I am happy with all my plants and all the nurseries I ordered from this year. I would order from any one of them again. Here a few things I learned along the way:
SIZE MATTERS: I ordered a few plants that were seedlings. I potted them up for a bit before planting them in the garden but I don't think I really need to do so. Mostly I was worried they were so small I would step on them or pull them out thinking they were a weed! What I learned: Look around your garden in the fall for seedlings. If I had done this I would have discovered I had a number of seedlings of the ones I ordered.
I also ordered two Witch Hazels that were offered in different sizes so I could decide if I was willing to wait for them to grow or wanted an instant effect. Often nurseries will have plants for sale in different size containers, so always check if that's an option.
BREAKING THE BANK: Are you willing to chance finding a coveted plant in your town come spring vs being willing to pay shipping charges to guarantee getting what you want? That's really what online ordering is all about. If you have not done much of this before, here are a couple of things to consider.
First, many nurseries offer discounts for early ordering and/or early payment, meaning when you place your order not when it is shipped.
Second, where you live makes a difference. Typically pricing is affected by which side of the Mississippi River you live on and which side the nursery is on. Thus I paid dearly for plants from nurseries in California and Washington state compared to nurseries in the Midwest and East Coast.
YOU WILL FORGET: In January I am helpless when I see so many wonderful plants out there to buy. Thus I need pictures of the garden to see if there is really space to plant anything. Also to remember what plants are next to that empty spot that might influence my purchases. Take wide views of your garden beds not just close-ups of favorite plants. Looking closely at the garden when putting it to bed — and making notes to remind yourself of what you have and want — will save you money and madness.
SPACE OUT: Nurseries ask you to specify when you want your plants delivered. Sometimes they have particular dates that you need to work with and sometimes you just give them the week you want the plants shipped. If you are ordering from more than a couple of nurseries, space out the delivery dates. I foolishly told everyone to ship my plants the last week in April, so I was inundated with too many plants in a short time span. Add in a sudden cold turn in the weather and I quickly felt stressed instead of excited at my haul.
KEEPING TRACK: Seven of the nine nurseries I ordered from sent me an email notice when they shipped my plants with the ability to track the shipment. This is really helpful if you are ordering a lot and even if you're not. I liked knowing what was coming when.
PHOTO INFO (from the top): Hamamelis vernalis 'Quasimodo'/Rare Find Nursery; Geranium phaeum var. lividum 'Rose Madder'/Geraniaceae; Pelargonium 'Bird Dancer'/Avant Gardens; Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold'/Digging Dog. This last plant was purchased last year but great results with everything I've ordered from Digging Dog sent me back this spring for more.
Here is the entire list of reviews for each nursery:
Odyssey Perennials / Massachusetts
Far Reaches Farm, Port Townsend, WA
Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, NC
Rare Find Nursery, Jackson, NJ
Old House Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI
Geraniaceae, Kentfield, CA
Avant Gardens, Dartmouth, MA
Arrowhead Alpines, Fowlerville, MI
Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery, Avalon, WI