August 19, 2011

the cut flower series: suppliers of seeds, bulbs and plants


After blethering on about so many wonderful flowers to try in a cutting patch last week, I thought it only fair to point you in the direction of some fantastic suppliers. Except it isn't really fair because I can only recommend UK suppliers, so if you are reading this from 'broad would you be lovely enough to share any great suppliers you have found in your home country in the comments section after this post, to spread the flowery joy further, so to speak? And fellow Brits, please add your own faves in the comments, I'm sure we'd all LOVE to discover some new places to browse! The list below represents my absolute favourites, and whilst there are hundreds of suppliers out there, these lot, well they are, as my lovely dad would say, top-hole wizard!!


My first port of call for inspiration and supplies is the Sarah Raven website. Seeds, bulbs, corms, plants - they are all there in season. I posted more about it here. She also sends out a cracking catalogue - this is glossy magazine stuff, beautifully photographed and extremely provoking of the wantywanties!  Sarah just seems to have a fairly unerring eye for form and colour and cut flowers are her first love, so even if it is just for ideas rather than purchases, her site is worth a gander. I just think she has brilliant taste and a cavernous knowledge of cut flowers,  which makes her an obvious supplier for me. (Apparantly her mother finds many of her choices vulgar - I heard her say that with her mum in earshot, and she nodded!) Anyway you will find almost all the plants I have listed in her shop. If they are too expensive, and that is my only gripe - it is on the spenny side - there are of course other suppliers selling most, though by no means all, her selection. She does spend part of the year sourcing new and interesting flower varieties in Europe, so some stuff is hard to find elsewhere and gives some of her flowers the buzz of being new and different. See what you think.


A supplier extraordinaire of top notch plants - and favoured by designers for their truly mahoosive selection, their ability to supply for huge orders and the fantastic condition in which their plants seem to arrive. Very impressive in my experience, but again, not the cheapest by any means. Is top quality ever cheap?
As Farrow and Ball is to paint, as it were.

I wrote a post about this super Irish company here. Fantastic for interesting seed varieties with the best instructions and information I have ever seen. Really helpful on the phone/internet too if you have any queries.


A huge Dutch-based bulb and plant supplier that always sends a catalogue through my door each season. If you are planting in big numbers the wholesale catalogue is breathtakingly cheap and the quality seems fine. No frills, few thrills but good value and covers the basics, especially good for tulips, alliums and narcissi.

Another excellent Dutch company selling in the UK. A great selection, and a few unusual ones to pique interest. Definitely worth a look.

A good, long established and award-winning supplier with a wide range of plants, reasonably priced too.

Your local horticultural nursery
Best of all, check out your local horticultural nurseries, there is sure to be one or two somewhere not too far from where you live.  This way you get to see what you are buying and ask as many questions as you like - that expert knowledge, the selling of plants that do well in your local area, and the pleasure of buying local all thrown in for free! Mine does 20% off all plants on a Thursday. Funny how often I am 'just passing' on a Thursday!

I'm hoping that has whetted your appetite for some floral retail therapy. September is the perfect time for planting bulbs, plants and many seeds. Oh, and it is September any minute, how handy!!


Next Friday, a few tips about a free and very satisfying way of increasing the flowers in your garden for free - collecting seed and other ways of propagating. xx


******* 

Just copy and pasted some fantastic sounding suppliers that lovely readers have shared in their comments, the first 3 referring are UK companies, and the others are U.S. Suppliers - thanks Jan, Foxtail Lily, Pauline, Webb, Edi and Jane!

I buy most of my seeds from Chiltern Seeds. I find they have nearly everything I look for, including most of Sarah Raven's choices. The catalogue which comes through the post doesn't have pics (although that does make you feel like a professional plantsperson!) but most of the varieties have photos online. Would very much recommend them. 




I would not buy from Parkers -since all my Rip city Dahlias from them were not true-bright red! Purple Dahlias were orange.. etc, etc. The customer care was dreadful-no `Sorry, or money back-BEWARE!!








Another good seed firm is near us in Devon,
www.plant-world-seeds.com
They have a fantastic selection and are always very helpful

I spent a good bit of Tuesday looking at the big commercial seed companies in the U.S. (Park Seed, Burpee Seed and a new one (to me) Johnny's Seeds) and while no one had all of them, I was able to find just about everything you recommended. I am hoping that someone in the US who is already knowledgeable about quality will list where they shop. I understand there are lots of good small seed companies, but have no experience.
For bulbs I can recommend Brent and Becky's Bulbs, which is a smaller Virginia supplier but quite good. For perennial plants High Country Gardens is wonderful, and White Flower Farms has an excellent reputation. I don't think they sell seeds. 



Webb, I think Colorblends.com offers the best price and quality. I have ordered over 8000 bulbs from them and every single one thrived. I also like KVB wholesale for tulips and casa blanca lilies.

I find Flower Farm overpriced and loaded with grubs. My favorite perennial catalog is Bluestone Perennials and of course Klehm Song Sparrow. They offer wholesale as well. I forgot another gem is Willow creek gardens. 100 Cafe Au Lait dahlia tubers for less then $ 100.






http://www.plantdelights.com/


http://www.eat-it.com/



21 comments:

  1. Thanks for all the info, unfortunately most of the suppliers are out of my reach moneywise I do try and grow most of my stuff from seeds as the economic option and cuttings of course. As usual your pics are exemplary. I particularly like your chatty style of prose. Keep up the good work.

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  2. Have just requested a catalogue from Sarah Raven on your recommendation!
    Thanks for the info.
    Julie x

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  3. Hello Belinda:
    We are so pleased to see your recommending local nurseries for plants. Too often in our experience are these overlooked in favour of the ubiquitous Garden Centre and they are, as you say, very often sources of the most wonderful and interesting plants with amazingly good advice given free.

    In our gardening days our bulbs always came from Parkers and they were always of good quality. The range is amazing and, as you say, they represent fantastic value for planting in large numbers. Indeed, at their prices, one feels that one can afford drifts rather than drops!!!

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  4. Thank you so much Belinda. I can feel an attack of the wantywainties coming on right now. We are so lucky in our area to be surrounded by knowledgeable nurseries and growers. Nothing beats the plop of those gorgeous seed catalogues through the letter box though.

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  5. I spent a good bit of Tuesday looking at the big commercial seed companies in the U.S. (Park Seed, Burpee Seed and a new one (to me) Johnny's Seeds) and while no one had all of them, I was able to find just about everything you recommended. I am hoping that someone in the US who is already knowledgeable about quality will list where they shop. I understand there are lots of good small seed companies, but have no experience.

    For bulbs I can recommend Brent and Becky's Bulbs, which is a smaller Virginia supplier but quite good. For perennial plants High Country Gardens is wonderful, and White Flower Farms has an excellent reputation. I don't think they sell seeds.

    My small area may be morphing into something a bit larger... if the weather cools down a bit and I can work the soil!

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  6. Elaine, very good point, I will be discussing propogation next week.

    Julie, eek, don't blame me for the ensuing hole in your current account!! I know you'll love it!

    Jane and Lance, yes, there are so many reasons why local nurseries are so precious to gardeners, I just hope they can keep going.

    Susan, nurseries and top quality mail order are a fantastic combination.

    Webb, thank you, thank you for such great info for U.S. growers, thanks for taking the time, you're the best! Sooo excited about your expanding cutting patch. xx

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  7. Belinda, really useful information, many thanks. Have a wonderful weekend, love Linda x

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  8. Hi Belinda, As usual great informative post... cheeky request, can you do a post on what you consider to be good planting combinations? x

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  9. I buy most of my seeds from Chiltern Seeds. I find they have nearly everything I look for, including most of Sarah Raven's choices. The catalogue which comes through the post doesn't have pics (although that does make you feel like a professional plantsperson!) but most of the varieties have photos online. Would very much recommend them. Jan x

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  10. Belinda, what a lovely list of untouchable suppliers.

    Whenever I travel, here or abroad I bring back seed packets or if GG's around, a pocketfull of seeds that we plant in an attempt to extend our holidays indefinitely.

    What a heyday I'd have in England!

    Here are two links to two internet nurseries that I've used and loved.

    Seeds I pick up everywhere, even at Whole Foods.

    But if I want something delish to eat I go to Edible Landscaping. They can make a summer:)

    xo Jane



    http://www.plantdelights.com/

    http://www.eat-it.com/

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  11. Webb, I think Colorblends.com offers the best price and quality. I have ordered over 8000 bulbs from them and every single one thrived. I also like KVB wholesale for tulips and casa blanca lilies.
    I find Flower Farm overpriced and loaded with grubs. My favorite perennial catalog is Bluestone Perennials and of course Klehm Song Sparrow. They offer wholesale as well.

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  12. I forgot another gem is Willow creek gardens. 100 Cafe Au Lait dahlia tubers for less then $ 100.

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  13. Edi Gardner and Jane - thanks so much. I assume there are better places than Park and Burpee, but haven't even started with seeds on a large scale before. This is daunting! but fun! webb

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  14. Hi Belinda, thankyou so much for your comments, glad you enjoyed the pics. Many thanks for your warm wishes too. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, love Linda x

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  15. I would not buy from Parkers -since all my Rip city Dahlias from them were not true-bright red! Purple Dahlias were orange.. etc, etc. The customer care was dreadful-no `Sorry, or money back-BEWARE!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks so much for these excellent tips, Belinda. I may well indulge in a bit of Sarah Raven next Spring. I've resisted so far. It sounds as though it may be worth ordering the catalogue just to look at it!

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  17. Another good seed firm is near us in Devon,

    www.plant-world-seeds.com

    They have a fantastic selection and are always very helpful

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  18. Sarah Raven can seem pricey.... but wait till near the end of the season and stock is massively reduced It will still be fine but flower later. This is a great way to increase stock - especially bulbs - you will even end up with some which may not have been 'on your list' - but will become new favourites!

    Suppliers in South Africa are few and far between. Many varieties of seed available in the UK are not available here, even though they would grow very well.

    I'm off to a the main garden show next month - hoping to find some importers! T&M say they will no longer send here because of the chaos of SA Dept of Agric over import permits - Sarah Raven won't even try!!

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