Sorry for the lull here. Have been terribly busy at my "real" job and with other projects as well. Blogging, unfortunately, takes a backseat to most other stuff...including actual gardening, which I've been doing a lot of as the weather permits. We've received over 3" of much-needed rain in the past 24 hours, though, so gardening has snitched the backseat away from blogging for the time being.
Been receiving lots of orders from various companies, with mixed results. I don't know whether I attribute it to general Old Lady Crankiness or just a higher expectation for better service, but I don't hesitate to bitch (or, at least, notify the company) now when I receive a plant order that I am less than satisfied with. Cases in point:
Annie's Annuals: The 'Ladybird' poppy and one of the sages died within days of my receiving them. I let them know, and they cheerfully replaced the plants within a matter of days. Both are now doing spectacularly. Big thumbs up for Annie's - they have SO much cool stuff, too.
Bluestone Perennials: They used a box that was MUCH too big for my recent order. The plants were just thrown in among some packing peanuts, completely unsecured. Dirt was everywhere. I had to dig one of the three spindly euphorbias out of the bottom of the box - disgraceful. I let them know, they apologized and told me to notify them if the plants didn't make it. I'm kind of down on Bluestone at the moment. They are nice people, but the plants I've received from them lately have been less than healthy-looking. They've slipped, in my opinion.
Forest Farm: As you may remember, I was all hot over the Gold Ring barberry featured recently in Garden Gate magazine, and ordered one from Forest Farm at the end of August, along with a Helmond Pillar barberry and a Golden Smoke Bush (cotinus). Well, I received my order the other day. No Gold Ring barberry, but a note on the invoice stating it was no longer available.
As you can imagine, I fired off an email to Forest Farm expressing my disappointment that they hadn't notified me about the Gold Ring, since it was the main reason I ordered from them at all.
I received a nice reply from Ray, one of Forest Farm's owners, apologizing and explaining that they were phazing out that particular berberis and thought they had called everyone who ordered one letting them know of such. (He also said Garden Gate didn't bother asking them about their available stock of the plant when the article was published.) Ray said that frankly, they didn't feel Gold Ring was all that great; the rings are hard to distinguish, apparently. And then he offered to give me a full refund for my entire order, a very nice gesture that I couldn't rightfully accept. But wow. Impressive.
Van Bourgondien (aka Dutchbulbs.com): Placed an order online for three items, as the catalog I had was advertising free shipping no matter what the merchandise total. Cool. I entered the code where applicable and away it went. A few days later, I got an email with the total...including a $10 shipping charge. I wrote to complain, and resubmitted my code. They sent an email back that the $10 shipping had been taken off. Keep an eye open when ordering from these folks...I've seen lots of complaints about them on gardenwatchdog.com.
Garden Crossings: No complaints here at all. Big, healthy plants, well-packed, at pretty good prices. They are currently running a season-end sale, plus free shipping on orders over $75. Don't miss out.
Now, my next project is to find a way to have all my plant purchases be tax deductible.