Garden Wisdom

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.."  -Alfred Austin



About Me

Jeff, Gardener in Chief

Contrary to popular opinion, some people in the Hamptons enjoy getting their hands dirty. I'm a self-taught gardener in East Hampton, NY that enjoys sharing my gardening experiences and inspiration with others. Hope you enjoy my blog and galleries.

Read more about me and my garden here.


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Entries in mail order (4)


Say It Ain't So

Rhododendron viscosum from Meadowbrook NurseryAm I the last to know?  The owners closed Meadowbrook Nursery ( last fall due to health reasons.  

I discovered this news while browsing some favorite online plant sources this week, looking for inspiration and ideas for native shrubs. was always a regular internet stop for my plant shopping.  I found the closing announcement when I landed on their homepage.

Meadowbrook Nursery supplied me with my first native summer-blooming azaleas more than 10 years ago. Much more pleasing than the showier Japanese azaleas that bloom in spring, the native white-flowering Rhododendron viscosum add fresh color and a sweet fragrance to my June borders. (Check out my post on these summer beauties here.)

It's always sad to see a favorite retailer go out of business. But this closing is especially sad.  They not only educated me on the beauty of native shrubs but provided me with wonderful plants that have matured and become part of the backbones of my Hamptons garden. Thank you Meadowbrook Nursery.  I wish you guys well and will miss you.

Their website is still up so I plan to study their plant collections thoroughly like good garden book for potential new native additions. Hopefully, I'll find a resource to fulfill this wish list.  





My Top Garden Mail-Order Companies

Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' from Bluestone Perennials

As promised, I wanted to share my favorite mail-order resources for plants.  After years of good and bad experiences, these companies have provided me with the best plants and service.  The following list is not in any particular order, and if I come across some new stand-outs this season, I'll report back.

Oakes Daylilies ( 1-800-532-9545
This daylily grower from Tennessee has an incredible selection.  They also send extra large fans (divisions) so your plants establish faster.  In the past, they've sent me bonus plants to try.  Their paper and online catalogs present each hybrid with clear pictures and good descriptions.  The online catalog allows you to quickly search selection by height, bloom size, bloom period, color and even fragrance.

Lazy S's Farm Nursery (
I found this delightful company a few years ago.  They have a great selection of plants online (they don't produce a mail catalog).  They have one of the largest selections of Anemones that I've found.  I also enjoy their wide range of ferns and grasses.  The perennials are mostly quart sizes and arrive big and healthy.  I haven't bought any shrubs or trees, but may peruse that department this season. Most of their pictures and growing information come from their own experiences.  Love that.

Bluestone Perennials ( 1-800-852-5243
This company has been a favorite of mine for many years. (My first post was about this nursery back in 2008.)  I love to browse through their glossy catalogs and then order online.  Until recently, you could buy a 3-pack of plants for a great price.  The plants were small, but allowed me to fill in large areas fast as I developed my first planting beds.  Now they sell plants individually in biodegradable pots. A bit more expensive but plants are bigger.  Check out their specials online.

Meadowbrook Nursery ( 1-828-738-8300
This North Carolina nursery was the resource for my first white native azaleas, Rhododendron viscosum.  They have an incredible collection of native azaleas and other native shrubs.  Plants arrive well-developed.

David Austin Roses ( 1-903-526-1800
The American outpost of British David Austin Roses is in Tyler, Texas.  This company is know for its English Roses. This variety of roses combine the fragrance of old roses with the repeat blooms and disease resistance of modern roses.  You may find potted David Austin roses locally, but I've had great success with their bare root roses planted early enough to acclimate before summer heat.

Wilkerson Mill Gardens ( 1-770-463-2400
I find a lot of my hydrangeas locally since they are a popular plant in the Hamptons.  However, when I want a hydrangea not found everywhere, I come here.  I bought my 'Pee-Wee' oakleaf hydrangeas and my stunning 'Purple Tiers' hydrangea from this company. I'm eyeing a Hydrangea serrata for this season.

Plant Delights Nursery ( 1-919-772-4794
If you're a plant collector like me, look no further.  This company prides itself on serving up some of the rarest perennials.  Fortunately, they also test-drive them in their North Carolina nursery.  I've ordered quite a few plants from Plants Delights that I would never have found locally.  But, I'll be honest.  My favorite part of shopping with this company is reading the fun, and sometimes irreverent, plant descriptions and commentary.  You can get a taste of it online, but order a paper catalog for a really fun read.

I'd love to hear your experiences with these or other mail-order sources.


You've Got Mail

 Just as the influx of post-holiday mailers started to dwindle, my mailbox started filling up with tons of gardening catalogs.  I'm not complaining.  In fact, these colorful brochures brighten gray winter days with promises of beautiful blooms ahead.   

If you're a plantaholic like me, these catalogs will immediately spur you to spend.  But wait!  Before you go to your phone or keyboard, let me share some of my tips on mail-order shopping.  After years of mail-ordering, I have learned some good lessons and enjoyed some fantastic plants.

Winter eye candy

1. Shop with a Purpose
I've purchased many alluring mail-order plants with no idea for their placement.  These impulse purchases sometimes wither and die in their plastic pots before I find them a perfect place (if I actually ever do).  I do much better with some sort of plan.  For example, if I need a punch of yellow in a mixed bed, these catalogs with their colorful photos help me quickly sort out some options.  In the past, I've even cut out catalog pics of interesting plants and arranged them on a board to compare their compatibility with regards to color and shape.  The final arrangement becomes my plan.
2. Be a cautious shopper
Don't be fooled by the glossy pictures.  Not all mail-order sources send healthy plants.  I'll share my personal favorite mail-order resources tomorrow.   In the meantime, check out Dave's Garden Watchdog, providing customer reviews for thousands of garden companies.  I frequently refer to this online listing when I discover a new mail-order resource.
3. Skip the usual suspects
If a cultivar is really popular, expect to find a bigger and possibly cheaper plant at your local nursery.  I have been known to hastily order popular perennials online in early spring before the local nurseries stock up.  Just as my pocket-sized purchases arrived at proper planting time, I found more mature plants of the same perennial at my favorite local nursery.  
4. Try something new
These mail catalogs (and their websites) have introduced me to quite a number of plants that I could never have found locally.  I love growing out-of-the-ordinary perennials and shrubs. Locally, trendy cultivars now replace many of the heirloom plants at nurseries.  Ironically, my best introductions to native plants have been through mail-order resources, not local growers.  My only advice when trying something new is to read and match the suggested growing conditions as best you can.
Long before they were sold locally, I found 'Raydon's Favorite' asters from a mail-order source


5. Patience is a virtue

Unfortunately, that big, beautiful plant blooming in your catalog will not arrive as pictured.  Production and shipping costs require most mail-order sources to send young plants.  Perennials will mature within a season or two and fill in nicely.  Most plants experience less transplant shock when younger anyway. Small shrubs and trees will take longer to mature than perennials, but I think watching a plant grow is part of the fun of gardening.  My favorite resources (list posted tomorrow) tend to ship bigger and healthier sizes.

This expansive patch of 'Hyperion' daylilies started off as 24 fans (divisions) from mail-order

6. Don't expect miracles
I love to push boundaries, but I've learned that you can't grow sunflowers in the shade or azaleas in dry sand.  The real lesson for me was to read and believe the growing advice printed in the catalogs.  Many of the better nurseries base their cultural information on real-life experiences. Trust them.  I've tried to outwit Mother Nature many times and lost.
7. Read the fine print
No two sources are the same so carefully read ordering information for each.  It'll provide shipping policies, delivery charges, plant size options and guarantees.  Many of these are small businesses so understand that they give you as much information as possible so you can make educated decisions.  If you have any questions, most nurseries can help you over the phone (email is like snail mail during prime season because they are generally out in the nursery, not at their desks).
8. Order early
If you have your eye on a particular plant, it's best to order early.  The closer it gets to prime planting season, the greater the chance stock will run out.  Plus many catalogs run preseason discounts.
9. Don't over do it
They say don't shop for groceries when you're hungry or you'll buy too much.  Similarly, the bleak days of winter can make us buy too many colorful additions to our garden.  And even if you do have a place for everything, do you actually have the time and energy to prep beds and plant huge deliveries of boxed plants before they die unattended?
10. Provide a welcoming reception
These babies have traveled for some distance and possibly handled by some pretty careless mail carriers. Open them up as soon as you can.  Gently lift them out of their packing and give them a drink of water. Keep them sheltered a day or two to get them acclimated to their new climate before planting.  And, if you've ordered too many to plant in a timely fashion (like I usually do), tend to them frequently as their small containers dry out easily.
Most of my native azaleas come from mail-order

 Happy shopping!