At the Nursery
Whenever I need information on plants, a local nursery is the best place to start. Here I can talk with an expert, especially important when I'm looking for large and expensive tress and shrubs. Some nurseries have display gardens that give an idea of how the plants look as they mature. Nurseries are also the best place to buy unusual annuals and perennials. I always buy my vegetable plants from nurseries because they have a good selection of varieties that do best in my local climate. But nurseries charge more than other retailers. My local nursery here in Vermont gets $2.39 for a pack of common annuals like impatiens and $16 for a flat of eight-packs. They charge $3.99 for a 4-in. potted perennial. Not too bad for a nursery but still 30 to 100 percent higher than my local home center. But for in-depth advice, plant variety and service, nurseries earn their markup. Follow these rules to get the most for your money at a nursery: Make friends.
Get to know employees or even the owners. They'll tell you what has been growing well for them and what hasn't. They may even clue you in on upcoming sales, or offer a discount. When shopping at a small nursery, ask questions, solicit suggestions, explain your landscape situation. You pay for service, so take advantage of it. Be patient.
Unless you're in a hurry to plant, it pays to wait for sales. In June, my local nursery holds an "All you can carry for $10 sale." Examine the merchandise.
Find a nursery with a low-pressure, no-hassle attitude, where they will let you take time to find the very best plants.
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