Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mail order plant shopping and why I do it



Here in Buffalo, I’m generally met with blank stares when I tell them about annuals and perennials I have purchased from on-line and print catalogs. Indeed, when the Urban Roots people surveyed me, they said I was the only person they’d talked to who “bought on the internet.”

I know many of my fellow garden bloggers are very familiar with ordering from catalogs, but for those who aren’t, give it a try! You buy everything else in your pajamas—why not plants? Or at least plants you’re not going to be able to find at your local nurseries.

Here are a few cultivars that to my knowledge are only available to me via mail/online order.

Unusual annuals in general: If you’re sick and tired of the impatiens/petunia/geranium scene at the local places, on-line is the only option. (This includes ordering seeds, of course.) Over the years, I’ve found unusual varieties of nicotiana, diascia, polygonum (or, as it is irresistibly known, Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate), lathyrus (sweet pea), and more. Though I must say this scene is getting better, at least in WNY.

As for perennials, I’ve bought:

Astrantia. I have never seen this in an area nursery. It’s a weird little plant, but I always get comments and its little blooms pretty much last the season—interesting foliage too.

Gallium verum. This is the tall version of sweet woodruff; it looks like baby’s breath, and thrives in wet or dry shade.

Geranium/cranesbill. You can now find many of the common varieties around, but no one has the selection that Bluestone has, or—sigh—Heronswood had.

Rudbeckia triloba. This is again an uncommonly tall version of a common plant (I like to pretend I’ve got a meadow going in my little courtyard), and it blooms conveniently late.

Verbena boniarensis. The nurseries around here just started carrying this, but I give people who bought it online the credit for popularizing it.

Anyway, I list my favorite vendors somewhere over on the sidebar. Sure, I’ll be spending lots of money locally (oh yes, indeed), but the final clincher for online purchasing is that you don’t have to wonder if your local places will carry your gotta-have plants—a nice bit of insurance for us compulsive types.

2 comments:

Ki said...

Isn't it strange that the local vendors carry only the most common varieties of plants? I'm sure if they had a greater selection of unusual annuals and perennials they would be pleasantly surprised that these sold well. People like variety... at least some people do. I have noticed that in the Northeast people seem to be more tradition bound and buy the same thing every year...this is the place the impatients go or here's were we plant the petunias or begonias.

Me, I'm looking for Corydalis, Asarum speciosum, Pteridophyllum racemosum, Osmanthus x burkwoodii, Exochroda racemosa or x macrantha etc. Even the mailorder catalogs don't offer some of these so I'm hunting them down using Google.

Paul said...

Heronswood is having some Garden Opens at the Fordhook

Farms in Doylestown, PA. The last one was very nice.

Picked up some nice hellebores.

http://www.mcall.com/features/custom/hg/garden/nurseries/all-gardenstopshops0427.5817119apr27,0,2361228.story

Future Opens
http://www.heronswood.com/openevents.asp