I first contacted Roger at Raising Rarities about a week ago in regards to ordering an assortment of Cypripedium species and hybrids. I placed my order on the first of june, a sunday. Any slipper/hardy orchid enthusiasts out there know that june 1st is virtually too late to order these precious hardy treasures, However; Roger has adopted the practice of keeping some of his bare-rooted plants dormant in a refrigerated setting at the proper 37 degrees fahrenheit to extend the plants dormancy. This is great because it really limits damage to the plant, because the plant is still just a small, barely green, growth node and a bundle of creamy, wiry roots. Roger took the time to contact me several times as per request as I questioned him about his plants and made my decisions. I felt very little, if any, pressure to spit out my order and cough up my credit card information. Once I was ready to order he went through his inventory while I was on the phone, picking out the best specimens that he left, some of which he had saved for himself to grow. On the phone he was convivial yet professional and very courteous. I would recommend anyone who lives in or is visiting Ohio to go and see his garden. So back to the point; after confirming my order and handling the financial end of things, we thanked each other and I went to sleep anticipating a great package of plants in a few days. My order was shipped out the very next day, and arrived here in Oregon two days later. I was ecstatic as I opened the package, no moronic packing habits, everything was dormant so it was not damaged en route. The specimens arrived in great shape, bare root, I took care to clean off a few roots that had minimal damage but hey they went through the mail!!!!!!! Now besides the fact that Roger gave the best costumer service I have received from such an opperation, he also gave me well established, beautiful Cypripedium specimens. The cyps I ordered all had masses of healthy roots that looked like a large helping of yakisoba noodles ( minus the sauce, of course). When buying Cypripediums one expects to grow the plants for a year or even two or three before the plants reach flowering size. Now I can tell from looking at the diameter of the dormant shoots that at least five or six out of about ten plants I bought will bloom. He sold me one Cypripedium Parviflorum var. Parviflorum that has three flowering sized eyes and a large bundle of roots for $33. That is about what many people expect for second or third year seedlings. I had requested blooming sized specimens of the German hybrid Gisela Pastel, he was not sure they were big enough to flower so he charged me the cheaper price because he knew how excited I was. Several of the plants have multiple eyes, which most people would have charged more for these as they are more likely to produce a greater sized clump. I would not be surprised if three quarters of the plants I bought from Raising Rarities will bloom this year. I cannot wait to put them in the ground tomorrow. Thank you Roger.
I would say my experience with Raising Rarities has been positive, with a few bumps in the road so far. My order was shipped promptly, and the dormant Cypriprediums look OK. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be how they grow. I expect species described as "blooming sized" to actually bloom this year, and those "near blooming size" to bloom either this year or the next. I will report later in the Spring how the plants actually fared.
Although the plant prices appear to be typical of other Cypripedium dealers, the postage charges are unreasonable. I was charged $4.95 multiplied by 8 plants (actually, I ordered 6 plants, plus 2 orders of the growing medium)., for a total of $39.65. However, the ACTUAL POSTAGE was $9.60!!! That essentially means Roger charges $30.00 for "handling", which is not the industry standard and out of whack with the "normal" plant prices. I could certainly understand $4.95 per plant if we were talking about a green floppy heavy stalk. However, the Cypripediums are sent as dormant roots and weigh next to nothing. When I spoke to Roger about this, he blamed everything on the computer program which automatically figures out postage charges. Yes, it will take some tweaking to get the computer to perhaps assign one postage charge for the entire order, or better yet, charge the ACTUAL POSTAGE which in this case would have saved me $30.00. If Roger is reading this, a nice gesture would be to offer me $30.00 credit on my next order, it's really the "right thing" to do.
The other more minor "bump" is that I inadvertently gave Roger the wrong CVC number on my credit card. My fault of course, but I got a call at 10:30 at night, waking me up, which is not acceptable. Roger could have just as easily called me the next morning, got the correct number, and sent the order out that day. He seemed overly fastidious about completing my order, and I really do not understand why I had to be called late at night for a non-emergency situation.
So, my gut feeling is that Roger is not much of a businessman, and has entrusted a rather strange ordering system to a computer programmer. When I asked if my order could be sent parcel post, to save on postage, Roger basically said the computer could not accomodate it. I think it's time for this company to stop being a slave of the computer and concentrate more on customer service.
Roger called twice to make sure he got things right . My order was processed quickly and the plants arrived in great shape. It's a pleasure to do business with responsible people. They offer some Cypripediums that are hard to find.
My husband and I have always tried to grow ladyslippers with no luck. We bought three plants in late May last year from Roger at Raising Rarities, and we followed all of his instructions last year in putting in three lady slipper plants, and all have come up beautifully in our little woodland garden. We are so thrilled. In fact, two of the pots have two plants each in them. They all look very healthy, and we hope we'll have some blooms next year...or the year after.Roger talked to me on the telephone and explained in detail about the quality of the plants, and when they would bloom. His web site gives specific details of a sure fire method for success. The plants came exactly as he said and were very healthy and beautiful. I am so happy that I found this company, and will certainly do business with them again. We so appreciate Roger sharing his knowledge of these delicate plants.
Excellent customer service and great quality plants. In my opinion, these guys go way beyond the ordinary to satisfy their customers (and I have done enough mail order business over the years to know). Great quality plants at reasonable prices.