For a change of pace, today I can report an entirely satisfactory delivery.
I ordered 10 Fuchsia plants from The Earthworks. I didn't go to the main site, which sells small starts for 75 cents each, although that sounds like a good idea too. I went to the ZenCart annex, which sells plants in 2 1/2" pots for $3.25.
I had bought little Fuchsias from Pedricks Corner in the past. Their plants are only $3.00 each, but they sell only upright Fuchsias, they have a much smaller selection, and the packing and labeling are inferior to this new source.
Pedricks sends barely rooted cuttings in baggies and labels the baggies. Even if you bury the baggies partway to show the name of the plant, the writing fades away as soon as you start watering your garden in earnest. I really resent the extra step of making my own labels, so I was pleased that The Earthworks has nice printed labels for each plant.
All 10 were sent in a flat-rate priority box, so I paid only $11.35 in shipping. I ordered them on March 15th and was asked when I wanted them delivered. I said "before March 23rd". They were mailed on Monday, the 19th. I received e-mail notification of that with a confirmation number, and they arrived this morning on the 21st.
Each plant in the box is wrapped separately in newspaper. Under the newspaper, the pot is encased in a plastic bag, secured by tape to contain the planting medium.
Here are all 10 of the little beauties.
I bought: Sheryl Ann, Heidi Ann, Baron de Kettler, Ovation, Golden Anniversary, Pink Marshmallow, Lena, Deep Purple, Royal Mosaic, and Veenlust.
The website is a little wonky. There aren't enough buttons to push for site navigation, so you have to go to the site map to find links for FAQ's and other useful info.
This is a great source for Fuchsias. They sell trailing and upright varieties and have a huge selection. Today they're listing 160 trailing varieties and 208 upright varieties.
How do I hate J&P? Let me count the ways.
1. The website is horrible. When you place an order, you're informed that you will get a confirmation e-mail with the order number. You don't get one. When you try to learn the status of your order on the website, you constantly get a message saying you can't have any information unless you provide your e-mail address. You could enter your e-mail address (or anyone else's, just as an experiment) a hundred times and you'd still get a reply asking for your e-mail address.
2. They procrastinate. When you finally call to talk to a human being, he gives you a confirmation number and a shipping date. In my case, the date he gave me was 5 months early. I ordered five roses during the half-price sale in September. He said they would be delivered by late October at the latest. They arrived today -- March 19th.
3. They pack the roses in styrofoam peanuts. I hate styrofoam peanuts. They're bad for the environment, and I do have the option of taking them to a mailing service center for recycling, but I have no car, and I don't relish the idea of walking a couple of miles with a bag of styrofoam peanuts.
4. The plants are inferior. They're packed with a nice straw cover to keep them moist, but they've obviously been traveling for a while because the new growth is pale for lack of light. In this next photo, please notice the broken cane on the right (you'll have to enlarge to see it).
It doesn't look that much better after the straw is removed, but it actually is the best of the five they sent. Gone are the days of big and beautiful bare-root J&P roses to mark the start of the planting season. They now send tiny, sickly, and broken own-root roses.
These five are Shazam (the third one I've tried; J&P own-root roses are just plain lousy!), J&P Sangria, Caribbean Breeze, Raspberry Swirl, and Tropical Sun. The last three have no registration name listed on the invoice, on the website, and in the catalog. They're also not listed on helpmefind.com. That could mean that J&P simply renamed some earlier roses (which I probably already have). Grrrr!
Luckily, I bought them at half-price, but even at half-price they don't seem worth the money. $11.37 for J&P Sangria and $9.98 each for the other four.
They did one good thing. They sent an unexpected free gift in the package. Ten nice engravable metal markers. You'll have to enlarge the photo to see them in all their glory.
These five roses probably will live in pots for a long time, if not forever. I have to use gopher cages for the roses that go into the ground, and I'm not sure these warrant the extra cost of a cage. To paraphrase a "Seinfeld" reference, I'm not sure they're "cageworthy." The Seinfeld thing is too risque to explain in a public blog, but you "Seinfeld" fans will know what I'm talking about.
When Sue and I shop for plants, we always check out the African Daisies (Osteospermum) because they grow so well in our climate. In fact, we call them Freeway Daisies around here because they take so little care that they can be planted in the median strips of freeways.
The last time Sue and I were at Cottage Gardens, we checked out the Freeway Daisies as usual and discovered a new cultivar.
Not only was it new (well, new to us anyway), but it was also the only one on sale at half-price. Furthermore, not only was it new and on sale, but it was also spooned (I love spooned and quilled blooms). And not only was it new and on sale and spooned, but its name is Elena (and that's my name too). Talk about a perfect match.
I really love the people at BigBadFlower.com. They had sent me five of the six Hibiscus plugs I had ordered because they were sold out of one. They charged me for six, however, so I notified them of the overcharge by e-mail. I received a response the same day from the owner of the company, who offered me a refund or a replacement Hibiscus of my choice. I asked for a replacement and told him I wanted Heat Flash or Delta Dawn in case Heat Flash was sold out. A few days later I received both Heat Flash and Delta Dawn for free.
I was so delighted that I placed another order. I placed the order on a Saturday, the plants were shipped on Tuesday, and I received them on Thursday. This place doesn't procrastinate. This time I ordered Madame Dupont, Blueberry Thrill, Floral Fantasy, Gabriel, Swamp Music, and Tsunami. Once again, the shipping for all six was only $6.00 and the plugs were $6.86 each.
Now a less happy update: Most of the roses I received from Hortico are suffering badly from dieback. I've already had to trim the canes numerous times to get down to live wood, so I guess this is the last time I'll order from Hortico.
Each new rose delivery seems to be worse than the one before. This one came from S&W Greenhouse yesterday. I ordered seven roses and they sent six. I'll have to make sure they don't charge me for the seventh. The ones they sent are Camara, Luscious, Twilight Zone, Bulls Eye, Stainless Steel, and Hollywood Star. They left out Colossus, but they had been spelling it "Colussus," so maybe they just couldn't find it under their spelling.
The packing method is simpler than simple. They lump them together in a plastic bag, tape the bag shut, and put the bag in a packing box. I was a little worried about mildew because the condensation drops inside the bag were white, but I think that had more to do with the mineral content of their water.
They don't look so bad from a distance, although I wish they had sent them to me before they started growing. Now all of that new growth will have to be pulled off the roses before they're planted because this kind of growth doesn't do well after it turns white from lack of light.
They may not look bad from a distance, but look at them close up. This one is Luscious and most of the canes are already dead. That odd-looking horizontal stick across the top, by the way, is a big piece of root they snapped off while they were packing it.
After getting rid of the obviously dead parts, I'm left with this -- no one's idea of a grade #1 rose.