I give High Country Gardens a thumbs-up.
Plants weren't exactly on the large size, but were comparable to those from other mail-order companies that I've ordered from.
Plants were well-rooted and are doing fine in my garden.
Shipping costs are low at HCG compared to other places - makes a nice change!
Just placed my second order (above rating based on order from 1-2 months ago), hopefully I'll be just as satisfied.
I've ordered plants and bulbs from several companies all over the US. I was indeed impressed with the quality of the plants that I received from High Country Gardens. Also, I requested my order at a certain time, and received it precisely on time. I also received instructions on how to plant my plants and preparation for the different seasons.
I had to contact the company regarding my order I received. I contacted the company by email. I received a prompt response and was very satisfied with my answer.
I plan on doing a lot of business with this company in the future. The fact that I live in Monument, CO where it's high and dry country. This is the perfect company for me!
On Sep 27, 2005, nelledoor Lavina, MT (Zone 4a) wrote:
Happy customer here - I've ordered from HCG for 2 or 3 years and am absolutely amazed at the strength of their plants. They have a great development program. I'm impressed with the packaging and I don't believe I've ever lost a plant (I've spent $100.00+ each year). Love their catalog and the information. My plants have actually gotten bigger the first season than HCG said they would, so I appreciate their modesty. I work in a retail nursery in Montana and tend to order things we don't have available - and I do understand what a tough business retail sales can be - sometimes things do go wrong, - but you can TRY for a high standard, and I feel HCG does make the attempt on a consistent level.
On Jul 20, 2005, ladyisle Bohemia, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:
I discovered this nursery perhaps a year ago and placed an order for about 20 hardy Plumbago from their beautiful and helpful catalog, (I dislike hype w/o substance). Not initially impressed with the size of the plants; I am quite amazed at how lush and full they look now, in one season. Every plant has thrived with no special care other than ensuring the soil stayed moist.
I placed another order this spring for Bush Sage, Flax, Giant Yellow Columbine, and another plant that I can't remember the name of. They were small also, but well packed as before, and have already grown considerably, and flowered as well.
My personal experience has been that smaller plants (with healthy root systems) establish themselves much better when transplanted than larger plants. Less work too.
Great selection, quality and service-can't ask for more.
On June 3rd, 2006, ladyisle added the following:
I just want to say that all the plants listed above have almost TRIPLED in size, and are blooming profusely-(the ones that are supposed to bloom now,that is). I placed and received another order this year, and everything arrived healthy, as always. I love their packing because it is so efficient, and relatively mess and waste free. HCG has a very satisfied, repeat customer-as long as I have room for new plants;which will be a long time.
I have ordered from HCG on and off for several years. The catalog is lovely and they have a good selection of native plants. Plant size is as described in catalog, (quite small). The plants that I have ordered have all been well packed for shipment and had good to very good root systems. When planted in the proper location in my northern heavy clay soil, the original small plants have established themselves well by the following year. I have recommended and continue to recommend HCG to others, and expect to order from them again.
We ordered from this catalog for the first time this year. The catalog is beautiful and they have an awesome selection. However, we also felt that our plants were small and not well-rooted and I think this is the reason that a couple did not survive and the others are slow to become established.
On May 26, 2005, littlekitty Farmington, AR wrote:
I recently ordered some agastache, artemisia and prairie dropseed from HCG excited that I could not find the exact plants I was looking for from any other source. I loved the idea that their catalog descriptions were very informative and the plants were ideal for xeriscaping and deer and critter resistant. The plants arrived quickly, well packed and I was informed the day they were shipped.
But I cannot say I would order from this company again. The plants were not only small but very very tiny. I have heard others remark that the plants were small but had well developed root systems. This was not true in the plants I received. Also, one of the artemisia was brown and crunchy, but it did have a little green showing, so I planted it anyway. Time will tell if it survives.
I have given HCG a neutral rating for the tiny plants, undeveloped root systems, and the HIGH prices in comparison to other companies that I have ordered from.
On August 12th, 2005, littlekitty added the following:
The artemisia I ordered in May is still alive but is all of one inch tall and not growing at all. The other 2 artemisia I ordered at the same time are thriving as well as the agastache and prairie dropseed.My rating remains the same although I do find myself drawn to their website and waterwise plants.
On May 24, 2005, norska Ellicott City, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:
I ordered three agave and a yucca from HCG. The plants arrived very quickly, in less than 10 days, and were very well packaged. But I was concerned about their size, as another reviewer said previously.
I just repotted one agave last night, and the root system on it is fantastic! I was wondering why the plastic pot seemed like it was bulging - I think the Queen Victoria was getting ready to break out and search for a larger pot by itself! I was VERY impressed, considering what you normally get with cacti and succulents (like at big box stores, where it looks like someone did a cutting and plopped it in a pot just before putting it on the shelf - what roots??) Then I read the reviews on GW and see a company rep explaining their agave plants. I can't wait to get the other three planted in my garden!
My experience with HCG spans 7 years, and many orders later, my garden is absolutely beautiful. I have never lost a single plant, and each shipment arrives in good condition. The rubber bands are easy to cut off (why would anyone wrestle off a rubber band instead of just cutting it off?) and the bags help the soil to stay where it belongs during shipping.
Even if the tops look a little travel weary, the roots are strong, and they are usually full-size by the beginning of the second season in my heavy clay infested yard. I imagine some folks kill theirs with kindness, assuming by their initial impression that the plant is suffering. Put 'em in the ground, water them in, and leave them alone! You can't believe the conditions they can endure. A little ride on a UPS truck is nothing!
I have friends in Albuquerque and travel down from Denver several times per year. At least once every summer I stop in Santa Fe to see the HCG display gardens and check out the green houses. What a beautiful place! Everyone is so friendly.
During the past 40 years of gardening, I have always enjoyed mail ordering my hard-to-find selections. I was very pleased to discover HCG, because they have been the best by far for quality and cost. This company does it right!
On May 2, 2005, lego_brickster Lawrenceville, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:
This is the first time I have used HCG, and I just received my order. Overall a positive experience, however I will point out these issues:
The plants are tiny. Granted they all arrived in good health and were as described in their catalog. However I was shocked to have paid $6 for an agave measuring no more than one inch tall, and having only four leaves. The other plants I ordered were all equally small.
I am not fond of their practice of rubber-banding the plastic bag around the stem of the plants for shipping. Agreed that the plants did arrive intact, but it made unpacking very difficult and hard to wrestle the rubberband back off without hurting the plant.
To end on a positive note, there was ample notice via email when the order was going to arrive. I like that they sent the tracking number to me so I could know which day to be home to get the package.
On August 11th, 2005, lego_brickster changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
A 90 day replacement period is far too short. My own fault I suppose, for not calling in for replacements sooner, but life sometimes gets busy.
Every plant from my order this year (with exception of that one tiny but very well rooted agave) has died.
We had to keep them indoors longer than we thought - we had some late freezes this year - and one by one they just shriveled up without ever putting out a single new leaf.
I want to give High Country the benefit of the doubt, but with a near 100% mortality and no more than 90 days to report it, it's hard to see them positively.On May 2, 2005, High Country Gardens responded with:
On May 4, 2005 12:49 PM, High Country Gardens added:
Thank you for the positive rating. All of us at High Country Gardens pride ourselves in providing the best plants, shipping and customer service.
Agave's are slow growing native plants that are often not as impressive in pots as other more vigorous non-native plants like Shasta daisies. After reading the comment about our Agave, Inge, our senior cacti grower, wanted to communicate that our crop of Agave parryi have taken 24 months of careful care to get from seed to shipping size. She added, "look at the root system."
For many native plants and large tap rooted perennials, the quality of the plants are in the well developed root system not the top growth. Strong healthy roots are the key for a plant to successfully transplant and thrive in the garden.
I have ordered from this company on several occasions. I ordered a columbine early this spring which was delivered in great shape. About the same time i emailed HCG to tell them a columbine i ordered last year had not survived and i was disssapointed. Somehow in the the translation i confused them, so they replaced the columbine from last year and also sent a second columbine that i ordered this year. I felt bad so i called and told them i would gladly pay for the columbine, they said to keep it, not a problem. I have found many companys that wont even answer an email let alone replace a year old plan. HCG was more than willing to replace it even when i felt i had caused the confussion. They will continue to get my buisness.
I have ordered from High Country Gardens a few years now, and am happy to report they are getting better and better! Plants are larger and establish faster, and the overall catalog is astonishing in its variety! The only unfortunate thing is that the zone ratings are often not accurate for cold slushy wet Eastern winters. (I'm in Connecticut!) For example, the plants below have never survived in my Zone 6b climate, even though some are rated hardy to zone 5 by HCG:
and many other plants that are truly xeric simply can't handle 40 inches or more of rain per year. So, read the catalog carefully if you live in the eastern states. The following plants have been excellent performers in my zone 6 garden:
Great company, great plants. I love their "Swallowtail" Columbine! Unfortunately, it is gracefully growing in the yard of the house I recently sold. However, I have been busy planting and preparing the garden beds of my new house, and I have found the perfect spot for some more "Swallowtail" Columbine plants.
On Apr 14, 2005, NellieLemon Kirksville, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:
I placed a large order and received them on time. The plants were quite small but grew quickly and by the second year they were very large and healthy (except the broom which is still small). Overall I was pleased with the quality of the plants.
I just ran across an article about HCG in the Chicago Sun Times and visited their site shortly thereafter.
I ordered prior to reading the GWD reviews which is just as well.
I found their site to be relatively painless to navigate and order from. What hooked me for an - immediate order - was the availability of Agave and cactus that would be hardy to my zone5.
I will update the comment and rating upon receipt of my agaves and cactus sched.
On May 13th, 2005, 8ftbed changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
Plants shipped and arrived as requested.
Yes they are quite small but were in great shape.
Only the cactus had all of the medium knocked out of the tiny pot and it was basically bareroot.
On Mar 15, 2005, nrynes Colorado Springs, CO wrote:
Yes, these guys are a little more expensive than some of the cheapo mail order places, but the quality of their plants, selection, and customer service have been outstanding. Plus they offer plants geared toward growing in the Rocky Mountain West...not too many mail-order nurseries anything even remotely drought tolerant out here!!
I've ordered from them several times and have been very pleased. Plants are usually on the small side in the spring, but grow very quickly once their roots are established. Even plants they warn you are slow-growers tend to grow quickly (Like Fallugia paradoxa). If ordering their drought-tolerant plants, it's helpful to have a smattering of experience with native plants so you understand how to care for them. Don't overwater the first year, and don't under-water!! Also, order plants appropriate to your climate and soil...as much as I drool over them, some of the very xeric penstemons just don't do well in my clay soil. Order with intelligence and put the plants in appropriate places in your garden.
I have enough experience with gardening to know that not 100% of everything I buy will survive (and definitely not 100% of what I grow from seed survives!!). But I've only lost one plant from HCG out of the couple hundred that I've ordered...and that one was a penstemon that I knew would be marginal to my climate and soil. Plants from other nurseries don't fare quite as well (although there is one nursery in north Denver that rivals HCG for the quality of their Xeric plants).
My only "complaint" :) with them is that they don't offer enough hardy or old garden roses...but then again, there are already a bunch of places out there that offer those. I'd like to see them offer Harison's Yellow or Austrian Copper at the very least.
I like being able to reserve what plants I want ahead of time, instead of sifting through whatever local nurseries have decided they want to order. HCG does not ship their plants in little plastic baggies with rubber bands - they are wrapped in paper and packed well for the trip. Mine have always arrived on Thurs or Friday, in time for weekend planting. No breakage and no soil spillage. Oh, and as others have said, they have an excellent catalog and website that make great reference material.
So far I've been very happy with HCG...I'll update this post again after I receive this spring's order...
On Mar 2, 2005, barefootgardens Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:
I've ordered well over $800.00 in plants form this company, landscaping my own yard as well as a friends, and I have been extremely pleased with the company. In fact, even though I get tons of gardening catalogs in the mail, this is the only mail order plant company I will buy from.
it's true the plants are small, but they all have been strong, and the columbines (my favorites) are 4 - 5 times the shipping size by the end of the growing season.
I think their plant selection is incredible, and I'm always impressed at their continual improvements of old favorites.
Shipping has always bene reliable. I needed to contact Customer Service once and had an awesome experience. No troubles, ever with anything.
I have in fact a combination of plants that draws comments from walker-bys constantly! Margerita-bop penstemons next to Shades of Mango Agastache and wow, the colors are so intense they glow in the twilght. BTW I live in Utah so xeriscape is a must.
I'm completely excited for spring & am gearing up for this season's spring planting. Everything I put in my yard will be 98% High Country Gardens! =)
I have ordered plants from High Country Gardens for the last seven years spending close to $100 each year. They have an incredible selection. Although the plants are quite small when the arrive, and don't do much the first year, by year two they are great. Since many of the plants have special requirements I have had trouble growing some of the them. I many times try the difficult to grow ones a second and even third time, before I will give up. Many have been worth the trouble. It is hard to find interesting and unusual plants that will grow in the Rocky Mountain west, and High Country gardens is one of the few places where you can find these types of plants.
I've ordered from HCG twice and have been quite happy with all the live plants. They are generally larger and shipped in a secure carton that minimizes damage. It is true that many of the selections are suited best for the more arid western states, but these are clearly noted in the catalogue as are best types of soil.
One of the delights of HCG are rare and unusual varieties that are especially uncommon here in NY. I had an eight foot sunflower (Maximillian's?) that was a real showstopper in late fall.
The Spring catalogue is already marked in anticipation.
"THANKS" for all of the wonderful guidance and plant ideas I have received over the past few years. I have naturalized a ten acre area north of Belgrade, MT so that I might have flowers all summer and provide food to attract butterflies, bees and birds. We have a fairly harsh climate with -40 winters and +100 some summers and the need for xeriscape is critical due to a silt-clay soil which hardens up in late summer. Last summer we shot and trapped over 500 Richardson's ground squirrels; drowned out pocket gophers and have deer now and then wander through, so your guide to "critter proof" plants has been indespensible for my SANITY as I have struggled to find compatable plants. My latest garden has been an expanding of iris varieties which seem to be bomb-proof. Flax, sages, yarrows, coreopsis and gallardia have done fantastic! Your xeriscape newsletters on line have confirmed much of what I have learned the hard way as I grew up gardening in Wyoming wind and continue to experiment here in Montana.
Last spring I ordered lamium Red Nancy, nepeta and stachys macrantha. All arrived in good shape and are going strong. I'm a big fan of lamium but have struggled with several different varieties trying to keep it alive, and the Red Nancy is by far the most vigorous I've got. It's still alive after some bitterly cold nights. I'm looking forward to spring to see if my muscari comosum plumosum (the fluffy ones) will bloom; I expect so based on past experience. I also really appreciate the catalog comments on growing conditions and what's right for what areas.
I ordered from them last year. What a good idea for a small company - to focus on xeriscaping plants, especially (but not limited to) natives of the N. American west. Catalog was gorgeous - not cheap, but I like to support small companies, and they carried a lot of rare plants. Minimum order of 6 plants, so I ordered a native columbine, a shrub, two non-native lamiums, and two asclepias tuberosa that were advertised as specially adapted to clay soil.
Everything arrived okay, and I was very pleased that the leader of the shrub had been bent over rather than chopped off. But the asclepias looked diseased. Left in pots in the sun to 'recover' they greened up a bit but were still obviously infected with a virus. I called the company, spoke to a nice person, and later received two replacement asclepias - which showed identical symptoms of the same virus. All 4 went into the trash. I didn't call the company again. The columbine looked healthy so I put it into a border; but later in the summer all the other plants around it began showing signs of severe viral infection - mottled and striated leaves, distortion in new leaf growth, chlorosis, death. I am concerned that this company may be sending out infected stock. Their catalog is tempting, but I will not order from them again.
On Jan 3, 2005, High Country Gardens responded with:
"Written by David Salman, President of High Country Gardens and professional horticulturist with a B.S. degree in Horticultural Science from Colorado State University.
We take great exception to these unsubstantiated and untrue (and frankly malicious) accusations. Our company prides itself in growing top-quality quality plants and offering our customers the best possible customer service. This person is obviously not a plant pathologist and makes statements that have no scientific basis and show a lack of understanding about plant viruses. To confirm the presence of an injurious virus, tissue samples have to be tested at a qualified tissue culture lab.
High Country Gardens has never had injurious viral problems in our plants. We grow all the plants we sell. We use the most up-to-date horticultural practices to keep our plants free of insect vectors, keep only clean, healthy stock plants and maintain excellent sanitation in all of our production and propagation methods. We are regularly inspected by the state of New Mexico Dept. of Agriculture whose inspectors are looking for injurious insects and plant diseases.
Regarding these unsubstantiated and untrue accusations:
Asclepias tuberose is a slow growing, highly variable native plant that is often not as pretty in the pot as other more vigorous non-native plants like Shasta daisies. It must be planted in the garden and given a full growing season to establish its large tap root and to push out strong, full-sized shoots and foliage. Our healthy Asclepias plants are grown from field grown seed purchased from a very reputable native seed supplier.
Regarding the healthy Columbine plant (showing no signs of any disease problem) somehow infecting the plants surrounding it with virus; not possible! In all likelihood, this person has overlooked other problems that are causing their established plants to be in poor health. These could be due to injurious insects attacking the plants, an infestation of leaf or soil nematodes, a nutrient deficiency in the soil or soil-borne diseases not at all related to alleged viral problems.
I live in Denver and I've used HCG several times with good to very good results. Their prices may seem high but the plants tend to
be very good quality and they have always replaced plants that
didn't make it per their policy. They even I think sell wholesale
to a few local nurseries(Timberline Gardens comes to mind) so
I can often get their stock locally. The catalog is educational and
fun to peruse on a cold winter night! I would also commend David
Salman for his efforts to promote xeriscape and ecologically wise
gardening. I've been to several of his free lectures in the Denver area. My only issue with HCG is that they have these somewhat rigid shipping dates which block out parts of the summer. I
see nothing wrong with planting in the heat of July as long as
the proper steps are taken to establish a plant.
Just received another great order from HCG, my 8th in 8 years. I only order in fall and always pot my plants up in 1 gallons before setting them out in the garden the following spring. The selection is excellent, really plants that cannot be found in my local nursery that caters to more well watered gardens than mine. Good resource for gardeners just starting to be interested in xeric gardens!
Only comment, wish we could just order one or two plants, wish they would change the 6 plant minimum.
Great company, great plants, much improved shipping boxes!
Granted, the prices are pretty high. Because I live nearby, I've not ordered from them. As such, I've had no problems with plant quality or availability, as I inspect before buying. Everything I've bought from them has grown well. This is a busy retail outlet, with helpful (if busy) staff. There is a xeriscape model garden on-site, which is very helpful in considering what to plant. (After all, you can't smell anything in a catalog!) If you find yourself in the Santa Fe area, it's worth stopping in.
On Aug 27, 2004, kareoke Greensburg, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:
I just recieved my first order from this company, everything was packaged very good, none of the plants were damaged, the plants were nice sized as promised on the website, I will definately order from them again
The plethora of wonderful customer comments posted on this site are a testimonial to the top quality plants and exceptional customer service from our company, High Country Gardens, The recent comment from kburkhardt is unfair and inaccurate. This person has not had any contact with our company since 1993 and is not in a position to comment on the quality of our plants and service.
My experience was similar to others described here, including small plants, broken stems, dead and mushy, expensive, with the added problem that when I called to request reshipment I had to leave a message because they weren't answering their phones. A man called back, but I was in the garden up to my elbows in mud. I told my daughter to ask him if I could call him back after I'd cleaned up, and he started shouting at her. I then took the phone, mud and all, and told him I couldn't talk until I washed the mud off my hands, and he started shouting at me, screaming about how his time was valuable, and I was the one that contacted them, and if I wanted help I was going to have to talk to him right then. It was very scary, he sounded insane. I asked to speak to the owner, and he said he WAS the owner! NEVER NEVER NEVER AGAIN.
On Jul 12, 2004, KillerChihuahua Merritt Island, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
Wonderful experience! I was planning to order a Rosemary Irene from another company, but they were sold out. Found that High Country Gardens not only had it, their price was lower! Their online catalog is clear, detailed, and easy to navigate and use, and loaded with information. Ordered the rosemary, some thyme, and some thyme leaf speedwell. All plants arrived looking like the nursery was across the street. Really pretty, healthy plants, well packed. All are doing incredibly well - the strong root systems were in such good shape there was no transplant stress at all, even planting in June in Florida. I will definitely order from these people again.
On Jul 5, 2004, ncpepper Pilot Mountain, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:
Great selection of plants. Although somewhat for the drier areas of the country, there are also a lot of plants that will grow well in other parts of the country. The catalog has a great guide for growing conditions, and plants I ordered are thriving in hot, wet conditions.
Plants are small but healthy. Everything I purchased in the spring is blooming. Shipping right on time.
Definitely will order again, as there are plants I must have!
On Jun 17, 2004, bibbykitty San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
I ordered four agastache plants early this month. I received the order in less than a week after I placed it.
I am very pleased with the plants They got here in wonderful condition. I would recommend High Country Gardens to anyone. They have quality plants packaged well
and shipped at a very reasonable price
I just received my first order from HCG last week. The plants seem to be healthy, and were well packed. I'm on the steamy east coast, so we'll see how my selections fare here. I did choose selections said to need/tolerate more water, but of course any long term failures will be my fault, not theirs. Anyway, based on the quality of this initial order, I would order from them again.
Excellent, reasonably priced, mail-order source for the arid west. I have also been able to find some true gems that have flourished in the maritime northwest. Plants are small, but health and vigor have always been exceptional.