I will have to rate the plants, buying experience, and shipping experience separately.
Plants (Positive) - I ordered a Stewartia and a Magnolia. Both plants were sized as advertised. The 6 foot Stewartia was in full bloom! I am very happy with the quality and the value.
Buying experience (Positive) - Due to a severe winter, Greer apparently lost much of their stock. I ordered a bit late and so several items were understandably out of stock, not available, or available in different sizes. Their email communication was excellent and they did a very good job of finding plants by outsourcing.
Shipping experience (Negative) - They shipped on a Tuesday by FedEx Ground with an expected delivery on Saturday to Middle TN. I have all my packages delivered to Going Postal as I live out in the country and cannot have plants especially thrown over the fence and sitting in the sun waiting for me to come home. They tried to deliver late Saturday afternoon well after GP had closed. There was NO attempt at delivery on Monday. The plants were finally delivered late Tuesday.
The packaging was a mixed blessing. The plants survived because the box was well sealed and had a wooden structure inside to maintain structural integrity. BUT the 2 foot magnolia had been packed loosely and so was rattling around in the 4 foot long box. As a consequence the tips of the plant were either broken off or bent over so I lost much of this year's growth. How do you get a 6 foot Stewartia in a 4 foot box, you ask? You bend over the top 2 feet into a U shape. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt on this and hopefully the tree will straighten back out in a few days. Or maybe I will have the only weeping Stewartia around.
Summary - Love the plants but may hesitate to buy again due to the shipping drama. I would think long and hard about ordering from them if you live farther east than I. It was shocking to find that FedEx ground was less reliable this spring than either UPS or even USPS (gulp).
On Jun 19, 2014, Greer Gardens responded with:
"On Jun 19, 2014 6:33 PM, Greer Gardens responded with:
I am sorry that FedEx let you down in the delivery. That should know that a business like Going Postal would close on Saturday evening, though you did not give us a business name just an address and we assumed it to be a residential address. Otherwise we could have given additional instructions. FedEx Home Delivery (which also delivers to businesses) works Tuesday through Saturday, hence the reason it was not redelivered on Monday.
We try very hard to pack the plants well so they cannot move in the box, but sometimes the boxes are damaged by the transportation company, but that happens very seldom.
Because of transportation costs we do bend the plants in the box sometimes, but it does not hurt the plant and they soon straighten up. Since the transportation companies charge by the size of the box, a 6 foot box could cost much more than a 4 foot box and we think transportation costs for our customers are high enough as is and we certainly do not make money on transportation, and we want to keep costs reasonable for you.
The transportation drama seldom happens, and we are sorry it did for you.
Posted on March 19, 2008, updated June 1, 2010
I ordered 2 phormiums from Greer Gardens. Shipping was pretty fast and the plants that arrived were really beautiful... large and healthy. Really an ease to do business with. I have already placed a second order with them based on my experience.
On March 26th, 2008, dannygates58 added the following:
I recieved my second order from Greer. Once again shipping was very fast and the plants that were recieved were beautiful and healthy. My only complaint would be that I had ordered a 2'-3' picea abies pendula. The plant measured just 21 inches but it is very robust and healthy so I can overlook that. I have never ordered a 2'-3' plant from anyone and actually recieved a 3' plant anyway!! The araucaria araucana was ordered as a 6"-12" plant and in fact was 12" Greer is absolutly one of my regular shopping locations from now onOn June 1st, 2010, dannygates58 changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I have left 2 positive ratings in the past but my most recent experience was not so good.
I found a couple trees I had been looking for on their website. I also saw a catagory for " Baby Bonsai" so I clicked on it. These are small plants and all 9.95. I found a couple that I liked and added them.. sort of like the things you pick up at the checkout at the grocery store. Its not the reason you came shopping but you add them anyway.
A few days later I noticed a charge on my card from Greer on my card but for less than 1/2 of the purchase. The plants arrived and they were beautiful and healthy no problem with that at all but the tress I wanted were not shipped! Basically they only shipped the baby bonsai as the others were not available.
I called Greer right away and while the operator was very friendly and helpful he explained that their computer does not have inventory. When you place an order they do not actually know if its in stock until someone goes and actually checks.
I was never notified that the order would be shortshipped .
I would not have bought the small plants on their own and paid shipping. they were a last minute add on.
I would have liked to have been notified that stock was not available and given the option to replace or change my order
In the future I would send an e mail first with items I wanted and make sure they are in stock before I place an orderOn Jun 1, 2010, Greer Gardens responded with:
"On Jun 7, 2010 10:18 PM, Greer Gardens responded with:
I am sorry that we did not completely fill your order as desired. If you consider that the Baby Bonsai, which you will have to admit are well worth the price, were only incidental, you received two of the three you ordered. You only ordered two other plants, on of which was not available, so you can't say we only shipped the Baby Bonsai. Yes, you ordered a total of five plants including the Baby Bonsai and only received three and that is not what we ever want, but you did not receive only the Baby Bonsai as you state.
Now, let me say one other thing. In December we suddenly had three very cold nights which at the time did not seem too be bad, but when the plants started to grow at the time you ordered, we suddenly found that thousands of plants were not of the quality we will send, hence why you were told the computer inventory is not accurate. We may have shown 50 plants of something available and suddenly found we only had 10 or 5 or 1. We tried to adjust the inventory as we could, but we could just not keep up. If you had placed at email and we would have even pulled the plants for your order at one point, a week later as the plants leafed out we might have found we could not send them.
We care, but also know that sometimes things don't work as we wish. It really hurts to be kicked when we were already crying at the losses we had. I hope you will reconsider your rating.
But I will add that we still have lots of quality plants to sell, but all Northwest nurseries are hurting in someway this year.
On Oct 31, 2007, juanwillis Winchester, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:
I ordered two Japanese maples from Greer Gardens this past year. Given that I spent over $500, I was dismayed at the small root systems on each. One survived, but the other didn't live out the week.
I called and was promised that Mr. Greer would respond to me. Instead a replacement arrived a couple of weeks later. It was great that they sent a replacement, but it would have been nice to have a heads-up that it was being shipped, and it would have been even nicer if there had been a root system on the replacement (if anything, there were less roots this time).
I called and was again promised that Mr. Greer would need to respond to me. After not hearing back I called again and was told that a replacement would be shipped in the fall. I did indeed receive another replacement, again without any shipping notification but this time with a healthy root system.
So at the end of the day, I have two fine Japanese maples, but it took quite a bit of doing to arrive at this point, and each time I had to initiate contact (I never have heard from Mr. Greer). I'm glad that the company did the right thing and sent two replacements (I have no doubt that they made little if any money on this transaction), but it also wouldn't have been necessary if the root systems hadn't been treated so harshly in the packaging process.
On Apr 14, 2006, declfi Fenton, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:
I made an order to Greer gardens in the first part of March I ask if the would ship as soon as possible. They made know promise but said they would do what they could. I called twice since then asking if they would ship. It is now April 14th with 1 week in transit the earliest I could receive the plants would be April 21 or 24. This is UNACEPTABLE!
When you Charge 20 bucks for a 1-gallon plant you should be jumping thru Hoops. I will not be back. There are way to many good mail order companies to waste my time.
On April 15th, 2006, declfi added the following:
I do not remember exactly when I made the order to Greer Gardens. It was made by phone. But I asked 3 times for shipping, the reason being I had ordered Rhododendrons and it was getting hot here in St. Louis. I stated this when I made the order. I called back a week or two later (By phone no record) because it was getting hotter and asked again if they would ship. They told me they would put an early ship because of weather. I called back a week later, give or take. (By phone no record) It was going to get into the 90’s and I had a vacation coming up April 22. I told them if they could not get them here by then to cancel my order. They said OK. They did not say “yes we will get them to you” or “no we can’t”, just “OK”. I did not hear from them and on April 13 I sent the following email.
It is going to be 90 Degrees here tomorrow and looks like the 80's are here to stay. If you cant ship my order Monday Please cancel. I am really disappointed in Greer Gardens I Tried to get you to send my order ASAP Because of the Heat and an up coming Vacation. Now 6 Weeks later No Plants.
Very unhappy customer
I did not receive a responds to this email.
They never stated why they could not ship and I never received any information or email correspondences from Greer garden. Mr. Greer stated call and we will fix the Problem. How many times do you have to call? I cannot say the exact time frame because it was by phone and No correspondences.
St.Louis On April 17th, 2006, declfi changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Mr. Greer explained that there were some mitigating circumstances. They were out of his control. So I am changing my rating to neutral. On Apr 14, 2006, Greer Gardens responded with:
On Apr 14, 2006 8:53 PM, Greer Gardens added:
Dennis Fitzgibbons ordered this at the end of March, not the first part as he said. Yes, we made "know" (actually "no" promise) as delivery as a plant was not yet in from a supplier and he Dennis asked that the plant arrived before April 22 which it will, as it will be shipped by two day air next week. We fulfilled our promise and if Dennis is unhappy, he can contact us and we will solve the problem.
President, Greer Gardens
On Apr 15, 2006 8:35 PM, Greer Gardens added:
I am sure Dennis Fitzgibbons, wants to be fair, but he has not given us time to even answer. The email he quotes that he sent us was on Thursday. The two days of the week we don't have someone to answer email are the days Diane (who does our firstname.lastname@example.org email) has off. I have since called Mr. Fitzgibbons and left a message as no one was home and he has not returned a call to my toll free call back number. Yes, I expect he should have time to answer, but he had not given us that time. He admits he does not remember the times or dates he supposedly called.
We are a small company and we care a lot. Contrary to his statements of six weeks from when he ordered, it is now just three weeks from the day he placed his order. We try to get plants in the customer's hands even faster than that, but there are times when that is impossible. Most gardening customers realize that.
All I ask is the Mr. Fitzgibbons be fair and not say six weeks, when it is actually three weeks.
In spring of '03 I ordered a columnar Sargent cherry from Greer, paying $40 for the tree and $60 for shipping. When I received it I was dismayed to find that it had been "hatrack" pruned: what appeared to have been a 9' tree had been cut back to 7'. I was unhappy about this and contacted Greer. The owner responded promptly to my email and assured me that the tree would recover, and that he'd pruned it to make it branch more fully. What I found, though, in the two years that have elapsed is that the tree has issued forth unsightly shoots at 45-90 degree angles to the originating branches, so that the tree looks like an ungodly candelabra. I reconnected with Harold Greer and tried to explain to him that I was unhappy that he'd engaged in such drastic pruning w/out giving me a choice in the matter, as Forestfarm, to cite one example, would have. I also said that of the many columnar cherries I'd seen at local nurseries, not a single one had been pruned in this fashion, and that, as far as I knew, it was a type of pruning used on commercial, fruiting cherries only. He reiterated that the tree would, over time, assume an acceptable form, just more full. I pointed out that I'd chosen a columnar form precisely because I didn't want it full, and that I wasn't happy about having to gaze at this monstrosity for however many growing seasons it was going to take for it to calm down (if ever). He responded w/a huffy, "the customer is always right" and an offer to give me credit for the cost of the tree (but not the shipping, mind you) on my next purchase from him. So I give credit to Mr. Greer for responding promptly and for offering at least a partial refund, but be warned that you may want to make sure that he keeps his shears holstered before you buy. As for my cherry tree, I’m going to root a couple of the vigorous shoots and start over with the tree, on its own roots this time—so I’ve paid about $110 (including the rooting pot) and frittered away two years for what will turn out to be a 10” whip. Wow!
On Mar 20, 2005, Greer Gardens responded with:
On Sep 15, 2005 9:01 PM, Greer Gardens added:
I am sorry that this lady was unhappy.
Because of shipping size restrictions, had we not cut the tree, which I still say will not matter as the tree grows, she would have had to pay about 200% more. We tried to explain that to her. She quotes Forest Farm, which is a wonderful company and a friend of ours as we recommend each other ofter. However, Forest Farm limits the size of the plants they ship and they would not have shipped as large of tree.
We try very hard to please, and with the size restrictions that shipping companies are placing, we will not be shipping as large of trees as she asked for in the future.
I have the great pleasure of living in Eugene, home to some of the best nurseries on the West coast. So I've visited Greer Gardens personally, and I have a lot positive to say about them. Firstly, their selection of plants is enormous and includes many unusual cultivars. Every specimen I inspect looks vibrant and healthy. A visit to the nursery proper is much like a stroll through a park because the grounds are expansive, peaceful and well landscaped. I've always received genuinely friendly assistance from the staff, who are knowledgeable and willing to do a little research if they don't have the answer about a specific plant. All in all, it seems like a business that offers much to the customer, and where the employees appear happy to work there.
So why not a positive rating? The price. I recently purchased lovely, 3-4' witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’) elsewhere for $32.95. I did a little price checking afterwards at Greers and found the same specimen, also of excellent quality marked at $69.95. "It's an extra %10 off the marked price" I was told. I've found similar, huge disparities on other plants as well.
I'm not about to pay nearly double the price for any nursery. It's too bad they're so expensive, because the experience at Greer Gardens makes me want to shop there more.
I've dealt with Greer Gardens for many years, both where we are now (West Virginia) and in Virginia before we retired. Their catalog is marvelous, the selection of rhodos and such marvelous, but they are not prompt in dealing with problems and their packing leaves something to be desired.