difficult to germinate...
Both plants were received in great condition & well packed, so they arrived completely undamaged.
They had already started spring growth & appear quite healthy.
These are good sized perennials, too.
Overall, it was an excellent experience.
I was called about an error I made, after entering an incorrect expiration date of the Visa, online. But that was quickly & easily resolved after Bob called me.
So I can honestly say, it was great, personal customer service too, instead of some non-human automated response.
Thanks Bob & Brigitta!
I was very happy with our recent visit to Arrowhead Alpines for their "Summer Rocks" sale. Even though they outwardly appear to be unfriendly to children, I found that not to be the case at all. We took our four small children and they were having such a great time visiting the tortoise and poking the frog pond that it was hard to get them to leave. Besides all of that, the selection of plants is excellent! The plants, especially the evergreens, were in excellent shape. They really know their stuff. There were tags on 95% of the plants and it was pretty easy to find where things were located. Add to that the friendly and helpful staff and we are going back next year.
Last year I ordered many species Narcissus from Arrowhead that are very hard to find in the trade. The order arrived early fall, each bulb was potted individually which I thought a bit odd as I've never received spring blooming bulbs that way, but it was fine w/ me - I always pot or plant bulbs that have not bloomed for me either in separate containers or far apart enough in the ground that I can easily rogue the mis-named ones. So far 75% have bloomed and are correctly named and I am very happy! Really happy! I will order again. (These Narcissus were grown by Arrowhead from seed obtained through the Archibalds- at least most of them were, can't remember now.) Thank you, AA!
ic_conifers Iowa City, IA (Zone 5a) (14 reviews) April 17, 2008
My order arrived today from Arrowhead Alpines. I saw the boxes on the porch this morning and assumed that it was camping supplies my husand ordered, so I left for work and he went to bring the boxes into the house. About four blocks away, he called and said, "It is your order from AA!" (We were both excited waiting for the order.) Hubby took the plants out of the box, took a few teaser pictures that he emailed to me when he got to work, and scanned the packing slip for me.
I placed my order in January and did not receive a confirmation. I sent a letter to change one item two weeks after I sent in the order form. I wanted to cancel that item and substitute in another because I did not do enough research on the first item and it probably would not have made it in my zone (5a). In the letter, I also named a few substitutes, which I did not do when I sent in the order form. Again, no confirmation received, but I didn't sweat it.
EVERYTHING (14 conifers) that arrived was exactly what I wanted! Hubby did not completely unpack everything, but I suspect it will all be pristene. This company really deserves a better rating and reputation. Specialized professionals are eccentric; that is par for the course. The owners are very busy - they do not have time to send out confirmations of every communication customers send to them. They don't have an email address. I've dealt with many of the "hand-holding" companies and found that most of them have merchandise that cannot hold a flag to what arrived today from Arrowhead Alpines.
My qualification is that I ordered only conifers so I cannot attest to other items that they carry. For the future, though, Arrowhead Alpines will be my main source for conifers!!! Thank you Bob and Brigitta!!!On July 11th, 2008, ic_conifers changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
Well, I was very excited when my order arrived, but I feel I have to change my rating from positive to neutral after everything that happened since then. One plant died within four days of arrival, all the needles just fell off. Shortly after that, I found a worm/larvae on one conifer - turns out it was infested. A week later, I found evidence on a second that it was also infested and so that one went. One failed to thrive at all, the new growth just shrivelled and the plant started to lose all needles, so I saved myself the misery of watching needle by needle fall off and pulled it. One week after that, another died suddenly. Over the course of two months, I lost about half of the order, around $300 worth of plants. The ones that have made it (and appear fine) were those that were advertised as "older". Only two of the newer grafts survived - thankfully they were the most expensive of my order! I wonder if the shipping time, just as new growth was pushing, had something to do with the high mortality rate. One conifer person suggested the roots systems were to blame. I don't know what happened or why. I do know that I placed orders from two other companies this year and have not lost a single plant from either of those companies. I changed my rating to neutral because the plants that survived are nice and I felt I got a pretty good value on the older plants, which takes away some of the financial zing.
nevadagdn Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) (117 reviews) April 4, 2008
I received my order (my very first ever) from Arrowhead Alpines today. Everything is strong and healthy, and I'm quite pleased. In the interests of disclosure, I should point out that I am a hard-core plant nerd, a biologist and a very experienced gardener. I don't think that Arrowhead Alpines is a good supplier for "beginners"; the catalog and the selection of plants just aren't really meant for the Burpee crowd (nothing wrong with Burpee or its clients).
Even I found the catalog a little strange in spots, but I'll overlook a whole lot more strangeness than that to get the healthy, difficult-to-find plants I want. The plants came in pots ranging from 2 1/2" to one quart, and the plants appeared to have been in those pots for more than one growing season (none were rootbound or stressed, however). Even the smallest plant was worth what I paid for it.
What else could I want from this company? Bigger plants at lower prices, more selection, a free surprise plant or plants, a cute UPS deliveryman, a bar of chocolate with each purchase...in other words--Arrowhead fully met my high expectations, but I figured as long as I'm daydreaming...
beauxbeaux Harper Woods, MI (2 reviews) February 25, 2008
Arrowhead Alpines is without a doubt one of the best growers in the country. The diversity of species is perhaps unmatched anywhere. I would say, though, that it is best if you know what you are doing or at least are willing to learn.
Over the years, I've asked some "dumb" questions and have been responded to with snappy rejoinders. This only fed my eagerness to gain as much knowledge as possible before asking about "Cotton Easters" again. I appreciate being able to glean information from the people who actually have their fingers in the soil and not just a hired salesperson.
I hear the carping about USDA zone info lacking in the catalog. Good for them. I have perhaps 3 different zones in my yard that is considered zone 5. I was able to grow an Amorphophallus konjac outside next to the house last year with no protection, proving that you can create zones or simply find them with a little bit of study. Also, the weather is different every year in Michigan. A year ago, we had a zone 7 winter and perhaps a zone 6 this year, yet the maps remain unchanged from year to year.
Bob and Brigitta have always been approachable and willing to share their vast knowledge with me. Even with an enterprise the size of Arrowhead, either of them has always taken time to answer questions and point me in the correct direction. Bob just looks a bit imposing but he is really a nice guy and a gifted plantsman. Brigitta, seemingly as exotic as the plants she sells, is always matter-of-fact and "down to earth" regarding information about a plant in question. These are awesome people and I hold them in high regard.
Sure, I have had plants die "been there, killed that" but it was usually my own doing. For instance, the dionysia gravetye requires nearly impossible conditions, but I keep trying. The idea of reducing inventory, put forth in a previous response is ridiculous and so is the guy affronted by the Pink Lady's Slipper. The fact that the plant is being grown means that it also is being conserved. I think there was an idea about "reducing inventory" a few years back in Germany. The plants are always high quality, even when I don't pick them out myself and have them shipped.
Anyway, thank you Bob, Brigitta and the gang for providing the best and hardest to find plants at reasonable prices.
Found a plant, Pinus leucodermis 'schmitii' that I couldn't find anywhere else in the country. Came well packed at a fair price and good size for the price. Tree is growing well. Probably the nursery is best for rare and hard to propagate plants.
What is wrong with the public? A 67% rating for a company that should have a 110%? I have been shopping at Arrowhead Alpines for years. I could wander around that place (and have!) for hours and hours. Greenhouse after greenhouse of healthy, well-cared for plants that you CANNOT find anywhere else. Reasonable prices and fantastic new plants. When I read comments that say they should downsize their catalog and only grow about 1000 plants, I could just explode!!! THEY should downsize because YOU cannot be bothered to educate yourself on the culture of a particular plant. Are you kidding me? All you have to do is ASK them! How about this, since you are on the web anyway, why not just type in the name and click? Google is a powerful tool, my friend. I have a yard full of the most interesting trees, shrubs and perennials that anyone could ask for. This is completely due to Arrowhead Alpines. I have a collection of hellebores that I challenge anyone to beat and a drift of cyclamen that would take your breath away. I've bought too much to list. Let's be clear about one thing here. These folks are passionate about what they do and it shows. I just hate when good people and businesses get a raw deal and that's why I just had to post something. Please give this company a shot. You will not be disappointed.
Anyone heard of Paxil. This guy is a joke. Please spend your time on anything else. I think he took a little to "much" one of those times. We all know that consistancy is crucial especially when shipping. There are a lot of other places to get those "rare" items. He will eventually put himself out of business.
I enjoy visiting Arrowhead because of the great variety of plants there. But the quality is hit or miss. Just bought three cephalotaxus in gallon pots this spring. But when I planted I saw that two of them had just just been potted up from quart size pots. All three were planted in the same area. The two that had quart size roots began to die immediately. The third is looking beautiful.
Arrowhead had a no refund rule. In fact if you read their catalog, it basically tells you to bugger off if you have any complaints. I called them about my cephalotaxus, but they didn't make an exception for me.
I had a similar bad experience with a serbian spruce in 2005.
I will continue to visit arrowhead. But if I purchase anything, it will be a low cost item that is not going to be a major feature in my yard.
judith Clarksville, VA (Zone 7a) (3 reviews) April 26, 2007
My best friend gave me gift certificates to two nurseries for Trillium. I chose Arrowhead Alpines and Paul Christian Rare Plants for the particular plants I needed. Both orders arrived and both sets of plants looked good. The big difference was that the AA plants bloomed!
When one, a picotee sulcatum broomed out a gorgeous purple red instead of picotee I photographed the plant and send a copy to the webmaster with a note. I did not complain, since I also own a nursery and I know all too well that in the Spring Rush S**t Happens. In a very short time a packaged arrived, a pot containing an absolutely lovely blooming picotee Trillium sulcatum. Thank you Arrowhead Alpines for excellent service. Judith Knott Tyler
I hate to be negative about anyone, especially a nursery that offers so much that is unavailable elsewhere. And, despite my bad experience, I do continue to order from Arrowhead year after year. They have stuff you just can't get elsewhere and there is always something new. But that said.....One of my complaints is the highly unpredictable quality of plants recieved. For example, in last year's order I got several ferns that were incredibly large and robust plants for the price. But some of the most expensive items were disappointingly small and weak. For the price charged, they might have kept the plants for another year or two and grown them on to a viable size; then charged even more and gotten customer satisfaction. These small plants were often ridiculously overpotted and had spilled out of the pots along with plenty of partly composted bark in shipment. One plant in particular, which cost over $40 and was advertised in the catalog as "very large" and having 10-25 growing eyes, arrived in a 4" pot and careful exploration revealed only 5 viable growing points. I thought I should call about that one. Well, I was treated with extreme rudeness by the owner, which, reading the catalog, I should have expected. The acid remarks in the catalog regarding "stupid" customers and heaping scorn on those who dare to shop at Arrowhead telegraphs the attitude. I was astonished to read the comments by visitors to the nursery and others who have talked to this "Bob" person on the phone. He sounds as if he has rather serious mood swings. Finally, the catalog. Some of the "descriptions" of plants are entirely uninformative. The attempts at humor are nearly always lame and often offensive. I've written articles for gardening magazines reviewing catalogs, and the Arrowhead catalog scores very low on all counts. But "Bob" is obviously very proud of his efforts. We could put the blame on Tony Avent, the originator of the wise-guy catalog, but Tony is actually a nice fellow, who, running a much bigger operation than "Bob," always has time to be courteous to his customers. So the bottom line is--this place is only for advanced gardeners who have a high tolerance for truly awful customer service.
Chills Saint Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6b) (20 reviews) April 15, 2007
I went to the nursery this weekend and it was everything I expected. The selection was nothing short of phenominal and everything looked healthy and well tended. I met the owner and his wife and they were gracious and genuinely interested in making sure my visit was worthwhile and productive.
I would recommend waiting until their shipping season is over, and the weather warms up a little as there is too much to completely explore when you are being rushed along by numbing fingers and toes. I will be making another drive out later in the season and I can't wait to see how the nursery changes once they have put out all the material they keep in production areas while they fill all mail orders.
declfi Fenton, MO (Zone 6b) (30 reviews) March 18, 2007