I drove an hour and half to get to the nursery after reading some of the reviews posted here. I did my homework by visiting the web site and making a list of potential plants that I wanted to purchase. When I got to the nursery, I was a little overwhelmed by what I perceived to be a huge lack of organization. When I arrived, no one met me or asked if I needed help to find anything. I had to go ask around and find someone to help me locate specific items on my list. There were no signs for designated areas or a site map to tell me what was what, and I found myself aimlessly wondering the site. I was frustrated.
Once I found someone (Tina) to help me, I asked for a price list because none of the plants were price labeled. She explained that the prices on the print-out were the shipping prices which were normally for tiny seeling trees. To get the "real" price of a larger tree, one had to add about 5 dollars for every six or seven inches of tree height. So basically I had to guess for pricing. I was further frustrated.
This was NOT the excellent service that I had read about and driven so far to receive. Basically I got the impression that I was being a burden to the busy nursery staff.
That aside, the plants looked healthy and I was bound and determined to buy a few things after driving the distance. So I loaded up my little wagon and found the check-out building (although I really had no idea what my plants were going to cost me). Tina checked me out by looking at each plant and saying, "oh this a good one, that's a tall one, and you picked out some strong plants!" Then she told me the price which I thought was a little high (compared to Lowes or Home depot), but not outrageous.
The one positive about my experience was that they had plants that I haven't been able to find at some of the commercial stores. That being said, I will probably not return to Shooting Star.
On May 4, 2009, Shooting Star Nursery responded with:
"On May 6, 2009 2:05 PM, Shooting Star Nursery responded with:
Before replying to our recent negative rating on this web site; I wanted to sleep on it. We have always been a shipping company first and foremost; the most important aspect to us is healthy plants. Our plants have such diverse needs, we have to over winter them grouped together according to their needs, not ours. Once we catch up with shipping plants to spring customers, (some having waited months for their plants to get to them at planting time) we get more organized.
We have added limited retail sale days just in the last few years because our customers have requested them, but we always welcome and encourage them to make an appointment if individual guidance and design help is needed.
What appears as a complete disaster of organization on our part; pretty much actually is! We are currently growing over 1000 different plants and we have them spread out everywhere. We grow our own plants; meaning we have many stages of the same plant, from seedling to one of several years of age. This number can range in the hundreds for each stage of each plant and again this means grouping each plant stage together according to their needs (shade, sun, and water) not ours. To make things more difficult most plants needs change as they mature; this means a new grouping in a different part of the nursery. (Yes we are constantly moving plants around.)
I agree, we need to have better signage for our plants. We do have for most of them and are doing our best to get them out on the plants. Pricing on trees is difficult, that is my fault, there just has not been time to go out and mark each plant. No matter what you hear about permanent markers, they only last about 3 to 6 months then fade into obscurity.
As many small business owners try to be competitive with big box stores, especially with pricing, I have to be honest and say we just cannot compete.
The working people at Shooting Star are the best that anyone could ever hope for. As far as I am concerned we all own this little place together and it shows in their enthusiasm and enjoyment to be here, working in all kinds of weather. I am afraid it is just a fact that we cannot wait on every customer for the whole time they are at the nursery when we are open for retail sales. We do our best to check back with them, some need more help than others. We encourage making an appointment for those that know they will need individual attention. Many customers do not want our help; they would rather explore for awhile then get back to us. I can only assume that is what happened in your case. I greatly apologize for any perceived slight; that is certainly not what we are about.
On Oct 13, 2007, Cearbhaill Russell, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:
It's difficult for me to decide how to rate Shooting Star, so it had to be neutral by default.
The plants were small.
I know on the homepage it states the 3½-4½" container size so the size of the plants should be understood beforehand, but some of my plants were small even for that. A few of them (the Roseshell and Carolina Azaleas and the Redbud "trees") should have been labeled "rooted cuttings" because that is what they are- small rooted cuttings.
So on the positive side they are very cheap and a good variety of hard to find native plants. Marie was more than helpful to me and responded quickly to email questions even after I expressed my concerns with plant sizes.
Shipping was extremely fast and the packaging was done very well. I am happy that a nursery is interested in preserving our natives and providing me with a source so I want to support them with my business.
But all of these positives were tempered by my extreme disappointment when I saw the plants themselves. I've shopped online for plants for years and these were by far the smallest and raggediest I have ever received. It was a fair amount of money for such a small pile of plants- I just stood there wondering how I was going to justify the cost to my husband.
If everything lives I will come back and perhaps change or ammend my comments. But when we plant some of these plants this weekend we are going to have to cage them simply to remember where they are and not mistake them for weeds.
So order in good faith but understand that you will could possibly receive very tiny cuttings.
On April 30th, 2008, Cearbhaill changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Update Spring 2008- a large percentage of my tiny plants did not survive the winter. I notified Shooting Star Nursery in the hopes that they would at least offer me a credit of some sort on replacement plants, even offering to buy additional items to help offset the shipping and other costs. I never received the courtesy of a reply.
With the plethora of good vendors who actually stand behind their plants, I see no need to spend any more money with those that do not. This is a huge disappointment to me as I had hoped to do an entire garden of natives.
Guess not.On Oct 13, 2007, Shooting Star Nursery responded with:
On Oct 13, 2007 11:01 AM, Shooting Star Nursery added:
Dear Cearbhaill, Sorry that you did not like your plants! Yes they are small, but none were reproduced from cuttings; all were grown from seed. The Azaleas were over three years old, short (5" aabove ground) well rooted but multibranched and fully leaved out. Because the redbud were small, which I said they would be, giving exact height to the customer when ordering, we sent an extra plant at no charge. They were all well rooted in their pots. (They grow very rapidly and should be several feet tall next year.) The time and care involved to get some of these plants to a size that will grow on for our customers is certainly not reflected in our prices. Cheep is a word that is never used here, we try to make our plants accesable for those who do want to use natives. The image of someone opening a box and being disapointed is a hard image to shake, that is not our intent. We want every one to be as excited and pleased to receive as we are to send them. Marianne"
I ordered an Allegheny serviceberry which was beautiful and sturdy and doing fine after being planted.
Two out of three of the wild ginger I ordered are likewise thriving.
The other wild ginger was DOA.
The two Solomon Seal I ordered arrived with their main stems broken, and rapidly died.
The plants didn't seem to have been packed securely. It's entirely possible that this is only a mail-order problem. I regret giving such a negative review, becuase the woman was so friendly on the phone. However -- an almost 50% failure rate is pretty dismal.
On May 30, 2006, Shooting Star Nursery responded with:
On Dec 28, 2006 4:21 PM, Shooting Star Nursery responded:
I was disappointed to see potawotami's rating on this order. We get so busy in the spring that I did not have time to review your web site, which I wish I had. Please call if an order is not what you expect when it arrives. We will work with you. Shipping can indead be hard on plants and we do try to package them to survive the journey, but every so often they just do not make it. I hope you try again potawotami and please mention your order. I have pulled it and have it out by the phone. Marianne"