10 Favorite Mail-Order Nurseries

February is a terrific time to choose new plants for the garden. Here are some of my favorite mail-order nurseries for perennials, trees and shrubs. Do you have other favorites? Please share them with others in the comments section!

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Bluestone Perennials

Bluestone Perennials was one of the first mail-order nurseries that I purchased perennials from when I began gardening. Most of those perennials -geraniums 'Wargrave Pink' and 'Johnson's Blue', lobelias and astilbes, to name a few, are still growing in my garden 20 years later. Bluestone carries a huge selection of perennials, as well as bulbs and shrubs, from reliable standbys to exciting new hybrids. If you need help with plant combinations, you can order pre-planned theme gardens, such as a Butterfly Garden, Cutting Garden or Lamp Post Garden. Robust plants are shipped in 3-1/2" x 4" plantable pots. The nursery has been family-owned and operated since 1972, and provides excellent customer service. Catalog available. bluestoneperennials.com

Brushwood Nursery

If you are looking for clematis or other climbers, Brushwood Nursery is an excellent source. Brushwood offers hundreds of clematis varieties as well as honeysuckles, trumpet vines, passion flowers, wisteria and jasmines. The informative website is a virtual encyclopedia of clematis - you will have a hard time narrowing down your choices! I was inspired to try clematis after hearing Cheryl Monroe's lecture, and she recommended Brushwood. Since then, I have ordered plants for myself and as gifts for friends, and they have all done beautifully. Owner Dan Long takes great care in selecting, growing and shipping healthy, vigorous plants. They now sell all the vines in one-gallon pots with free shipping. brushwoodnursery.com

Flowers by the Sea

I love the spiky form and delicate flowers of salvias, but you rarely find any varieties other than 'Caradonna' and 'May Knight' at local nurseries. Luckily, there is a California nursery called Flowers by the Sea, which specializes in beautiful salvias and has 52 varieties that are hardy to Zone 6. Last year I added salvias in periwinkle blue, soft pink, magenta and white to my perennial border and they bloomed until November! Plants are large and healthy and the website offers a wealth of information about growing salvias. If you sign up for their newsletter, you receive weekly Salvia deals. fbts.com

Santa Rosa Gardens

Santa Rosa Gardens offers an extensive selection of perennials with an emphasis on ornamental grasses - there are 182 varieties of grasses on offer! Most of the plants are sun lovers, and you will be pleased with the number of varieties to choose from - 13 types of agastache, 32 varieties of coreopsis, 14 Gaillardias, 44 Sedums, and more. In addition to standard 3-1/2" pots, you can also order perennials in flats of 72 if you are doing a mass planting. Santa Rosa Gardens is family-owned grower that has been in the horticulture business for four generations and offers excellent customer service.

Santa Rosa Gardens has also started a new subscription service called My Garden Box. The nursery assembles a custom crafted collection of plants and gardens goods that you can receive on a monthly basis or send as a gift. The plants are beautifully packaged and arrive as a lovely surprise.  santarosagardens.com

Pine Knot Farms

Hellebores have a special place in my heart, and there is no better place to look for new varieties than Pine Knot Farms. Judith and Dick Tyler have been breeding hellebores for more than 25 years, with stock plants from the UK, the Balkans, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The couple authored a comprehensive book on Hellebores in 2006. I hope to visit their North Carolina nursery someday, but in the meantime, I try some of their new offerings every year. pineknotfarms.com

Palatine Roses

When I replanted my rose bed last year, I was determined to use hardy, disease-free roses. I ordered bare root rose bushes from several sources, and the best plants came from Palatine Roses in Ontario. The roses had well-developed root systems and strong canes, and flourished during the entire season with no signs of black spot or other diseases. I had blooms through November. Palatine has a minimum order of 3 roses, and the mail order deadline is March 15 for spring shipping. palatineroses.com

High Country Gardens

If you are looking to develop a drought-tolerant perennial garden, look for plants at Santa Fe's High Country Gardens. The nursery has been dedicated to improving the environment "one garden at a time", and has been a pioneer in the concept of xeriscaping - gardening with plants that need minimal water once established. Founder David Salman has introduced unique hybrids for water-wise gardens, and all plants are grown neonicotinoid-free. This nursery is a great source of sun lovers such as liatris, agastache, lavender, coreopsis, monarda and more! The site is also rich with plant description and gardening advice. highcountrygardens.com

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Geraniaceae Nursery

One of my earliest "favorite plants" were the hardy cranesbill geraniums for their long-lasting dainty blooms and ease of care. I recently discovered a book devoted to this family of plants written by Robin Parer which led me to her specialty nursery in Marin County, Cal. While local nurseries sell less then 5 varieties, Geraniaceae offers close to 170 hardy geraniums hybrids, as well as erodiums and pelargoniums. If you love this family of plants, there is no better source! geraniaceae.com

Mason Hollow Nursery

If you have a shady garden or just love to collect hostas, you will enjoy ordering from Mason Hollow Nursery in Mason, New Hampshire. Owners Sue and Chuck Anderson opened the nursery in 2001, and offer an impressive array of more than 800 hosta varieties, as well as ferns, epimediums and other perennials. Plants arrive with good sized root systems and are ready to be planted in the garden. You can also visit Mason Hollow and see their lovely display gardens. masonhollow.com

Lazy S's Farm Nursery

A family-owned nursery in Virginia, Lazy S's Farm offers a huge range of perennials as well as many hard-to-find hybrids of shrubs. Do you like callicarpa? You can find 13 varieties at Lazy S. All plants come in quart pots, so it is an inexpensive way to purchase an unusual shrub if you have the patience to grow it on for a few years before it makes a significant presence in the garden. When delivered, plants are healthy and vigorous and ready to take their place in the garden. lazyssfarm.com

 

Favorite Nurseries in New England

Joan and I love to lecture about gardening and are often asked about where we obtain our plants. The short answer is “everywhere” – from specialty nurseries, local nurseries, plant swaps, big box stores, friends, mail order sources, plant societies and special plant sales. We both seek out nurseries when we travel, and almost always come home with souvenir plants. Some of my plants journeyed home with me from Cape Cod, Philadelphia, New York, New Mexico and Seattle. Some of the best nurseries in New England are destination nurseries with beautiful display gardens. Others are small home nurseries that grew out of a passion for a certain plant.

Here is a list of some of our favorite sources for plants in New England. 

Cochato Nursery

Cochato Nursery

Cochato Nursery

Specialty nursery featuring unique plants and incredible display gardens. Great selection of unusual perennial shade plants (including hundreds of hostas), plus a variety of unusual trees and shrubs for all gardens. Owners Chuck Doughty and Sue DuBrava are welcoming and knowledgeable about all aspects of the plant world. Open May 2, 2015 to Labor Day, Thursday-Sunday. 373 North Franklin St, Holbrook, MA.  www.cochatonursery.com

New England Wildflower society

New England Wildflower society

New England Wildflower Society

NEWS offers a wonderful range of native plants--with the genetic traits that make them hardy in the region and perfect for native wildlife--for home gardeners. Plants are available for sale at Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Rd., Framingham, MA and Nasami Farm Nursery, 128 North Street, Whately, MA www.newfs.org

katsura gardens

katsura gardens

 Katsura Gardens

Specialty nursery featuring rare trees, unusual conifers and specialty plants. Katsura Gardens is especially known for its large collection of Japanese Maples. 112 Carver Road, Plymouth, MA.  www.katsuragardens.com 

Weston Nurseries

Weston Nurseries

Weston Nurseries

With a history of rhododendron hybridizing, including the ubiquitous PJM rhodie, Weston Nurseries is a favorite for its extensive selection of rhododendrons, shrubs and trees. Weston has always been an excellent resource for horticultural information – from the knowledgeable staff, to their catalogs and online plant library. 93 Main St. (Rte 135), Hopkinton, MA. 508-435-3414; 160 Pine Hill RoadChelmsford, MA. 978-349-0055 www.westonnurseries.com

Russell's Garden Center

Russell's Garden Center

Russell’s Garden Center

With an extensive gift and garden accessory shop, Russell’s is a fun destination year-round. I especially like their selection of perennials and roses, as well as water plants and pond supplies. 397 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA. 508-358-2283  www.russellsgardencenter.com

Bigelow Nurseries

Bigelow Nurseries

Bigelow Nurseries

Celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year, Bigelow Nurseries has a good selection of trees, shrubs and perennials at prices that tend to better than at other large local nurseries. 455 W. Main St., Northboro, MA. 508-845-2143 www.bigelownurseries.com 

Tranquil Lake Nursery

Tranquil Lake Nursery

Tranquil Lake Nursery

Warren Leach’s Tranquil Lake Nursery is the largest grower is daylilies and Siberian and Japanese Iris in the northeastern U.S. Visitors are always welcome to stroll through the display gardens and more than 10 acres of growing fields and to choose from more than 2,500 cultivars of daylilies and 200 cultivars of iris.  45 River St., Rehoboth, MA. 508-252-4000 www.tranquil-lake.com

Briggs Garden & Home

Briggs offers a beautiful selection of annuals and perennials in addition to shrubs and trees. The nursery has expanded to include garden accents and home décor, and there is a café on the premises. 295 Kelley Blvd., North Attleboro, MA. 508-699-7421 www.briggsgarden.com

o'Brien Nurserymen

o'Brien Nurserymen

O'Brien Nurserymen

Specialty nursery. Incredible selection and quality: hundreds of hostas, plus conifers, Japanese maples, shade perennials. Beautiful display gardens. Definitely worth the trip! Owner John O'Brien is friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about plants! Mail order for hosta plants only. 40 Wells Road, Granby, CT.  www.obrienhosta.com

 Mason Hollow Nursery

Mail order and specialty nursery. Top quality plants for everyone from the novice gardener to the collector. Huge selection of Heuchera, hundreds of hostas, unusual shade perennials, conifers and small trees. Owners Sue and Chuck Anderson are a delight - and so helpful! Beautiful display gardens. Opens for the season May 9, 2015. 47 Scripps Lane, Mason NH.  www.masonhollow.com

Broken Arrow Nursery

Broken Arrow Nursery

Broken Arrow Nursery

Broken Arrow is best known for its mountain laurel collection, and has been featured in several gardening magazines. It features an unparalleled inventory of off-the-beaten-track and brand-new varieties of woody plants. Open April to October 31.13 Broken Arrow Road, Hamden, CT; brokenarrownursery.com

Snug Harbor Farm

Snug Harbor Farm

Snug Harbor Farm

Lauded by Yankee Magazine as one of the top five nurseries in New England. Fantastic containers and topiaries created from uncommon botanicals elevate gardening to the level of fine art. Open year-round.87 Western Ave., Kennebunk, ME. 207-967-2414; snugharborfarm.com

Garden Sales

Conveniently located off of I-84 in Manchester, Conn., Garden Sales is a family owned nursery owned by the Turull family. Garden Sales has an excellent selection of hostas, as well as hard to find perennials, daylilies, roses, peonies, ornamental grasses, dwarf conifers and ornamental trees. 308 Oakland St., Manchester, CT  860-649-9406 www.gardensalesllc.com

Off the Beaten Path

Completely Clematis Nursery

As the name says, a small nursery specializing in all types of clematis, both retail and mail order. Completely Clematis focuses on small-flowered species and hybrids that are easy and rewarding to grow. 217 Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA. (978) 356-3197  www.clematisnursery.com

Boulderwoods Nursery

Boulderwoods Nursery

Boulderwoods Nursery

Boulderwoods is the home nursery of Joe Bruso, an active member of the Rhododendron Society and rhododendron hybridizer. His nursery is a wonderful place to visit in May, when hundreds of rhododendrons throughout his property are in bloom. Joe also propagates other woody shrubs and trees, including the native big-leaf magnolias. Available by appointment. 61 S. Mill St., Hopkinton, MA. 508-435-8217

Garden Vision Epimediums

Garden Vision Epimediums

Garden Vision Epimediums

Garden Vision Epimediums, also known as the “Epi-center of the Universe”,  is a small, retail mail-order nursery located in rural central Massachusetts. The plants offered represent the work of Epimedium expert Darrell Probst, who has discovered many of these plants through numerous collecting expeditions to China, Japan and Korea. The nursery is primarily mail order, but open to the public for only a select few weekends in May, during bloom season. 10 Templeton Rd., Phillipston, MA. 978-249-3863  www.epimediums.com

Do you have a favorite nursery? Add it in the Comments section!