Cuttings: Mail disorder

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The Independent Online
'I HAVE given up ordering plants and bulbs by mail order,' writes Camilla Watkins of Badsey near Evesham, Worcestershire. 'My natural enthusiasm and optimism are firmly and, at last, successfully squashed.

'I find that most suppliers are better with bulbs than with plants, on the whole, but have had some sad failures with fritillaries - F. meleagris mixed (de Jager) and F. imperialis (de Jager). For the first time I ordered from van Tubergen last year (7 September) and was very disappointed that they could not supply F. meleagris alba or Allium christophii. The Allium careruleum which they sent were really pathetic, shrivelled and tiny. I've ended up with refunds for more than half my order which didn't arrive until 21 November.

'Worse than all this were problems with herbaceous plants. None of the following (all from de Jager) were what I ordered: Papaver 'Perry's White' was 'Picotee'; Lychnis arkwrightii was L. chalcedonica and I already had two of those; Rudbeckia, supposedly the shortish 'Goldsturm' was 6ft tall and I'd planted it near a border's edge; Heuchera 'Green Ivory' had red flowers instead of green; Cyclamen coum were C. hederifolium; Begonia pendula were the wrong colours.

There's a most enterprising W I plant stall in Evesham every week from Easter to October and I've discovered Bob Brown's wonderful Cotswold Garden Flowers nursery in Badsey. No more mail order for me.'

De Jager's express surprise that, despite her dissatisfaction, Mrs Watkins has placed 10 orders with them. They also point out that any plant inadvertently sent out under the wrong name will be replaced without question, either by another plant or a credit note.

Their nursery stock is raised in Holland. Very occasionally, plants are wrongly supplied by growers and since one rudbeckia looks much like the next in its dormant state, plants that are sent out in good faith turn out to be not as named. Since de Jager keep their own checks on stock planted out in nursery beds, they are, they say, usually aware of any disparities before their customers.