HCG Will Start Up Their Mail Order Again!

Just read on Sunday that HCG is going to start up their mail order again! They state on their website they're finalizing details, but you need to sign up your email to get the latest news (by either clicking the message or above the message, it states sign up email). There is a place for name and zip code, which I filled in, even though I've ordered from them many, many times since Spring 2005.


So very exciting!!! Just wanted everyone to know!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Yes, Marilynbeth! I ordered two Stanwell Perpetuals from them on January 2nd. This is my first order. Judging by your enthusiasm, I am in for a treat!

I didn't think anyone could order anything from them yet. I thought everything was still unavailable.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I went hunting for a supplier. Nothing is available for shipping, but they take orders for spring delivery. I wanted two Stanwell Perpetuals, and Pickering, one of the few suppliers, is having what I hope are temporary issues with the U.S. government. Since that rose is becoming rare, I wanted to grab one. A lot of companies are taking orders now. Brent and Becky's Bulbs and Select Seeds are two of them. Often they extend early order discounts of about 10% for paid orders.

I also ordered, late in the winter roses from Roses Unlimited. It's never a bad idea to have a look at the site from which you want to order. Some take no orders till spring. Some take orders, essentially, all year. But they don't DELIVER until it is safe in your zone. Many will suggest a delivery date to you or let you choose one.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Donna, I think you must be talking about a different nursery. High Country Gardens does (or at least did) sell a couple kinds of roses but just a couple and definitely not the one you mention ordering. And they definitely are not accepting any orders now. You can go to their website and view plant listings, but they all say unavailable and there is no button to add anything to a shopping cart.

I googled around a bit and found a site called High Country Roses, I think that's probably the place you ordered things from? http://highcountryroses.com/ They have good ratings in Garden Watchdog so I expect you'll have a good experience with them too, but it's a different company than www.highcountrygardens.com which Marilyn was talking about (I'm also very excited that High Country Gardens is reopening--they were one of my favorites)

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)


My apologies Marilynbeth and thank you Ecrane.

Must be spring fever.


I'm glad you know now. :)


HCG was and is my favorite place to order from and I'm excited that they're going to be back in business!!! :)

Thanks for posting!

I've got spring fever too!

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

That's good to know about HCG - I had never paid much attention to them.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Marilynb: I didn't know they went out of business?? Could you please explain. I have ordered from them as well.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I used to get their catalogs. If I remember correctly, they did a great job of pointing out which plants are xeric (they die here) and which were mesic (my cup of tea). Am I thinking of the right company? I loved that they did that rather than just let you make a major mistake.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

birder--a few months ago they announced that they were going to have to close their doors but now it sounds like they've found a way to keep the mail order business alive (although not their retail business), so if you're interested I'd go to their website and sign up to be on the email list.

Donna--yes, their website has info on how much annual rainfall each plant can handle and what climates they're suited for. Can't guarantee they're the company you're thinking of, but they definitely do provide that info, so if you live in the midwest and choose to order something that's really a desert plant, you've been given fair warning! LOL

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I'm sure they are the company. It's admirable. I ordered the kind of penstemons from another company that really required sharply drained soil (I'm in the land of clay) and they just sent them. When I looked at HCG's catalog I understood my error.

Classy thing to do! Think I'll go check them out.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Also remember, you can ammend your soil to proper growing conditions of plants....It's just a matter of tricking them, but you have to be willing to do the ammending or take the chance on loosing your baby.. Such as digging out soil in an area and replacing or ammending with coarse sand (or like ammendmant) to give GOOD drainage.

Am glad to hear they are keeping their mail order open....just love all the goodies they offer, I happen to live in an area where their plants are quite suitable (High Desert Plains here at 6700-6800ft and annual precititation of 15-16" per year). Kudos to them!!!!

Pix: Penstemon palmerii, native to areas just south of me, which has now been introduced into my garden because of them and The Denver Botanic Gardens. It's a beauty at 4-6ft, and the only one that is fragrant!

Thanks Marilyn...I had just read on another site about their closing and was saddened, now am happy they can atleast reopen the mail order offerings to the public again...

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy
Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Yes, I am happy they are staying open. I have learned a lot just by reading the descriptions of the plants e.g. What I can plant where, what I can expect fromt the plant. I sure hope they make it.
I am pleased HCG is interested in doing xercape plants. I believe we are headed more and more in that direction. I am, anyway.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Kathy, of course you are right about amending the soil (sometimes I grow things in pots) but unfortunately when you amend heavy clay with coarse sand you get brick. And it is lake a bathtub phenomenon - a bathtub with no plug. A botanist I know tried to do it and failed miserably, and had to dig everything up.

A bunch of acid loving plants were installed in my 7.9 ph yard. As you can imagine, they became very chlorotic - 19 shrubs!!! I composted them, gave them pine bark mulch, used ironite every three weeks and acid based fertilizer twice a season. 5 fothergillas and 14 bayberries. You do have to stay on top of it. It was a struggle with the bayberries. A couple of them would get that sick coloring every year no matter how much I cared for them. But would I get them again, if I could? YES!

I just got some specisoum alba and Uchida. I have learned from experience that I will have them for a year only if I don't give them quite acid soil. So those babies go into pots. Which is lovely - I can move them around.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

We have tilled in bales of peat moss into our gardens, and it has made a huge difference. They aren't perfect but much improved.

Having said that, I try to stay within the requirements of my environment to some extent. I am not willing to plant labor intensive plants that require a lot of coddling because they are out of their comfort zone. I don't have the time nor energy to put into those plants. There's way too many plants that will work within the constraints of my garden/s.

On the other hand, I have planted plants as a beginner that I now have learned the requirements are different than where the plant is located. For example, I read this evening phlox diverticata s/b planted in a "moist" area. Whoops! Mine isn't and has gently spread (much to my excitement). It seems to be happy in "shade" but certainly doesn't get a lot of moisture. So, I guess you don't always have to follow the exact requirements.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Donna: This is one of the rare times I disagree with you -- I find that amending clay with coarse sand really works, and fairly permanently. Unlike organic material, which needs to be replaced periodically, the sand treatment only needs to be done once -- the sand doesn't decompose. (Of course, you also have to amend that soil periodically with organics to keep it healthy.) I used to amend with equal parts peat moss and sand; now I avoid peat moss because of environmental concerns and use pine bark fines instead.

Probably the proportions are key -- maybe I just had dumb luck, and your botanist friend the opposite. A fair bit of sand has to be added to offset the clay, and the sand has to be coarse (not fine play box sand).

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi Hap,

I don't use peat moss either, for both environmental concerns and the fact that it doesn't appear to be appropriate for our soil.

Actually the botanist was teaching a Master Garden class earlier this week on soil; my referring to her as a friend wasn't quite correct. But she does have 30 years of experience, and she is growing in soil very much like mine. Yours might be very different. She used coarse sand, and it was truly a disaster. She was very emphatic about it in class, and it's probably a soil difference between yours and ours - and I don't think it was dumb luck - I think that you are very skillful and are being diplomatic. I've never done it so you and I are not disagreeing. I am quite certain the proportions are key.

I'm think it's fabulous that it worked for you. Keep on stepping!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Heavier clay soil would have more of a tendency to turn to a brick when you add sand. So soil that was a little lighter clay to begin with you wouldn't be as likely to have problems, or if it's an area that you've already worked organic material into it (or work the organic material in when you add the sand) then I also wouldn't expect problems.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Oh no! What's the deal with peat moss?

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

I had heard there were different types of clay in different parts of the country... You are probably right on target.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi Birder,

My understanding of peat moss is that it is formed over many hundreds or even thousands of years, and that therefore when you take and use it, it will not renew itself quickly. I have read that it purifies wetlands and mitigates flooding. I have also read that there is a top layer that is scraped off and sold, and once it is scraped off it releases co2 into the air. The latter may or may not be true. I am wary of claims that have to do with global warming, and I lived in my conservation community, around people who made environmental claims that were untrue.

But it is a nonrenewable resource. Once it is gone, it's gone, and at some point bye bye bogs. As a reader of Sherlock Holmes I am enamoured of bogs (ok, that's silly). So I prefer not to use it.

But it's your choice!

And Hap, this will make you chuckle. In my part of the country, clay is commonly referred to as muck. Very different, from say, the red clay of Georgia. Our muck is loaded with nutrients. Georgia red clay, I found out in the same class, has almost none. I was also told that the soil in many tropical locations has almost no nutrients, because the heat leaches it all away. The botanist lived there for ten years and you can't farm there because the soil holds few nutrients and if you add them they drain away.

I started education to become a Master Gardener and my head is spinning. It's great finding out how little you really know.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Wow -- please tell us about the Master Gardener program you are in!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

It is a program through the University of Illinois College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Services. It's offered through U. of I. Extension. The purpose of it (or so they say) is to provide university based horticultural information to the local communities and to individuals. They teach us everything from botany and propagation to soils and fertilizers to the diagnosing of diseases, and the handling of pesticides and weeds. One of the best parts is a curriculum on integrated pest management and pesticide safety. Then there is work on every plant group you can think of: roses, grasses, lawns, nuts, vegetables, roses, herbs and so on. We learn the basics of landscaping.

We had to submit paperwork and go through an interview with the head of the Horticulture Department. Then came the criminal check.

When finished, we will be interns, and get involved in community projects, work on the help desk, and work with individual gardeners. One week you might be assisting with a community garden and the next you might be helping with the municipal rose garden or helping to teach a project in a grade school. There are about 30 projects at any time.

It started January 8 and we are in class every Tuesday from 8:45 to 3:30. Attendance is MANDATORY. And we take a quiz every week, and must pass with a minimum of 80%. Then we volunteer for 60 hours a year and must go though continuing education to keep the designation.

The manual is very technical. I never cared about the difference between a monocot and a dicot but now I have to know it because it affects what kinds of fertilizer and pesticide (if you must) that you use on a plant.

I am doing it because I adore gardening. But I am concerned about spouting obsolete knowledge, especially since I am on All Experts in the perennial section of gardening. A person in my neighborhood who proclaims herself an expert told me that there were no black walnuts in our neighborhood. We were standing next to one. There were walnuts on the ground. I let it go. She told me that if I was going to seed my lawn I had to put down hay or the birds would eat it. I nodded and thanked her. I didn't have the heart to tell her that birds don't eat the kind of grass seed I put down (my original yard was all seeded and they would have had a field day) or that you never use hay on a lawn because it has weed seeds. But I fast-forwarded to Donna in 20 years and wondered if I would say similar things because my knowledge was stale. The continuing education requirement (30 hours a year) will help with that.

At the end we are going to get a manual giving us the state of the art stuff on all of the pesticides we have all been wondering about (is Bayer Systemic really safe?) And I will have a mechanism for always getting access to the latest knowledge.

I just completed my second week and I'm having a blast. I had the option of doing it on line but I was burbling so much in the interview that they asked me to take it in person (probably because I would keep the other students awake). Then they encouraged us to carpool, which I am now doing with a charming woman also named Donna - a live wire I would never have met had it not been for this class.

For a person who is obsessed with gardening it's heaven!

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Donna...yes understand what your saying on the sand issue..A tip would be to dig as deep as possible and fill the bottom of the whole with peat moss, this will also allow for drainage and maybe half way up mix in some sand, if not the straight peat should help drainage issuses...another thing I've used is grass clippings (dried) mixed into the soil...or another trick I used....shredded newspaper.. I use to work at a newpaper years ago and got a boyfried to bring me a bale of shredded newsprint ( most newspapers now use biodegradable ink so no fears). I used it as mulch the first year, then decided to make the area a garden and rototilled it in and you would be amazed at what it does.....best soil ever....I did let it rot down for a few weeks before planting and also watered it so it would break down quicker....If you don't have enough worms to begin with you will after doing something such as this.

True birder, sometimes it's a matter of, gosh noone told them.(the plants aren't as book read as we are)....lol. And would you please smell that phlox for me come spring when it starts blooming, oh yum!!!! What color do you have?

Actually when I started gardening, I had beginner books to help guide me...You need to double dig an area where you want to place your garden...geeze...that was tough, got a rototiller instead and I was off and just keep on going. Can't imagine having to do it by hand..lol. I do make sure that I rototill as deep as I can possibly go tho, 12 or more inches, the main thing is to get past what they call the hardpan....Here. when I moved in, My son-in-law rented a small tractor and tilled my feild and backyard...I only had a small Mantis tiller to begin with...We tilled 1 acre, scrapped off most of the feild grass to the bottom of the feild into 3-4ft berms. The ground had never been broken-up before and was actually horse pasture.. with wild feild grasses several feet tall with a mix of weeds....yuck! Anyway the point I'm trying to make is to get past that hardpan area if at all possible and mix in any ammendments , (just to let you know straw usually has less weed seed, grass clippings are great and usually plentiful let them dry first, just keep an eye out for seedlings tho easy to pull when sprouts, you can find bags of leaves in the fall just drive your neighborhood, let them dry and break them up. These things can be used as mulch or tilled and even handworked into the soil or planting whole). And all the that are used as a topdressing will breakdown into the soil by fall, adding tilth of the soil, Here worm here worm, suppers on..lol. Personally, Iv'e raked leaves in the fall at local city park just to get Oak leaves....some of the very best leaves for high nutient value...lol, and was even asked WHAT WAS I DOING?
Many municipalities also have Cristmas tree recycling where they turn them into mulch and give away for free to those in that city. So many possibilities if you don't want to use peat or pay for shredded bark, oh also reminds me one year got a Large truck of shredded bark when the electric company came to trim the trees in the allies. Wasn't ground all that great but for free, what you specktin...lol. And then there are tree trimming companies, usually will give or sell for low fee....

And don't get me going on maure...lol. got stories about that stuff too, also another great ammendment for those truely trying to improve their soil....Sorry I digress!!! LOL..

Yes, Donna, that program is the greatest, you will have an advantage over most tho...You have hands on info that most in the Master Gardener program won't have, actual growing info from experience!!! And to let you gals know...that program is available in EVERY county in EVERY state...check your local extention office in the state phone pages...and if not interested, they have what they call IN ACTION sheets. These contain info. sometimes to just your region on growing info., cooking, home repair and maintenance, scads and scads of info.... and most are free or available on line. (I also took the classes but naughty me, never finished, just didn't wanna learn the chemicals as I prefer organic when possible, I know, naughty)

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you Warrior.

I had horrible hardpan under the muck (yellow clay) at my old home. It was impossible to plant anything, since the clay was two inches down. Then I found what I consider the magic potion. We had an organic farm inside of our community. They had tons of horse manure, and they requested our kitchen scraps, and in return we could have all the compost we wanted. Here begins the tale of Donna and the black garbage can bags. From 1998 and for the next few years, I would take bag after bag and put it all over the property. I would put in plants with 80% compost. After a few years I could dig two feet. And in that clay, packed with nutrients, my plants all went nuts. And in the beginning, there were no worms. After about five years, it was impossible to turn more than a trowel or two of soil without encountering the little darlings. And when it rained, there were hundreds in the driveway, alley and front of the house. My neighbors would laugh, but I went out with disposable gloves and performed worm roundup - putting them in my grass. And I could easily dig a foot and a half (no tree roots, because it had been farmland).

I am now in an environment with lots of trees (read leaves) and a more neutral ph, and more shade. So the experiments become testing for growing in shade. And I have been gathering the neighborhood leaves in bins out back. My only issue is a neighbor with a very blackspotted maple and one with a walnut tree. But my city collects leaves and there are delicious piles of oak leaves and healthy maple leaves everywhere. And I have a big rotating composter - bless the previous owner. I have raised beds and bins.

So cool - in addition to the classes we have been offered, free (other pay $40) a series of classes in addition to the program. I, for one, know nothing about evergreens, having rejected them for my yard. But others need to know about them, so there are programs about spruces, insects and pollinators (with emphasis on colony collapse), a program called All About Tomatoes and one about the effects of drought. We are still in one.

This business of peat and sand is funny because I think, probably my own fault, that I gave the impression I was contemplating using sand. I was just passing on a story. I'm not planning to grow in the ground anything that needs drainage that sharp.

And yes, I agree with you that the program has wonderful value for someone who actually gardens. I already know some things from many years of observation, but it's great to know why - after all, I need to help others who may have yards full of evergreens. And I have a way of keeping up to date with all the developments, since 30 hours of continuing education are required each year.

I'm in heaven.

I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't know oak leaves were good for the garden. In my neighborhood (subdivision), there's a couple of homes that have oak trees and I always (year after year) have oak leaves blow into our yard.

I'll have to make sure I gather everyone of them up!

BTW, still waiting for HCG to 'ramp up' their mail order business! Can't wait! So excited!

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Marilyn..yup oaks are at the top of the list of best!

Thanks! :)

Just by chance, I just now clicked onto the HCG site and saw a new message!!!

This is what it says!

Limited time offer.....

Pre-order your plants NOW, and save 20%

Use coupon code preorder20

Offer valid through Feb. 20, 2013

Didn't get an email yet from them, so I don't know if the new message was just put on or not.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Marilynbeth ~ A big THANK YOU! I have been shopping with them for years. Does anyone know who bought them?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I don't think anyone bought them--the owners just found a way to keep the mail order portion of their business alive.

Quote from ecrane3 :
I don't think anyone bought them--the owners just found a way to keep the mail order portion of their business alive.

That's what I was thinking too.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I was wrong (although I don't think they had said anything about this before--all they'd said previously was that they found a way to keep the mail order business open). They just posted on Facebook today that they were bought by American Meadows: https://www.facebook.com/notes/high-country-gardens/information-on-high-country-gardens-american-meadows/10151445063349320

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Remember when IB bought Dave's Garden? Dave was to be retained....etc, etc....

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

More importantly, have you seen the reviews for American Meadows? Not terrific:


I have learned to be very wary of even the best companies once they are acquired. Edmund's Roses was a Watchdog 20 company, from which I ordered several spectacular roses as well as gauntlet gloves, sprayer, and fertilizer. Phil Edmunds answered his phone, and your emails. Their acquisition by Jung turned them into, well, not a Watchdog 20.

The same with Heronswood.

Sad. Caveat emptor.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Yeah, I was just reading the reviews...

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

OH NO. Well there goes HCG. I think American Meadows will make big changes and ruin a premiere company. Can anyone think of a single instance where a great nursery was bought by a larger company and they improved?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I like to stay optimistic--there's always a first time for everything! LOL I agree though, I've never seen things improve when a nursery's been bought by a larger company. I'll probably experiment by placing a small order and see what happens before committing to anything larger.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

OK, you be sure to let us know how it goes, OK? Thanks!

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