On Apr 21, 2005, pacegardens Clio, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:
I went to Arrowhead Alpines today and spent a large amount of money. Both Bob and Brigitta were very helpful and more than happy to answer any questions I had about the plants I was looking for and/or buying. Their Nursery is layed out in multiple greenhouses that are full of healthy, well established plants potted in the typical 3, 4, and 6 inch pots as well as one gallon and larger continers for the larger trees and shrubs. When I was there I had four different people ask me if I was finding everything I was looking for. I wanted a Polygonatum "Passion Purple" which was in their propagation houses (off limits to the general public), Brigitta wasted no time in retrieving the plant for me. This is not the nursery for you if you are looking for a Petunia or Marigold, but if you are looking for the unusual, hard-to-find, or even a truly rare plant, this is the place to go. I have been buying plants from this nursery for six years and have never lost a plant purchased from them. I would gladly recommend Arrowhead Alpines to any experienced gardener who is serious about what the grow.
I live in the general area of their nursery, so I thought I would stop by an take a look around. Boy what a waste of time.
They have a great selection and their nursery is beautiful, but they really, really need to work on their customer service. I wandered around for about a half hour and was totally ignored by everyone that worked there. When I did finally find someone and asked a question, they were extremely rude and treated me like I was more of a bother than anything else.
One other thing; You had better know the scientific name of whatever you are looking for, because there are no common names on anything. Now I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about perennials (no expert by any means) but I probably couldn't tell you the scientific name of anything in my garden.
I won't be going back this summer. There are better and nicer nurseries in the area that are more than happy to answer my questions and help me out. I'll be spending my money at those other nuseries instead of Arrowhead Alpines.
Owner arrogantly refuses to give any useful hardiness and cultural information. I feel he is confortable that most plants he sells will never survive a year. 30+% of plants die immediately; because they are too small and weak to survive in the outdoors. $8.00 for a lily seedling in a styrofoam cup with a 1 1/2 inch leaf??
It would be wise to avoid ANY seller selling Pink Lady Slipper (C. acaule); as doing so indicates contempt for the enviornment and high contempt for the customers.
On the other hand some of his plants are viable and can't readily be found elsewhere. So if there is something you can't get elsewhere and you really want to, take a chance with this seller . . .for just a few things
He *is* arrogant, just read his comments in the catalog
Have ordered twice in the last two years. Great variety and I have been disappointed on only a couple of plants (too small for $24 Calycanthus). The one thing that bothered me was I did not notice that there is a volume discount which I did not take when filling out the order form. They completed the order without telling me I overcharged myself. My mistake but I bet there are other places that would have corrected my total.
On Jan 27, 2005, Kevin_5 Elburn, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:
I have ordered from Arrowhead several times over the years. The order process takes some time as you must do your research on the rarities in the catalog, but it's well worth it. I have found the owner extremely helpful on the phone, and more than willing to share what he knows about the plants he sells. I am working on this year's order at this very moment.
I've ordered from Arrowhead on several occasions. At times their plants are small, but I expect that from a (predominantly) mail order business especially one that offers as many different species as arrowhead does. The plants have always come in healthy and ready for the garden. I've also on occasion spoken with Bob who answered my questions politely and patiently.
I look forward to their catalog each year so I can pour over the entries AND read the comments they can be a scream! One of these days I'm gonna have to get up there to visit the nursery (it's 2 1/2 hours one way)
On Oct 14, 2004, alwaysplanting Northville, MI wrote:
I made several trips to Arrowhead this summer. I loved their selection, and enjoyed wandering through the greenhouses and gardens. Bob and Briggita were exceptionally helpful and nice, and I came home with some wonderful and unique additions to the garden.
I had placed an order with Arrowhead Alpines and received a partial shipment and billed accordingly. Then, on September 12, 2001 I received a HUGE shipment of what I thought I'd never receive because no mention of it was made with the shipment I received in May. A direct withdrawal from by bank account was made. I called the company and told the man who answered the phone that I had not been expecting this shipment and didn't want it, I had wanted it in May with the others to complete my landscaping. Since I didn't get them then, I purchased them somewhere else. He said to me, "What do you think I am, some kind of mind reader? I'm supposed to know that you didn't want them?" Mind you, this was the DAY AFTER 9/11 and everyone ELSE on the planet (everyone but HIM and the TERRORISTS) were being extra nice to people. I took a breath and decided to be nice to him, perhaps he hadn't heard of the World Trade Center, etc. incident. He told me that I had 48 hours from the time he shipped them to return these items. Well, I think it took at least 48 hours to deliver them! I decided that I did not want to deal with him ever again.
I've just received a 15% off notice and though it's tempting, I STILL would rather not deal with him. Especially after having read that it wasn't an isolated incident or he was just having a bad day. I was taking care of my neighbor's farm and animals because the day before he received a call that his brother, a pilot, was killed and flown into the World Trade Center. He had to drive to Massachusettes hauling a trailer because it was harvest time at his brother's 150 acre farm there. And now I'm talking to a JERK who, compared to a lot of people THAT day, had no reason to be so!
IT IS a good idea to keep this guy in the house and OFF the phone. This alone would raise sales and customer satisfaction for the company.
i have been to arrowhead 3 times in the past month. my wife and i have purchased over $200 worth of plants in these trips. i have just returned from buying more plants today and had the opportunity to meet the owner. after reading some of the negative comments, i was a little reluctant about meeting Bob, but i have to say that he was very helpful. i could not locate some plants in the nursery, so he immediately went and personally gathered them up for me, he asked if he could assist further, and rang my sale up. i have never had a bad experience there, and all employees have offered assistance. the plants seem reasonably priced, and all have been grown well and are doing fine. i will return often and do reccommend them- also, i find the catalog to be helpful(and funny).
I have visited their location & bought plants there at least twice over several years. These visits followed review of their extensive catalog and were quite frustrating, as I feel their operation is primarily set up for mail order business, not in-person visits. While they are quite accomplished growers, I would not say people skills are Bob's forte. This place is most suited to the educated buyer who already knows the specifics about the particular plants she is interested in purchasing & deals with the company by mail. If you need company personnel to hold your hand while shopping for plants, you'd better go elsewhere or you'll very likely be disappointed.
Ordered 6 Thuja Occ. (Bowling ball), and a couple of other conifers. I received the order fairly quickly, and the packaging was good. The size of the Thuja Occ was a bit smaller than expected, but the roots were fine. The other 2 conifers were in good shape. Overall a good experience.
Excellent specialist nursery. Incredible selection, with many rare, challenging offerings not available elsewhere. Probably NOT a good choice for the beginner gardener, as the catalog assumes the reader has a certain amount of knowledge (which is okay in my book). Plants are often small (usually because they're small plants!), and many require special care to re-establish. Still, an amazing nursery and one of my absolute favorites.
On Oct 31, 2003, davidrt28 Columbia, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:
They have a mind boggling selection. Generally the quality of the plants is average-to-good for mail order. In a couple cases though, I received plants they were way to small to ship. Once I carefully prodded around in the pot to be sure, and is was obvious that what had been sent out was a seedling that could not have been more than a few months old. It needed another year on the bench.
The straw that finally broke this camel's back, however was ordering the long-sought Clematis X texensis 'Gravetye Beauty' which should be red, and getting a mislabeled pink variety, probably the more common Etoile Rose. Since they can't be emailed, and are hard to reach on their non-toll free number, it's just not worth the hassle of trying to arrange a replacement. In the future I will only order from this nursery if they have something I absolutely can't imagine finding somewhere else or being able to propagate myself.
I live only 30 minutes from Arrowhead Alpines and heard about it through H and H Botanicals owner John Hargrove. I have bought several plants from this nursery and have always been happy with the results. If you know anything about the plants and how rare they are, the sizes they offer are rather LARGE. I have never had a bad encounter with the owners mainly because I respect all of their rules, don't bombard them with useless questions that could easily be answered with a little investigation of my own, and by not getting easily offended by their jokes. You can't go to someone who knows nothing about you, tell them you would like to see your native plants, and expect him to compile a monsterous list of plants for you. The fact is, he doesn't know whether you are from just down the street or if you live in Arizona. I joke around with Bob and Brigetta and they have treated me fine. They have an amazing variety of plants most of which are very healthy. SHOP HERE ITS WORTH IT!
I live in southeastern Michigan and saw an ad for Arrowhead Alpines in the local paper in spring '02. I was impressed by the list of plants and noted that the ad mentioned native plants specifically, so off I headed to Fowlerville (1 1/2 hours round-trip) to look for some native plants that are on my list. I shopped around the impressive displays for a while, then sought out the fellow that was hanging around the cash register. I guess I asked a stupid question -- "I'm interested in native plants, wonder if you have them in any particular place, can you direct me?" and was met with this reply: "Native to what? This area? Michigan? The U.S.? The world?" Well I should have left right there, but I showed him a list of things I was interested in anyway (mostly berry shrubs). He declared that he didn't have anything on my list ("Jerusalem artichoke? we have that growing on the property but we certainly don't sell it"). Again, I should have left, but I'm persistent, and I looked around a little more, found some maidenhair ferns, and took them to the cash register. Well this fellow literally ignored me for 15 minutes while he poked around nearby watering some things. When he finally sauntered over to let me pay, he was terribly rude (again) and shortchanged me ("don't carry change for a $20"). What a jerk!
The plants from this company are tiny, as in minute and outrageously expensive. Many things I've received, I had to re-root, many others are newly transplanted with very little root system before they're shipped out to the customer. The company is quite arrogant about settling claims , and just does not want to hear about it. Don't beleive me?? Read their catalogue. Many things they ship out are grossly mis-named. These plants have not been flowered out to determine their true identity. Catalogue descriptions are no descriptions at all. Just to say"Brigit loves this, or grows this" is NOT a description.
Throw this catalogue right in the trash!
On Jan 22, 2003, rutholive Tonasket, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:
In April of 2001 I placed an order totalling over $100.00 including shipping to Arrowhead Alpines, 14 items. I received the order in about 2 weeks. Unpacked immediately. The Thyme plants were satisfactory. The rest of the plants were very,very tiny. The Fritillaria bithynica was dead. They state in their catalog that the plants, bulbs, etc. are grown from seed. Still I expect them to arrive alive, and the two alliums each had 1 tiny grass like leaf, and the bulb so tiny you couldn't see it. I had grown a cyclamen from my saved seed the year before and it was larger than the one they sent. The Astrantia major Ruby Cloud had 3 less than 2" inch stalks for $8.00. I wrote them , they did not answer my letter. For more than $100.00 I received 5 thymus, 1 chaemaecyparis ( very tiny) and a tiny astrantia,1 allium that lived. Today I received a new catalog, which I don't intend to even look at. rutholive,(Donna0
On Jan 3, 2003, Alyssum Cortlandt Manor, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:
Ordered from them twice. Plants came healthy and in good condition. They have a very nice and large selection of rare plants. The catalog is very interesting to read and some very honest descriptions. I do wish they had a bit more info. for the hobby gardener like myself, however, when I called them, Bob patiently answered all my questions.
On Sep 2, 2002, alicef PHILADELPHIA United States wrote:
Even for a plantsperson, this catalogue list is overwhelming. I have an extensive library- and I couldn't find info on quite a few plants offered- so....It would be helpful if they gave a bit more info about the truly weird stuff. e.g. hardiness, exposure. Afterall, it is a challenge to order something if you can find no clue on how to grow it...On the other hand, everything I ordered was well grown and well packed, and I had a lot of fun playing with my new toys.
I consider myself very fortunate to live within 15 miles of Arrowhead Alpines. The selection is truly overwhelming, and I try to go over every 6 or 8 weeks to see what things look like. It always takes me 2 or 3 hours to look at everything.
Bob and Brigitta are very knowledgeable plantsmen (I have no patience for gender-neutral politically correct nonsense, and I won't apologise), but they have NEVER made me feel stupid when I ask stupid questions. Nor have they tried to blow smoke up my rear on the rare occasions when I asked something they didn't know the answer to.
I strongly advise downloading their catalogue and doing a bunch of research, much of what they have won't be found listed in the commonly available references.
I have no reservations at all in recommending them.
Interesting catalog, but not for the novice; I downloaded it and spent weeks poring over it. All text, not many photos on the website either, but loaded with opinion and education. (Bob Stewart could be Tony Avent's long-lost brother). I ordered about $80 worth of plants, which arrived promptly at the requested time. Plants were pretty well-packed, not large but fairly healthy. I was interested to notice that the owner referred frequently to another Michigan nursery, which also has a website (H & H Botanicals), and which offers many of the same items. I will probably give them a try next year, too.
In fall 2001 I bought two native Philadelphus (mock orange) species from Arrowhead. I found them through a web search and called the nursery to check if they were available for immediate shipping. Arrowhead was able to send them within a week and the plants were in fine shape. They are now just breaking dormancy. It was good, fast service and the list of plants this nursery offers is huge. I would certainly buy from them again.
You'd think with the incredible selection of plants that they offer that the plants themselves might be small or unhealthy, but every plant I've ordered from them has arrived in good condition and most have survived for more than one season. Reading the catalog carefully and researching the plants before ordering is a must. Also, order early because they sell out of the rare and unusual.
I am 75 years old and have been gardening most of my life and have ordered from a lot of companies. I live in desert area of Wash. State and have all my life. It is easier to order from catalogs since I live a long way from large cities and large nurseries. Some time past Arrowhead sold seeds; now they only sell plants, at least that is my understanding. I had ordered seeds from them. I early April of 2001, I sent an order for plants and bulbs to Arrowhead. The total order was $100.80, for fourteen items, ranging in price from $4.50 to $8.00.I received them in about two weeks and unpacked and planted immediately. This is what I wrote to them April 25, 2001. "Dear Sirs, I am very disappointed in the quality of the plants, except the Thymus (actually one of them was extra large) that I recently received from you, customer ID 18125, order No. 2758. I realize that you state in your catalog that most are grown from seed, but at the prices I expected plants, bulbs, etc. to be of a size to bloom this season or at least next. The Astrantia major 'Ruby Cloud' is so very tiny, 3 less than 2"" stalks and one of those broken, it surely won't bloom this season if it grows, not much for $8.00. The crocus pulchella so extremely tiny I'm not even sure if it is leaf growth or tiny grass leaves. The Fritillaria bithynica is brown and withered, I would say dead. Late last winter I planted some seeds saved from a cyclamen, and those seedlings are larger than the ones you sent. For $100.oo plus I feel I r4eceived 5 good Thymes, and Chamaecyparis. Never grew Soldanella before so don't know if the one I received will bloom this year (didn't)" I never received an answer from them. Needless to say I will not be ordering from that company again.
Would have to agree that Bob is not a people person and his wife should keep him locked in the house when the nursery is open to visitors. My husband got chastised for looking at their waterfall adjacent to the gardens. Many signs posted all over "keep out" and that type of thing. Yes, they have a nice selection of hard to find items. Things have been looking pretty dismal when we visited 3 times. Perhaps we expect the plants to look better than they do but then again, why not? Perhaps they should just be mail order and call it a day.
I have read Arrowhead Alpines' catalogue and ordered from them. Since Bob is so long winded in the catalogue it is sometimes hard to find the information you're looking for if you have a question. If you call them you only get an answering machine. However, they do respond when they are able to faxes. What makes this all worthwhile is that they carry many difficult to find plants. In fact they carry more than you see in the catalogue. Example: I ordered some Soldanella and attached a note to my order form saying that I was looking for Synthiris. They actually had some on hand, but wrote that they generally saved them for collectors, but would sell me three. Bob also commented that he fully expected me to kill them. We'll see. I noticed that he has them listed now in the 2001 catalogue.
I am very pleased with my first order from Arrowhead Alpines. The order was filled promptly and arrived in excellent condition. This was a 'test' order of terrestrial orchids and I will be ordering a lot more in the future. This place is a real find!
I have ordered from them a couple of times and their catalog alone is worth the price for the reading, the humor is great. I've been well satisfied with the plants I've received. The hardiness zones aren't listed lots of times but the selection of unusual plants is worth the effort to learn about them. I have faith in them telling me a plant is a better selection and it being true. I've heard he is not a people person but I have met people that want a nursery to wait on them. What they offer in choice and unusual plants should make up for any curtness real or perceived.
Why is no one commenting on the catalog copy? It's a scream! Lively and opinionated. The note about one plant being the ugliest thing offered almost inspired me to order it. The proprietor also makes an effort to document the source of many of the interesting and unusual items. One small caveat: no hardiness zones are given. The catalog sometimes mentions if a plant survives at Arrowhead. Some of the species are new to cultivation and the hardiness is unknown. Since I am unable to find references to some of the more interesting plants in any of my many plant encyclopedias, I have to gamble on somethings. It's an adventure! P.S. I have ordered from Arrowhead Alpines for several years and have always been very pleased with the service and quality.
I too have visited this nursery many times and have met the owners. I would say Bob is NOT a people person. He really should not deal with the customers. But they do know their stuff and I have always been very happy with plants and seeds from them. The nursery is not a walk thru a well-groomed park; one has to have on good walking shoes and be in good shape to shop this one well. I find it worth the 3-hour drive at least once a year besides ordering from the catalog.
This catalog sparked my interest in butterfly plants. There are scattered references throughout to such and such plant being the larval food source for a species of butterfly. Also note his comment on high alkaline water supplies. After reading it, I called my local water department and was told that the city water is pH 9! I started using rainwater. I've ordered twice from this company and have had no problems.
I have had a very bad experience with this company. I have the misfortune of living close enough to visit this company, which advertises sporadically in the local paper. I visited them on May 6, 1998, which apparently is not a time during which they are open for retail sales, although there was no sign posting their hours. It is a very untidy operation with small temporary greenhouses for the most part. The owner, "Bob", became very angry when he noticed me and sternly warned me to stay out of the way, keep out of the greenhouses, and not to expect any help finding anything.When I brought a plant forward to purchase, he took my $20 in exchange for a $19.50 plant, stuffed it in his pocket, mumbled something about giving me a special sales tax rate, and walked off. I would not want to have to dealwith this man over a mail-order problem. I have heard he resents visitors to his remote nursery and would tend to agree that this is true.
They have a nice selection and deliver a decent plant for the price. I shop here in person so cannot report on delivery aspects. I do find them to be (the kindest way I can think of to say this about a knowledgeable plantsman/woman) WILDLY optimistic in their advice about plant hardiness. Many of the things they say are hardy in our area are only hardy with excellent siting and protection - tucked smack up against the east wall of the house, for example. That is not 'hardy' in MY book. Not a source to be overlooked, but definitely do your own thinking on the hardiness issue.
There are two catalogs offered-a plant list and a seed list-the seed list contains over 4000 varieties of conifers, trees, shrubs, vines and perennials-I have ordered from both catalogs-good plants, always true to type and they always seem to have that hard to find variety.
I ordered from Arrowhead for the first time this year. I was pretty pleased with the offerings in the extensive plant catalog. They sent good-sized plants and I have enjoyed having these, many of which were large enough to bloom this year. One Campanula is clearly not what it was labeled as, and I am in the process of contacting them to let them know.