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Comments regarding Plant Delights Nursery

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277 positives
22 neutrals
32 negatives


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Positive mkjones
(8 reviews)
On Jul 9, 2011, mkjones Aurora, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I order A LOT of mail order plants online and via catalogs for our multiple gardens. In recently ordering from no fewer than half a dozen of nurseries from which I receive catalogs and/or emails this season, I can say that I am FULLY delighted (no pun intended) by the quality of Plants Delights Nurseries offerings. Not only do they ship the healthy, robust plants that I would purposely purchase sight-seen in a physical nursery, they pack them with the care of someone who is shipping from their own garden. None of the plants were limping in health, haphazardly dropping dirt or "iffy" looking when I removed them from their packing. I honestly felt that all $300+ that I'd spent for my garden @ Plant Delights website was money well spent, and when I tend to my newly planted fare now, I smile with gratitude. Thank you, Tony Avent, for running a shipshape operation with the quality and care of a true Gardener! I will always be back to shop again.....

Positive WeeklyWeeder
(16 reviews)
On Jul 2, 2011, WeeklyWeeder Polson, MT (Zone 5b) wrote:

I received a very well-packed order of Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus and citrina in excellent condition and in the time frame indicated.
I was glad that the company uses a 'rapid-transit' shipping method to my area, which enabled the plants to arrive without undue stress.
A nice experience with this company and one I hope to repeat.

Positive RebeccaLynn
(15 reviews)
On Jun 30, 2011, RebeccaLynn Winston Salem, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

Tony Avent and his Garden Delight Nursery put the Fun back in Flora. I'm looking forward to attending the July 8th Open House.

Positive jamiew
(12 reviews)
On Jun 21, 2011, jamiew Montgomery, AL wrote:

I just received an order of several sinningias, punica, amorphophallus, and others. This nursery always sends the largest specimens, in excellent condition, and perfect shipping. I hope I can visit their nursery one day. They are on the top of my mail order list!

Positive Marilynbeth
(32 reviews)
On Jun 19, 2011, Marilynbeth Hebron, KY wrote:

I've ordered for the first time last year and this year was my second time. Won't be the last, however! Happy with both orders of plants!

Negative Speckled_Hen
(3 reviews)
On Jun 9, 2011, Speckled_Hen San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Posted on May 29, 2011, updated June 9, 2011
I've been following this company for years and have always appreciated their diverse catalog. However, I've also noted their poor customer service, especially in the way they've responded to complaints on this site, and their strange infusion of politics with plants and questionable comments in the plant descriptions. What this all adds up to is unprofessionalism, which has been evident especially in the snarky email replies from the company, in which the representative in several cases actually made personal attacks toward the customer. The fact that they entitle a section on their website "Hate Mail" that includes critical correspondence demonstrates their childish sarcastic attitude. I've never seen another company do this - who stayed in business. I am glad that some people have had luck with this company but I will continue to be wary and avoid them until I know they have a more serious dedication to customer service and quality over sarcastic humor and rudness.

On June 9th, 2011, Speckled_Hen added the following:

Update after response from company. This is just the sort of response I've come to expect from this company, and the way I've seen them respond to every problem in this forum - with personal attacks, unprofessionalism and sarcasm. What a way to attract and retain customers. This interaction has been a customer service experience and with their response, they've guaranteed that I won't be a future customer. There are just too many other good nurseries out there folks who won't treat you like this. Incidentally, I do appreciate and share your sense of humour sir - I just think it could use some refinement. ;)
On Jun 9, 2011, Plant Delights Nursery responded with:

"On Jun 1, 2011 12:12 PM, Plant Delights Nursery responded with:


You sound like someone with an axe to grind. Let's see, you've never ordered from us and have no first hand experience with our customer service. You don't like our truth in advertising when we post our hate mail on our website without any editorial comments. You didn't bother to mention our good mail, which extols our excellent customer service...hmmm...sure sounds like an axe grinding episode to me. It goes without saying that you obviously don't share our sense of humor. That's fine, and if you don't want to order from us, that's fine also, but why can't you just keep your negative thoughts to yourself? I'm reminded of the old saying, better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603 USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax 919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three times" - Avent"

Positive Hindernone
(4 reviews)
On Apr 22, 2011, Hindernone Broadway, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Received my first order from PDN yesterday and was extremely satisfied. Although the pricing may be higher than some mail order businesses, the plants are healthy, quite large, packaged exceptionally well and just downright delightful. (Kniphofia, Aristolochia fimbriata, Manettia cordifolia, Echinacea 'Gum Drop' ) Hoping to plant today and tomorrow...

Positive katiegirl021
(1 review)
On Apr 21, 2011, katiegirl021 Zebulon, NC wrote:

I've been a fan of Tony Avent & Plant Delights Nursery for over 20 years. Before opening his nursery he wrote a weekly column for the Raleigh News & Observer - and I was so upset when his column ended - not knowing what was yet to come (that's were the humor in his catalog probably comes from - but can't someone try to be a little bit different?) If you are ever in NC at a time they are having an Open House, this is a must! The gardens are interesting any time of the year. Busloads of people come from all over. He travels all over the world searching for new and exicting plants. I've never had to use the mail order catalog, but would highly recommend checking them out. Every plant I have bought there has thrived. I recently moved to a small town outside of Raleigh, so am having to start over with my garden. His next open house is coming up and I can't wait!

Positive rddjgarden
(1 review)
On Apr 20, 2011, rddjgarden Bristol, FL wrote:

I have been a customer of this nursery for several years, and have always been extremely happy with the plants I received and their service. I just received 3 more healthy and unique plants that I can't wait to plant in my garden. Even though I thoroughly enjoy their website, I always look forward to receiving their catalog in the mail twice a year. I hope they can continue to do what they've been doing for many years to come.

Positive boru
(13 reviews)
On Apr 15, 2011, boru Altoona, WI wrote:

Posted on June 25, 2007, updated April 15, 2011
Summer is here and the rush to get my garden planted has let up. I find myself planning for next Spring. I find now a good time to write comments on the vendors I used this time around. For the first time, I ordered from Plant Delights. I found the quality of their products to be superior and their selection to be one of the best. Above all, the information I have gleaned from the website has been very helpful. I have only found two other vendors (maybe three) to have reached such a high level of customer service. Plant Delights has been all that I had hoped it would be. As I came to write this, I was surprised to find all the negative comments that seem based on a perception of the politics at PDN. I guess I really never noticed anything all that offensive or even political for that matter. I like to think that most gardeners can look past political orientation when it comes to buying plants. As with any business, if you don't like the person that runs it, don't go there. To slam a business just because you do not like what it says really is not fair and is terribly misleading to other potential customers. If PDN's main fault is in the writing of its catalogue, go elsewhere, but let other gardeners not be misled by the political opinions of some. This is not a political forum. That said, I will again express my satisfaction with all the business and service aspects I have experienced with PDN. Thank you and enjoy the day.

On September 1st, 2007, boru added the following:

I might add at this time that since I last wrote I have experienced a slight problem with an item from PDN. Now I am able to evalaluate how they address a customer complaint. I will state at the outset that I always read a vendor's guarantee and understand what must be done if a problem arises before I place any order. PDN's instructions are very clear and include an admonition that customers need to adhere to their return policies in order that there be no misunderstandings. While some may feel that this straight forward approach is cold, I personally appreciate it. I know from the outset exactly what is expected of me. In my second shipment from PDN, one pot had spilled, despite what I consider a very good job of packing......these things occur in the best of situations. I contacted their customer service within the stated amount of time and asked what they would prefer I do with the plant in question. I must admit that I failed to use the listed customer service link the first time and received no response. When I went back to the instructions, I quickly noted my error and again sent the email. Once I used the proper link, my issues were immediately addressed and I had a new plant in a matter of but a few short days. The staff were very courteous and did not ever imply that what had happened was in any way my fault. I was very impressed with the reponse and I will say again that I have found PDN to be one of the best vendors with which I have dealt. Thank you and have a nice day. boru
On April 15th, 2011, boru added the following:

I cannot believe that it has been almost four years since I last posted anything about PD.....I suppose I have been spending too much time out in my garden, Just thought I would update my positive impression of this company. Today, I received my most recent order. EXCELLENT! The packaging and quality of plant material has improved every year, despite already being far better than most. I do wish their prices were lower, but I wish gasoline prices would go down also (I don't suppose I will ever again see it for $0.15/gal as I did in my youth....sigh)...LOL! Anyway, my order included a Cypripedium 'Gisela,' two Arisaema, two Amorphophallus, and several Hymenocallis (a plant that has become one of my favorite summer bulbs). While I can find less expensive plants elsewhere, I trust PD to provide me with what I order (which is often not the case when buying on eBay, etc). Just wanted to say again, years later, that my experiences with PD have all been positive and I am VERY happy to see them back in Dave's 'Top Thirty."

Thank you to all the staff at Plant Delights!

and to all my fellow gardener's, may your paths be without (too many) stones

Positive bambiatthelake
(7 reviews)
On Apr 10, 2011, bambiatthelake Streetman, TX wrote:

I order quite a bit from this company because of the variety of plants they offer. There is a lot of information about these plants on their website which makes selection easier. I know they are expensive, and shipping seems high, but the size of the plants is larger than offered by others. That is important where I live (Texas) because plants must get established before the summer inferno sets in. I have always found customer service to be responsive.

Positive jmonroe18
(2 reviews)
On Mar 21, 2011, jmonroe18 Gastonia, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

These are some of the best hostas on the planet! I have never dealt with such a wonderful nursery!~

Positive fraying
(2 reviews)
On Mar 18, 2011, fraying San Francisco, CA wrote:

Plant Delights Nursery's customer service is the best in the business. I got a quick, friendly response every time I sent a question.

Positive plantingoaks
(8 reviews)
On Mar 16, 2011, plantingoaks Marysville, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

This review is almost skirting a 'neutral' rating, but stays in the positive zone as everything has survived, and I now have plants in my garden I could not have acquired otherwise.

You have to keep in mind the target audience of this company. They are selling obscure or newly introduced plants that are not widely available or suitable for all locations. It's like beta-testing software. You have to do your own research on what you are getting, and expect a few kinks along the way in order to try something you otherwise wouldn't be able to get at all. Likewise, they are very expensive, and you are paying more for rarity than for exceptional specimens.

I placed an order in the spring of 2010 and it arrived promptly and adequately packed. The condition of the plants varied. They were all of adequate size and rooting, if not impressively large. Some appeared mildly dry and rootbound, but not enough to be concerned. A hardy hibiscus was rather tall and spindly with the tip broken off where it didn't quite fit in the box. It promptly lost all its leaves within a day of being unpacked. However, the plant itself was healthy and bounced back quickly from the trauma without any particular coddling. I would describe the condition of the plants overall as not perfect, but completely acceptable.

I suppose I will summarize as such: If you can find a plant somewhere else, you should probably get it there. It will almost certainly be cheaper, and may well be a nicer specimen to boot. However, for things that can't be found elsewhere, I will not hesitate in being a repeat customer to plant delights as often as I can afford it.

Positive Fiona5
(6 reviews)
On Mar 14, 2011, Fiona5 San Jose, CA wrote:

Ordered 3 Colocasias and 1 Musa Siam Ruby. Promptly received nice healthy looking plants of good size. My Siam Ruby has several pups! Two of the Colocasias were slightly damaged (broken leaves from squashing in the box), but they'll recover and overall I'm very happy. Got a free slug too!

Neutral jpgreen
(5 reviews)
On Feb 4, 2011, jpgreen Roswell, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very expensive but they have plants that no one else does and they do ship very large plants

Positive skaggs88
(11 reviews)
On Jan 3, 2011, skaggs88 Spicewood, TX wrote:

Ordered two crinums, which were shipped promptly. I was very happy with the quality of the bulbs received. I probably could have saved some money if I had waited for a sale (which they do have from time to time), but wanted them immediately. Their shipping is a little bit higher than others when you only order one or two plants. However, if you order five plants versus just one or two the shipping is actually quite reasonable. I will order from PD again.

Positive furrbunker
(2 reviews)
On Dec 7, 2010, furrbunker Jackson, MS wrote:

I recently ordered two aspidistras - an Okama and a Seko Kan. They arrived in great condition and are very healthy plants. I'm most pleased and will order from this company again.

Positive 7B_8A
(12 reviews)
On Nov 3, 2010, 7B_8A Fayetteville, GA wrote:

I ordered 3 Hannibal's Dwarf Crinum from their 20% off overstock sale during the wee hours of Oct 24th. Realizing they ship USPS and the fact that I was ordering during a special I still had the audacity to request a Oct 29 delivery date (after all, it was my birthday). I'll be danged if I didn't come home on the evening if the 28th to a rather large box on my doorstep begging to be opened (literally - it's written on the box)! Inside several editions of the Herald-Sun I found three plants that I'm sure would be considered very fine by any nursery's standards. Expecting overstock specials to resemble something from the Island of Misfit Toys I was pleasantly surprised. The first was a large bulb well leafed out in healthy green regalia. The second was even bigger and had two pips or pups or whatever you crinum people call them. The last bulb must have been a birthday present because the pot was literally bulging out on all four sides. Surrounding the main bulb were no less than eight leafy stems with the shortest one being long enough to make Tony jealous! New customer? Definitely! Customer for life? Will keep advised. I do still owe a few boxes of chocolates for the prized catalogs of such high hu-morals.

Positive Nemogardener
(2 reviews)
On Nov 2, 2010, Nemogardener Oak Ridge, TN wrote:

I have been ordering plants online for years, but this is the first time I felt compelled to send a thank you note to the company. Not only that, they responded immediately and thanked me for thanking them! That's a first for me.

They did a remarkable job pulling and packing my shipment. Not only did it arrive in just two days, but everything was perfect. The Spiranthes cernua was in full bloom, and not a single petal was wrinkled. That is quite a feat for such a long and relatively fragile wand. The White Ball Buddleia was similarly in perfect condition with all blooms intact. I look forward to doing business with this company again.

Positive lesliegardener
(1 review)
On Oct 5, 2010, lesliegardener Fairview, TN wrote:

I am so glad I found this daves garden so I can rate some of these companies I have been buying from for so many years; like Plant Delights. I have been buying hostas and rare things from PDN as long as I have been a master gardener and Tony and the team have always taken GREAT care of my plants. I even buy a shirt every now and then so I can show my support for PDN's great sense of humor. Thanks for being an awesome nursery!

Positive omasuziq
(8 reviews)
On Sep 29, 2010, omasuziq Greensboro, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

Posted on May 10, 2010, updated September 29, 2010
Posted on May 7, 2010, updated May 10, 2010
My review is "neutral" only because I haven't ordered from them on-line. Rather, I had the good fortune to be able to visit them last Friday during their few open houses of the year. What a joy! The "demonstration gardens" are unbelievably beautiful and full of gardening inspiration. I did buy plants, however (what's the point of going if one does not?), and these were healthy and had good root growth. From the quality of the stock and the personal care I saw that day, I would definitely order from PD on-line next year. I can only hope I find a shade place for the Hellebores they exhibit and sell. Unbelievable....

On May 10th, 2010, omasuziq changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:

My original "neutral" rating had only to do with my having purchased (wonderful) plant stock in person during my recent visit to Plant Delights, although not through mail order. I won't be able to make this visit every year but do intend to use PD as a preferred mail order supplier.
On September 29th, 2010, omasuziq added the following:

I ordered Sedum 'Maestro" and a herbaceous peony from Plant Delights this fall. The sedums had been appropriately trimmed for shipping and transplanting, but all of them have since sent out lots of new growth and some have actually flowered. Very nice. The peony was a good-sized specimen still in leaf. I prefer these over bare-root plants, for which I have a phobia. My order was handled quickly and packed well. I definitely recommend PD.
Positive tufe
(2 reviews)
On Sep 19, 2010, tufe Newtonville, MA wrote:

I have had great success with plants from PDN. They are more expensive than a lot of nurseries, but as I tell all my friends, the plants are huge. I have had only one failure with a PDN plant, but it was a plant I was trying to grow (perhaps) a little too far north. However, as Tony Avent notes, zones are not written in stone. I like to push the boundaries if I like the plant. With proper placement and winter care I've had great luck with PDN plants. So--one didn't make it. I don't want my money back but I do wonder what I could do differently next year. If at first you don't succeed...

Positive jedoody
(23 reviews)
On Sep 6, 2010, jedoody Las Vegas, NV wrote:

I recently ordered two "Australia" canna lilies that I have not seen in local nurseries. Although the temperatures here have been in high 100's, the plants arrived in great condition and are growing and producing new leaves. Green Thumbs Up to PDN.

Positive Greenpeter6
(12 reviews)
On Aug 30, 2010, Greenpeter6 Astoria, NY wrote:

It is when you have a problem that you find the worth of a company. How did the company react to a your needs? I have only respect for Plant Delights. I had a problem with a Lycoris purchase. They happily, and with humor replaced the plants--which were dormant at the time of shipping. I am always very pleased with plants purchased from Plant Delights and now the customer service accorded me matched the high quality of the plants they sell and ship. If you like plants that are out of the standard offerings of many vendors, this is the place. Take a look at their web catalog, and if you want to have a good time monthly--subscribe to their e-newsletter--although sometimes Tony shares some sad news here, it is always interesting and well-written.

Positive aboutheidi
(2 reviews)
On Aug 24, 2010, aboutheidi Philadelphia, PA wrote:

I have always been very happy with my selections. Living up up north I have to treat my plants with a little more care than others, so a heavily rooted plant is always welcomed and usually what I receive. Thanks PD for being an awesome place to collect!

Positive mableruth
(2 reviews)
On Aug 21, 2010, mableruth Bolingbrook, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I just ordered three fern plants from this store and they arrived in just two days. Their packing is very good and there were no signs of dirt leaking out at all. The plants themselves appear healthy. Also they were clearly labeled, which is expecially important for gardeners like myself with very little experiance. I cannot predict the future but I am looking to have these plants a long time.

Positive greyslate
(12 reviews)
On Jul 15, 2010, greyslate Baltimore, MD wrote:

I've mainly been shopping from Plant Delights for many different varieties of ferns that I haven't really been able to find anywhere else. I've received them in all of the various seasons of the year, from the dormant pots of "dirt", to the lush full plants of late spring and summer, to the fading end of the season. All have flourished, and spread! I couldn't be happier with the plants I've received.

Positive Cville_Gardener
(9 reviews)
On Jul 15, 2010, Cville_Gardener Highland Rim of TN
United States (Zone 7a) wrote:

I just received my first order from this company. I had gotten an email from the company shortly after placing my order stating that shipping would be delayed due to temperatures around 100 degrees in their area. It has been very warm here also (95+) and I was very pleased to see they were being prudent about shipping conditions. I would much rather wait a bit than have plants shipped when temperatures are too hot or too cold. The plants arrived today in great condition, not at all dry or dessicated. I received three large specimens of unusual varieties of yucca. I was most pleased with their size and condition. This company has a very intriguing catalog with some unusal plant offerings. I can't wait to plant my yuccas but am going to wait until they've had a little time to acclimate to their new home. I will definitely order from this company regularly. They aren't the cheapest nursery, but you will discover the reasons why and if this shipment is any indication -- and I believe it is -- you definitely get what you pay for. If you are looking for the unusual and not-so-common, check them out.

Positive rjhatl
(4 reviews)
On Jul 12, 2010, rjhatl Tucker, GA wrote:

I've made many purchases from Plant Delights, both via mail and in-person at their nursery in North Carolina. They've always packaged plants very well and everything I've received has been healthy.

If you can manage it, you should really visit their nursery during an open house. Their gardens are amazing.

Positive cebearden
(3 reviews)
On May 29, 2010, cebearden Gulfport, MS (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love their catalog! The plants arrived in good condition. They go in the ground today, so stay tuned how they perform! I will say that their packing of plants doesn't come close to the ingenius packing of "Almost Eden." The mailman could stand an AE package of plants on its head and it wouldn't matter due to packing! What PDN says about customers is true about life. You get what you give. PDN was slow to respond to e-mail queries, but eventually they got back to me with an answer to my question. It's hard to remember, but I'm not the only customer to whom they have to respond!

Positive sthinton
(6 reviews)
On Apr 25, 2010, sthinton Astoria, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This nursery is the rare example of a business that deserves a rating higher than positive. I strongly recommend Plant Delights as a source for your online and catalog orders. Their prices are reasonable for the quality of the plants and are a much better value than the ones available for cheaper prices from bargain nurseries.

I ordered Cimicifuga racemosa ($13), Begonia grandis ($13) and Abutilon ($12). The Cimicifuga has well-developed roots and top growth of one foot! The Begonia has buds and thick fibrous roots. Best of all is the Abutilon which has a spread of nearly one foot and is hanging with buds. Five days later this gem is already flush with showy flowers.

The plants I ordered arrived promptly and were very well packaged. All were moist and showed no signs of trauma from the shipment. It is evident that care and attention were taken in the care of the plants and in the packing process. Plants were in deep quart nursery pots of thick, quality plastic that I save and reuse for propagating my own cuttings.

The Plant Delights website and printed catalog are both valuable resources for a gardener. I live in New York City (zone 6b/7a) and find that most of the nursery's offerings grow well for me, with the exception of the tropical offerings.

Positive dwc47
(14 reviews)
On Apr 21, 2010, dwc47 Chattanooga, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

Plants received were very healthy and larger than expected. Shipping was timely and packing was excellent.

Positive mad4roses
(25 reviews)
On Apr 16, 2010, mad4roses Georgetown, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Poet's laurel is such a great plant, but nearly impossible to find. Today, I received five very nice, healthy specimens from Plant Delights. Opening that box was better than Christmas!

I also love their catalog. There's good information on many unusual plants and photos of every plant listed. They obviously have a sense of humor as well, which is a good thing and makes for a better read.

I'd definitely recommend them and will be ordering again.

Positive wabum
(7 reviews)
On Apr 2, 2010, wabum Reydon, OK wrote:

Once again, this nursery has supplied me with unusual plants in fantastic condition and wonderfully packed for survival. One member of this website might object to styrofoam packing but I love it, it makes a reliable substitute for gravel in the bottom of pots and makes the pots easier to carry. Have never had a problem with contacting them or recieving any help/advice.

Positive Saltydoc
(3 reviews)
On Mar 28, 2010, Saltydoc Silver Spring, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have purchased plants from PDN for years. I have always found the plants received to be of good quality and well-packaged for shipment. Are their prices somewhat higher then others? Definitely. But I find that countered by a vast number of hard to find plants. As I am a 'zone bender', many of my purchases are rated for my zone or warmer. I thankfully have not had a reason to complain to them, so I can't comment on their Customer Service in this regard. However, I have called with questions and was always offered extensive detailed help from knowledgeable folks. Definitely a positive rating from me.

Positive neil472
(1 review)
On Feb 19, 2010, neil472 Atlanta, GA wrote:

Because I live in just about the same zone as Plant Delights it's a nice resource for unusual plants. If they say something will work in zone 7b I can be certain it will.

Some have complained about prices. If you don't like the prices, shop somewhere else.

Some have complained about lack of response via email. Did you try the phone? They've always been very responsive when I've called.

Positive richardrude
(1 review)
On Jan 12, 2010, richardrude Basin, WY wrote:

I love their plants and have always received them in great condition, in pots wrapped in lots of butcher paper. I like their brugmansia and albutilon among others.

Negative dave12122
(69 reviews)
On Dec 29, 2009, dave12122 East Haddam, CT wrote:

Posted on February 10, 2003, updated December 29, 2009
I continue to order from Plant Delights because they have many species and cultivars not offered elsewhere. However, the condition of their plants varies from excellent to barely alive, most items are badly pot bound, and the prices are best described as high to very high, especially for new hostas that tend to drop in price after a few years. Moreover, the nursery has a "bump on itself", never failing to sing its praises, even when it is not warranted (does anyone really care how many species the Juniper Level Display Garden has?) The notes on How To Be A Good Customer are unbelieveably patronizing and not funny in the least. As a matter of fact, what passes for humor in this catalog sounds like leftover material from the Johnny Carson show. The zone hardiness ratings are so inaccurate as to be laughable...about the only truely funny thing in the catalog. Raleigh, North Carolina rarely gets below 15 degrees, maybe for a day or two. Just because something survives zero degrees in Raleigh every 10 years does NOT mean it will survive a typical zone 7 winter! I would add 1 or 2 zones to each of the hardiness ratings...the so called hardy Agaves and their relatives MUST be absolutely dry in the winter or they will rot. Many of the other succulent plants offered are not adapted to Eastern winters and cannot take frozen soil and alternate freezing and thawing. None of this is mentioned in the catalog, which would have you believe each of its offerings is on a level with Mother Teresa. So, basically this is a pipe dream catalog, some very good plants, some untested junk, a lot of glowing descriptions and perfect plants. When Plant Delights embraces "real life" I plan or ordering from them more.

On June 6th, 2007, dave12122 changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:

It is with reluctance that I need to change my rating of Plant Delights Nursery to negative. I sent an email in mid May outlining my disappointment with two plants ordered the previous season, in late August. Both the Saruma henryi and Tricyrtis "Imperial Banner" looked like they had seen better days when they arrived, but I figured it was the end of the season and the plants would emerge healthy and vigorous the following Spring. Well, it here it is, June 5th, and there is absolutely NO top growth on either plant. They clearly succumbed over a weird yet generally mild winter (lowest temperature 4 degrees, which would theoretically be zone 7). This shouldn't be an issue of hardiness....unless PDN is being dishonest in its presentation of these two species. When I dug up the plants, I was surprised to see a puny root system on both. Clearly, this size was probably only appropriate for Spring planting, but there is nothing in the catalogue to that effect.

My initial email was completely ignored, so I sent another one a week later. That, too was not replied to, a completely unacceptable level of customer service. In the second email, I outlined an additional problem I was having with Arisaema triphyllum "Black Jack". The original tiny corm sent last Spring never came up, so PD sent a new plant with foliage in the summer. Unfortunately, this second plant has not emerged in 2007, while countless other triphyllums around it have bloomed and prospered beautifully.

I predict that "Blackjack" will emerge as a poor doer in the north due to lack of hardiness much north of Washington DC. PD did not do its homework on this plant, and now I'm out $35.00. It does not mean much that a plant is hardy in a Raleigh zone 7, even if the temperature goes to 5 degrees or lower on rare occasions. February and March in Connecticut were largely below freezing, and "Blackjack" appears to be a plant that cannot take prolonged freezing soil and cold.

If PD "makes good" on these issues, I will be glad to change the rating to positive. However, being ignored for three weeks, even if PD doesn't agree with me, is simply not good business.
On September 4th, 2007, dave12122 added the following:

To respond to Ms. Austin's comments of June 6th:

I definitely used the "office" email rather than the "sales" email. While I could "buy" that an email could get lost once, two emails, sent on different days being lost strains my credulity. Either I am incredibly unlucky or PD is not as organized as it could be.

Yet, this third evaluation DID get to PDN in early June, since Ms. Austin responded to it. As of today, September 3rd, I have received NO response from PDN other than this rebuttal. I do not know how I could have responded earlier than 9 months (not 10....I wrote in May). Sometimes, ratty plants delivered in August DO make it through the winter and I thought it would be fair to see if the two plants did indeed make it. When there appeared to be no sign of life in May, I wrote to PDN immediately. Notifying them earlier would have been like the "boy who cried wolf". I really don't know what I could have done differently. Letting them know in August would have been a little silly since the plants were not dead, just ratty looking. They probably would have said "wait to see if they come through the winter" anyway, which brings us back to square one.

The Arisaema "Black Jack" never came up. I found the bulb, and it had rotted, perhaps as long ago as early winter, I cannot tell. This is the only case out of 100's of Arisaema triphyllums I have grown where a bulb has rotted. Other Arisaemas in the same area....ringens, consanguinea, japonica, flavum, draconitum, etc. all thrived and came up at the proper time, so I find it a bit hard to believe that there is a cultivation problem here. Again, it is important to note that I failed with this form TWICE. The initial bulb was extremely small, one-eighth of an inch at most, and never came up after being planted in early Spring. My prediction is...and I may be wrong, just like Ms. Austin...that smaller bulbs of "Black Jack" are not hardy in zone 6b without snow cover and the plant as a whole is not satisfactory north of Philadelphia. Time will tell who is right!

I find it rather odd that Ms. Austin welcomes zone information from PDN customers, but when I give her this information based on 42 years worth of gardening in Zone 6, she is quick to be defensive and accusatory. Of course, it is I that must be the mediocre gardener and PDN is always on target with its zone ratings. A lower New England Zone 6 and a Zone 6 in southern states such as Kentucky, North Carolina, etc. is an entirely different animal. The length of the cold, daily highs, and moisture in the air/alternating rain and snow are completely different. I repeat: just because a certain plant comes through the winter in central North Carolina means next to nothing for gardeners in New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut. I would be happy to give PDN my more thorough zone observations on over 100 of their plants, but as you can see, they are hardly receptive to such material, so why bother?

Little things mean a lot, and Ms. Austin's placement of my word reluctant in parenthesis speaks volumes. Does she mean to imply I enjoy giving negative reviews, that I have nothing better to do when there are over 2,000 species to manage in the greenhouse and 1,000 more in the outside garden? My reviews in Dave's Garden are public, and largely positive. Yes, there are a few strongly negative ones, but I have tried to call things as I see them. And when you call things as you see them with PDN, you are discredited immediately. I really cannot see how that fosters a positive/reciprocal attitude with customers, but I am sure PDN will think of another defensive style response.

On December 29th, 2009, dave12122 added the following:

In early 2009, I felt it was worth the effort to make one more effort to resolve this long standing issue. I decided to write to Tony Avent directly, to avoid the issue of emails not being received. Tony's initial response was encouraging, and he offered to replace both plants on any future order of $50.00 or more. This was important, as it was the first indication of some accountability on PDN's part. Unfortunately, I had long since replaced both plants, and felt a little uncomfortable having to place an additional $50.00 order to receive new plants, a requirement I had never encountered before. So, I wrote back suggesting instead a simple credit for both plants to be used for a future order. I felt this was acknowledging there could indeed be a future order and keeping the door open for additional dealings with PDN.

Well, apparently that was the wrong thing to say. I received a speedy reply from Tony, wholly different in tone, stating "I had a different thought process than all of his other customers, was "spewing venom" and was not contrite enough." He further went on to say "this will be the last communication from us".

Excuse me? What exactly do I need to be contrite about? I planted the 2 specimens immediately, gave them sufficient care, and yet they still died, despite being in a perennial bed where 100 other plants (20 newly planted from other nurseries) came through the winter perfectly. Perhaps Tony is expecting me to be contrite about not reporting the ratty plants within the 5 day window. Well, that indeed was for PDN's benefit. Plants can be ratty but not dead, and to ask for replacements at that point would have been unreasonable. By the way, this 5 day reporting policy is absolutely terrible for gardeners. Like winter damage, the effects of shipping a poorly grown plant in a box for several days does not usually show up immediately. In my experience, such plants usually show distress after 10 days-2 months, and die agonizingly slowly. Of course, this is outside of the PDN replacement period. However, I find it hard to believe that a garderner who plants something in good faith and yet loses it in 10 days, or to make it more ridiculous, 6 days is doing anything wrong.

Stating that my thought processes are unlike any other PDN customer is rather strange. Would not the typical PDN customer expect plants cared for in August and the subsequent Fall to still be alive the following growing season? I should hope they would. Tony stated in his 2nd letter to me that plants sometimes "die for no reason. " I have never found that to be true. Sometimes it is difficult to discern the reason, especially the subtleties of drainage, but there always is a reason, generally related to a problem with under or over watering.

In the infamous "How to be a good customer" essay, Tony is quick to point out that "if you are a mean customer, we would be happy to provide you with a list of companies that deserve
your business." Yet, apparently it is fine for Tony to send an insulting and dismissive email such as the 2nd one he sent me. This makes me doubt his sincerity, as well as his veracity.
On Dec 29, 2009, Plant Delights Nursery responded with:


On Jun 6, 2007 5:10 PM, Plant Delights Nursery added:

As Customer Service Manager, I am writing in hopes that dave12122 will read our rebuttal to his "reluctant" change from neutral to a negative posting.

First, I would like to respectfully address the topic of unanswered email. Since I am solely responsible for the disposition of all company email, I would like to clarify how our email is handled. We make every effort to answer all email received within 24 hours from the date of receipt (excluding weekends). There are other methods of communication aside from email that could be utilized to investigate your unanswered mail. However, you have elected to use this public forum to accuse us of a negligent level of customer service. Your post is unfair and undeserved. Perhaps something as simple as the email address was miss-spelled or sent to [] The sales address is used for web confirmations only. The email address that we read and respond to is [] We invite you to check your email address on file to make sure you have our correct email address: If you prefer, you can give us a call at (919) 772-4794.

The next point I would like to address is the condition of the Saruma henryi and Tricyrtis "Imperial Banner upon arrival. All reported concerns are documented as soon as a customer contacts us. We have no documentation regarding your displeasure with plants received in August 2006. It is the customer’s responsibility to notify us if there are any concerns related to plants at the time of receipt rather than ten months later.

I see that we replaced your Arisaema triphyllum ‘Black Jack’ in 2006. Just last week a customer in New York state telephoned to report that her ‘Black Jack’ had not emerged and she was positive it was dead. Today, she called to report that it emerged this week. Perhaps you haven't waited long enough? As noted in the catalog description “…For us it emerges slightly later (mid-May) than most A. triphyllum.” Since you are north of us, I would not count it out yet. The zone information is accurate; perhaps you might investigate by searching for your tuber. You may consider speaking with one of our horticulturist’s on staff to discuss the cause of your problems, but these problems are not related to the plants ability to withstand your temperatures.

As for our Zone ratings, we respectfully disagree. The fact is that Raleigh, NC has had two consecutive warm winters in a row where our low was 15 degrees F for many nights. Other than these abnormal winters, we regularly drop into the single digits. If a plant has not been through a Zone 7 winter, it does not get a Zone 7 rating. You will notice many new listings that are probably Zone 7 hardy, but we still list them as Zone 8 until we can verify that they can stand colder weather. We would appreciate examples of plants that the customer feels are miss-zoned, so we can explain or investigate. There are many factors that influence hardiness other than minimum cold and we encourage the customer to read our article on this subject before claming that the hardiness zones are incorrect.

I don’t even know how to reply to your “unless PDN is being dishonest” comment, so we will not dignify this remark with a response.

With regard to your earlier comment, having never seen the Johnny Carson Show, but knowing it to be one of the most respected shows in television history, we consider this a compliment.


Dianne Austin
Customer Service Manager
Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.

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