Keep an eye out for the unusual when ordering plants – The Detroit News

Im a big fan of shopping locally, however, for me locally is where I am at the moment. I road-trip with a bunch of hortiholics throughout the year. But there are some plants I get the hots for that I cant find in garden centers, such as Liriope muscari Okina. Also called Frosted Monkey Grass, its leaves turn from stark white in spring to a speckled light green during bloom time at summers end. I found it in the Plant Delights Nursery, www.plantdelights.com, (919) 772-4794, a collection of hundreds or rare and unusual plants.

Brent and Beckys Blubs Summer-Flowering Bulbs Catalogue, www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com, (877) 661-2852, is packed with unusual selections, including the all-white Caladium Moonlight. Caladiums have skyrocketed in popularity as a replacement for impatiens. The variegated white- and green-leafed Stuttgart canna is another knockout.

The variegated-leafed Knautia Thunder and Lighting from Blue Stone Perennials, www.bluestoneperennials.com, (800) 852-5243, also caught my eye. Bluestone now plants all their plants in biodegradable pots.

Raintree Nursery, www.raintreenursery.com, (800) 391-8892, specializes in fruit and nut plants, shrubs and trees, and has lots of unusual edibles.

Oikos Tree Crops (www.oikostreecrops.com) in Kalamazoo also specializes in unusual edibles, such as a pecan tree hardy to Michigan. They also sell seeds. To get a paper catalog, email your address to customerservice@oikostreecrops.com.

New plant catalogs are arriving in my mailbox almost daily, and they make great winter reading. Tempting are the tab-sized editions that offer free gifts and penny sales. While perusing these bargains, keep in mind you get what you pay for in this world if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Plants and bulbs shipped by these discount catalog companies are often undersized and fail to bloom the first season or even thrive. And trying to get a promised refund can be frustrating. If you are unfamiliar with a company, check its reviews on Daves Gardens website Guide to Gardening by Mail, Mail Order Gardening and Catalogs (www.davesgarden.com/products/gwd) before ordering.

No matter what catalog you order from, follow these tips:

Read the return policy prior to ordering. Keep a copy of your order and all your paperwork included in the shipment and the shipping label for the length of the guarantee. If you have special needs, such as a specific arrival date, specify that on your order. If you receive plants that you believe are not up to par for any reason, contact the company immediately. Reputable companies will do their best to make you happy.


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