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Re: Heronswood

I grow some of my own annuals, but have limited grow light space. I  
check my local stores - one grows many of its annuals - but usually  
find that as far as perennials are concerned, they don't have the  
species/varieties I'm looking for . The other issue is that when I  
look for a plant, it is not just 'one'  -- I generally want 3 - 6.  
Then price does become an issue for me (size is less so - plants  
grow). Shrubs are a whole other story. I look for healthy, small  
plants that will more easily adapt to my location. Most of my local  
nurseries carry the same varieties, and they insist on selling me a  
large plant. I understand that most homeowners want something well on  
the way to maturity, but I want an adaptable plant that I don't have  
to cut a wide swath through tree roots to plant. Have never been  
successful in convincing a nursery to sell me a shrub in less than a  
gallon container.

Cathy, west central IL, z5b

On Jun 1, 2006, at 12:19 PM, Christopher P. Lindsey wrote:

>> 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.
> Ahhh.
> 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
> plants.
> 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.
> Chris
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