As professional gardeners its our job to know where to find the best plants. Increasingly we are buying plants online to make sure we have the best and most unique things growing in our gardens.
I thought I would take you inside my design notebook. I want to give you a glimpse of where we will be looking for new plants for the gardens at Coastal Maine Botanic Garden. Over the winter, we’re working on a full slate of garden redesigns and planting enhancements, as most gardeners do in the off season. Throughout the summer, I walked the gardens with our garden staff and made notes on strong combinations and weak planting pockets. We are taking this list of improvements back into the office now that the ground is frozen and we are cross-referencing it with the growing lists of cool plants coming onto the market.
If you are doing the same, these are some of the top nurseries that we (the pros) are using to refine our wishlists of plants and nail down our improvements and plant orders for next spring.
The top nurseries for finding and buying unique plants online:
There are certainly more nurseries that could be on this list. Admittedly this list is also heavy on east coast operations (because that’s where we’re located). Even with mail order, it is better to buy as close to home as you can. This is our list of the best places to buy outdoor plants online:
This mail-order nursery from New Jersey has one of the best selections of unusual woody plants for the mid-Atlantic and New England. I will make a lengthy list of flowering trees and shrubs from Rarefind.
Broken Arrow is a Connecticut institution founded by Richard Jaynes that was made famous with all of his mountain laurel introductions. Like Rarefind, Broken Arrow specializes in extremely unusual shrubs and small trees (as well as mountain laurels).
Landcraft is the go-to nursery for unusual tropical plants for the mid-Atlantic and New England. They are located on Long Island and have become synonymous for over-the-top, wow annuals. We bought a truck load of online plants from Landcraft for the gardens this past summer. When the plants arrived in late May, our staff oohed and aahed over them.
Opus is a craft “nano-nursery” in Little Compton, Rhode Island that specializes in perennials you cannot find anywhere else.
If you are looking for top-notch, wholesale perennials for New England, Van Berkum in New Hampshire is the place. Everybody you meet that works at Van Berkum is nice, knowledgable and polite. Plus, their plants are beautiful and they will not ship them until they are perfect.
There are just some things that you cannot get anywhere other than at Plant Delights. Owner, Tony Avent is always on the search for new and unusual perennials. The catalog that Tony writes each year can be pretty funny, if not irreverent.
Camellia Forest came to fame with their hardy camellias. Today, they not only offer camellias, but also offer unusual woody and perennial plants.
This nursery from Washington State sells a lot of plants that we would love to try but just cannot buy here on the east coast. If you are on the west coast – this is a great place to buy online plants. We have ordered quite a few plants for the gardens at CMBG that have done quite well in our Maine environment.
If I am having a hard time finding a certain plant, I will ultimately see if this California nursery has it in stock. Most of the time, they will have it. Their plant offerings are quite impressive.
Pine Knot is the place to go for hellebores. Owners, Dick and Judith Tyler are two of the nicest people you could ever meet.
For vegetable plants and fruit trees, this Maine based company is the one to look to for the New England vegetable garden. Along with Fedco Seeds, we also check for availability from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Bonus – A couple of our Favorite places to Buy Garden Pots:
And if you are looking for new containers (so you can grow more stuff!) – these are the two companies that we love.
If you ever want a one of a kind planting pot that will last forever, this Maine based company hand makes each pot using a custom process that protects them from cracking in frost.
A Lunaform pot is a work of art but if we need a lot of pots for a massing, Campania International has some outstanding pots to use in the garden. They are not frost-proof so they will need to be protected each winter.
Are there other nurseries on your list that you think we should check out as well? What are some of your favorite places to buy plants and containers online?
image: Sanguisorba ‘Midnight child’ – Available from Opus Plants
You might also like these plant and online buying posts:
Smart Plant shopping tips to get the best late season bargains at the Plant Nursery (this post is great for learning how to find a bargain!)