Reader Question: Where to find plants?

Independent garden centers, like Perennial Favorites in Rye, stock hardy native perennial plants, but mailorder provides another good option.

perennial-favorites-2009-blogYesterday I heard from a reader who let me know she was having trouble finding the plants I describe on this blog.

She wrote, “I make little notes and carry them with me to the garden centers, but haven’t had luck finding the plants you recommend.”

I had similar problems finding hardy native perennials when I started my Xeriscape in 2001. Fortunately a lot has changed in the green industry over the years and more native plants are available now than ever before.

One way to find natives is to ask at your favorite independent garden center. Retailers will be more willing to stock hardy perennials if they know their customers will buy them. Let your garden center owner or manager know what you’re looking for and ask for help finding it.

If you don’t know where to find an independent garden center or the centers in your area don’t carry what you’re  looking for, here are my favorite resources to help you locate the plants I’ve been writing about on this blog:

Plant Select deserves a lot of credit for introducing new plants to the garden trade. The “Where to Buy” link on its website lists garden centers and nurseries that sell Plant Select recommended plants. There are retail outlets throughout the state from Fort Morgan to Grand Junction and places in between.

Plant Select has demonstration gardens throughout the state. It’s worth a trip to visit one of the gardens in your area to see what these plants look like at different times of the year and stages of development.

If there’s a demonstration garden in your city, but these plants aren’t locally available, it’s another opportunity to ask garden centers for their help in stocking them.

Plant Select plants are also available for ordering through catalogs or online retailers. My favorite is High Country Gardens in Santa Fe.

High Country Gardens offers Plant Select and many other hardy plants, but it also has its own plant breeding and introduction program. Plants from this program, like the 2009 Plant of the Year,  Penstemon ‘Blue Lips’, aren’t available from any other source.

I’ve ordered groundcovers, hardy garden perennials and flowering shrubs from High Country Gardens’ catalog and I’ve written about many of these plants on this blog. In addition, HCG has a comprehensive website with all kinds of planting information and an online plant finder, too.

High Country Roses, (not affiliated with High Country Gardens) is located near Vernal, Utah, and is the place to order hardy roses like Old Garden roses, shrub and species roses. New roses are added each year, like this year’s Burgundy Iceberg Floribunda.

Although some gardeners prefer not to order through the mail, I think mailorder is often better than purchasing in person because of the guarantees companies offer on the plants they send to their customers.

I’ve placed many catalog and website orders and I’ve only had one problem with one plant. After a quick call to the company’s customer service department, a healthy replacement plant was sent right away.

I’ve also written about plants that I’ve grown from seed. For seeds I turn to resources like Renee’s Garden, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Tomato Growers Supply Company and Gurneys Seed & Nursery.

Please let me know if you need more resources for finding the plants you want and I’ll do my best to track them down for you.


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