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Re: Heronswood

> Chris- your 5 flats of annuals are normally purchased
> at a big box store.. around here anyways, the smaller
> places that have the unusual perennial plants also
> have annuals that are a tad better (different
> varieties/colors of the standard ones) but cost more.
> By supporting their other plants, it helps them get
> thru the year and on to the next.


Part of it is that I don't feel any real loyalty to the only nursery
around me selling annuals:  Prairie Gardens.  They've been very 
unfriendly to me and a hort professor that I know when we wanted 
to photograph plant leaves and buds for classroom use, so I say
screw 'em.  :)

I do buy some perennials from them when they have interesting stuff,
but they're not my primary source.

The other reason that I have is that I don't believe in supporting 
middleman nurseries.  

If a nursery is getting plants from the same place as a big box
store, they deserve to lose my business.  They can't compete and
they're not offering anything new.  If they grew their own plants,
I'd probably buy some (I do that for some nurseries in Chicago). 
But when they get a truckload in the spring and just lay them out
like Osco and Walgreens do, what's the benefit?

Then they throw in 'specialty annuals' from Proven Winners that cost
an arm and a leg because they're marketed through PW.  There's not much
competition any more now that PW is dominating the market, so the prices
can go way up.  Now if I want a dark red coleus I have to pay $5/pot
because they're not going to carry 'regular' packs of the same color

I found a hardware store here in town that gets their stuff delivered 
from Michigan.  Yes, they're a middleman, but they've adjusted their
prices to compete.  This place in Michigan has their own line that 
competes with PW, but at a much lower cost.  I purchased 10 extremely
healthy sweet potato vines (light green and dark, but not named
cultivars) for $1.59 each less a 15% discount for being a U of I 
employee.  I also picked up four heliotropes for $2.59 each with the
same discount -- much less than I could find anywhere else.  And, in
a way, I'm still helping the little guy out...

> Although I am not familiar with Heronswood's local
> operation, I am wondering if the 'locals' supported it
> enough. Did they just drop in to view the gardens or
> actually put their money there too... since the profit
> end was mailorder- which can be done from anywhere-
> the bottom line profits caused the nursery end to
> close.

Heronswood wasn't really open to the public except by appointment or
on special days like their Hellebore Open or Hydrangea Open.  The fact
that they were only accessible by ferry made things more complicated.

What I don't understand is why Burpee didn't just downsize Heronswood 
and treat them more as an R&D facility to feed new products into the
main Burpee line.  Right now it sounds like they're raping the inventory,
but there obviously won't be an influx of new blood.

I do know that there were other cost issues as well, but I don't think
I can go into details.  Certain ordinances and county stubborness would
have made running Heronswood a much more expensive endeavor, so I'm sure
that played a big part.  

It's ironic because Heronswood was such as strong supporter and
contributor to the community.  They were very charitable and profitable
for the county.


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