August 5, 2013

We Are Amused

I chuckled with Sarah at Galloping Horse Garden when she posted that the grasses she bought while dormant were not the grasses she thought she was getting. Totally different plants emerged in her garden that were completely unlike what she had hunted for and thought she found. The labels were just wrong and her excitement at getting just what she wanted was squashed.

And I giggled at the experience Heather at Just A Girl With a Hammer had with horrible service from the now defunct High Country Gardens. She ordered plants from the company that acquired the closed nursery, and received a shipment so utterly messed up it was hilarious.

Now both of those things have happened to me. A different plant than I wanted has emerged from a mislabled order I got from High Country Gardens. Badump.

Before they closed and were bought out, High Country Gardens offered the wonderfully interesting Lonicera reticulata 'Kintzley's Ghost'.  I saw this unusual honeysuckle vine growing at the botanic garden in Denver and absolutely had to have it. Had to.

It has yellow flowers and silvery bracts that give it a ghostly eucalyptus look. I wrote about it here. I saw a mature, bushy, silvery one on a garden tour this summer and loved it.

I got excited this spring as the vine I had planted last fall started climbing the trellis, and seemed to be thriving, although I assumed the leaf pattern was still immature since no bracts or rounded leaves were forming yet.

Then it bloomed. Red trumpets. No yellow starbursts and no rounded bracts.

This is not 'Kintzley's Ghost.' It is a trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens. The plant from High Country Gardens was mislabeled.

Trumpet honeysuckle is a nice enough climber but it is not what I anticipated, and not what I ordered or paid for. I don't like the tangerine red blooms next to the deep red foliage of a nearby Japanese maple. It will grow to 15 feet, rather than the 8 to 10 feet of Kintzley's Ghost, and this trellis won't support it.

High Country Gardens is gone now, and based on Heather's experience with a much more scrambled order from their successors, there is no way to fix this mix up.

I don't think I want to "live with it", although surprises in a garden can turn out to be happy developments. Sarah might be leaning toward living with her mislabled grasses as a better alternative than what she first wanted, perhaps.

But I'm not. I really wanted a Kintzley's Ghost honeysuckle on this trellis, and I think I will start looking for another source for one.

Sarah and Heather both made me laugh at their bewilderment over random wrong labels and wacky order shipments, so I am going to laugh this off too.

We are amused.

But we are most definitely not pleased.
 

37 comments:

  1. I don't order for plants often and have never had a mix-up like this. I have bought plants in a nursery that were mislabeled. That is infuriating enough. What a shock your plant must seem...rip it out.

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    1. Lisa, mislabeling is common since the little strips are just stuck into the pot and fall out easily. Infuriating is the word for it!

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  2. I can see why you were longing for the 'Kintzley's Ghost'--those silvery bracts are lovely. I've gotten mislabeled plants before, but usually not from mail order companies. Glad you are able to laugh about it, but I hope you find another more reliable source.

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    1. Rose, I am on the lookout for a source now. Kintzley's Ghost is not carried by any local nurseries.

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  3. Oh no! The evil label elfs got you too. Thanks so much for the nice mention, and what a bummer about your lonicera. That is an incredibly cool looking plant that you didn't get. I hope you can find another source for it.
    Thanks again, Laurrie.

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    1. Sarah, I just had to mention your experience, having just read it, just laughed over it and then I discovered my own mislabeled plant the same day!

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  4. Laurrie, you're right about sometimes accepting the mistake as a better choice, but when it's unacceptable it makes you want to see a plant in bloom before buying it – to make sure you get what you pay for.

    Alas, not possible when it's mail order.

    Then, as Lisa points out (above comment), you can get the wrong plant even when you buy local. To quote weaselly wrong-doers, mistakes are made. Sigh.

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    1. Lee, Mistakes are made and we are not pleased. . . grrr. I can understand how it happens, with plant sticks falling out so easily and dormant plants giving up nothing in the way of ID. But it is frustrating.

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  5. I read about Heather's problems with High Country too, and it made me hesitant to order from them. They are actually still in business selling mail order, so you might want to try and see if you can at least get a refund. I've seen photos of Kintzley's Ghost, and it looks like such a cool plant. I've never seen it for sale at any nurseries around here though.

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    1. Alison, Kintzley's Ghost is not commonly sold in retail nurseries anywhere except around Colorado (it was introduced by a nursery in Ft. Collins, CO). But I will find a source to replace the trumpet honeysuckle!

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  6. Oh, this is such a bummer! Of all the plants to slip the wrong tag into . . . Grrr, I'm sorry! I was so excited to see this in your garden too.

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    1. Heather, this rare honeysuckle was going to be my front garden specimen -- an unusual climber to stop traffic and stun visitors. I'll keep trying -- the trumpet honeysuckle is coming out!

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  7. Laurrie, the same passes here as well! I bought the rose what had to be white and now it blooms pink, beautiful, but another variety. Let laugh together!

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    1. Nadezda, it is so easy for plants to get marked incorrectly. It happens everywhere, in every country, I know. Such frustration.

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  8. I had a similar experience with peonies that I planted this spring... they were not the color they were supposed to be but I guess they'll do for awhile.


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    1. Stacy, It seems everyone who has a garden has a story of mismarked disappointments. It is inevitable, since it is so easy to lose the plant tags and so hard to tell what a plant really is until it leafs out or blooms.

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  9. Oy, that's lame! There are few things as annoying as getting excited about a new plant, only to have it bloom and be totally wrong HCG has been so spotty as of late, I'm very hesitant to order from them again :-(

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    1. Scott, High Country is such a disappointment --- the service, the closing of the store, the buy out and all the deterioration in what had been a great nursery. It's too bad.

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  10. Yeah, I agree that Lonicera sempervirens is not going to work in that space.

    I had a bad experience with my one High Country Gardens order too - tiny plants arrived in horrible condition. I emailed the company as instructed with photos (since they warranty that plants will arrive in good shape) but never heard back. Chalked it up as a learning experience. Not surprised they went out of business.

    The only place that I have had consistently good mail order experiences is a small nursery in NC called Gardens in the Wood of Grassy Creek. Not the biggest selection, but healthy plants at reasonable value http://www.gardensinthewood.com

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    1. Aaron, that's too bad to hear about your problems with High Country. Another in a long list of goof ups from them. Thanks for the link to the online nursery you like. I am always looking for good mail order sources.

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  11. Yep! That would put me off as well! It's not the end of the world but when you want to establish various areas of the garden and don't get what you thought you were getting it is a bit...well...annoying! For me it is the cost! Ha! I look at every little specimen at this point as a serious investment! I must add that your trellis is beautiful! I love the shape and finish...good luck getting it sorted out though the trumpet vine is healthy and pretty!

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    1. Nicole, the trumpet vine is healthy, and I really need to think of a place to move it to, rather than just rip it out. But it will get to 15 feet, and that requires some kind of large structure for it. Dilemma.

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  12. What a disappointment! I guess mislabeled plants happen to us all on occasion. This has happened to me, but usually from a big box type store and not a reputable nursery. A shame to see a good nursery go down.

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    1. Deb, I used to love HIgh Country Gardens, but boy they deteriorated, and I am not the only one to have had such a bad experience lately. It really is too bad.

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  13. I guess I am lucky because I have never had this happen to me. I am sure the more ordinary trumpet vine must be a disappointment. I love the silvery bracts on the vine you thought you planted and hope you are able to track one down.

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    1. Jennifer, I am on a quest to track one down, and start over. I will find one. The trumpet vine is nice, though, and I need to find it a home.

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  14. I've had this happen to me, too. It's pretty frustrating. What are you going to do with your red honeysuckle? Have you found a source for your Kintzley's Ghost? On the positive side, the hummingbirds probably love it. :o) I've always used HCG with great success but after the buy out, they're a mess. It's more business for my local nurseries and Lazy S for me.

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    1. Tammy, I am pondering where to put the trumpet honeysuckle. It's a nice plant, but at 15 feet, it needs some real structure to climb, and it twines, so it needs small rungs to wrap around. Hmm. Lazy S has been reliable and one of my favorite mail order sources.

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    2. You might like 'Harlequin' honeysuckle. It's small, very well behaved, has fragrant white flowers, and pretty variegation. I bought mine from Lazy S but have seen it locally, too.

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  15. I think you speak for a lot of us with this post :) If I had to count how many times I've planted the "wrong" plant thanks to mislabelled nursery pots - yeesh!

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    1. Rosemary, it happens! But boy is it frustrating -- a whole season is lost while the plant grows before you realize it isn't what was labeled.

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  16. I really like trumpet honeysuckle, but I wouldn't be pleased either if I didn't get a plant that I had paid for. Mostly I have had very good experiences with online plant orders. In fact, most of the mistakes have been in my favor, as when I received a flat of butterflyweed and coreopsis from one nursery that I hadn't ordered. When I called them they said I may as well keep them.

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    1. Jason, I have had good luck too with online orders, except for one rogue bottlebrush buckeye cultivar that was mixed in with several others that were straight species, but they all looked alike as baby plants. I like your experience -- freebies!

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  17. I love my trumpet honeysuckle and it draws in hummers in droves...I hope you can find another good spot for it as it is a gorgeous plant once it grows in and it does that quickly...oh and it is a great native plant at least here...I hope you find the one you want for that trellis.

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    1. Donna, I do like the trumpet honeysuckle, but can't get over the idea that it is not what I planned for that spot! I will try to find a good spot to move it to.

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  18. well, just make the most out of the mistake! perhaps transfer some plants near it that would accentuate its colors! :) GL on looking for that Trellis though

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    1. Hannah, I think I have a better spot for a red flowering plant now. So I will move it after all ... and to a place where I can watch hummers who may come to visit it!

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