Buying plants from a distant provider is not without risks but the practice has a long history. Seeds were the first plant item shipped by mail commercially but were soon followed by bulbs, roots and rooted cuttings. As the U.S. Postal Service standardized its techniques, bare-root plants were commonly mailed to gardeners in the early part of this century. Depending on nothing more than hyperbolic descriptions in a paper catalog was standard practice for rural gardeners.
I received two big boxes of bulbs last week and a crate of perennials the week before that. I had looked at the bulb offerings at local garden centers and found nothing I hadn’t seen before so I bought some butterfly narcissus and some dog-tooth violet bulbs online.
My favorite source of perennials via the mail has to be Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina . Their catalogs, spiced with terrific information and enormous humor from owner Tony Avent, are collectors items. I stash my credit card in an ice cube tray in the freezer when a new catalog arrives so I won’t be tempted into bankruptcy.
The best source of information on plant shopping by mail is the Garden Watchdog .It lists dozens of catalogs and the unvarnished opinions of customers who have ordered from them. With that knowledge in hand, you can confidently purchase unusual and distinctive plants from honorable vendors across the country.
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