Why I never buy online

I never buy plants online and rarely mail order. These are the 10 reasons why:-

i. I like to have a day out every now and again.

2. I like to see the actual plant i am buying. i get to chose the best.

3. i can see the actual colour of the flowers/leaves.

4. i get to make friends.

5. I get expert advice from people I trust.

6. I find bargains.

7. Sometimes I treat myself to a very nice lunch or a cream tea.

8. I don't have to pay postage and packing for heavy items.

9. I have been badly let down by mail order.

10. I am an old fashioned so and so who wants to retain the old ways as long as possible. What will you do if the internet closes down all the Nurseries/garden centres?

Do you agree and how many other reasons can you contribute?



  • Agree agree agree. I'm 31 and only been gardening my own garden for a year. I'm addicted to garden centres , and the cafe's image. Had a week

    Off work and been to a garden centre nearly everyday.

    I look in my garden and think... That's from there, that was a bargain from there and that was bought on a ruddy rainy day from there. I research on the net but always worry that I'm not getting what I'm seeing!!

    I do order seeds in the Internet (mainly ebay) I have saved 2/3 of the cost for my dad by ordering from the Internet. I hope that doesn't make me a hipacrit but sorry purse winds on seeds and plants quality from garden centres!
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,050

    Seeds on line, Chiltern, Plant world and specialists like Touchwood for the aquilegias. Not enough choice from GC seeds

    Plants from nurseries and plant fairs. Not GCs very often as they all have the same, (whatever's in this year), I like to look a bit further.


  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    I got my Sisyrinchium from ebay last year, eight actual plants when only five had been promised.

    Not only were they lovingly wrapped and posted, but grew into a sizable clump waiting for division just one year later.

    I was thrilled with this experience, BUT, on the whole, I don't use the Internet for plants for all the reasons above. I like to see it with my own eyes, smell it, touch it, judge its form and habit, note the exact -exact- shade of flower and foliage, none of which can be done to my standards in the virtual world.

    The internet has its uses but I will always prefer the hands on shopping experience image

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    I agree with many of the points, but also with Verdun regarding choice - the average GC cannot hope to match the multitude of varieties available online from specialist nurseries.  For bedding plants and gardening sundries etc (many of which are available much cheaper online), I always go to the local GC to try and help them stay in business.

    I've found the condition and packaging of plants sent by post to be very good on the whole and on the rare occasion when there has been a problem it has always been quickly put right usually with profuse apologies (and often freebie/voucher etc) from the supplier.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489
    The majority of garden centres around where I live are owned by major chains, Dobbies, Wyvale and Notcutts, then there's also B&Q, Homebase and a whole load of supermarket and cut price stores. I know of one independent nursery within about a 30 minute drive (which I regularly visit).

    The 'support your local GC' line doesn't really work when it turns out that, in the case of Dobbies, it's owned by Tesco.
  • blackestblackest Posts: 623

    It's the independent Garden Centres, which are worth while supporting as they are more prepared to order in more unusual plants, there is a pretty good chance that the man or woman you are talking to will be putting in the orders with the nurserys or will be talking directly with the one who does. 

    mostly orders go in at the beginning of the week for delivery thursday or friday.  

    Seed ranges are standardised a company like suttons will send a range of around a 100 or 200 seeds depending on the footage to a GC once or maybe twice a year. (unsold go back for credit). If you want anything outside of these ranges online is the way to go. Garden furniture tends to be sourced from china either direct by chains like b&q  or via wholesalers who pretty much charge the GC at around the price a chain sells at retail.

    Things like sheds, fencing, dog boxes and unusual handcrafted items can be locally produced and custom made which supports the local economy. Most independent gardencentres will produce individual planters and hanging baskets to order, you can often get last years refilled. Of course if you are a regular customer at an independent you are more likely to be able to get things sourced for you,(if it is the right time of year). 

    Last year in my area at least 4 independents went bust. It's pretty tight for the rest of them too. Have a day out , enjoy a cream tea, find plants you like and if you don't see what you are looking for ask.

    You might find your local independent  agreeable to a little bit of haggling on the price of plants. This is where it helps to be a regular customer but please don't do this when you just want a couple of bedding plants, if your spending cash (not cards as visa are already taking a chunk out of the profit margin) and buying a good number of plants thats when your more likely to get a deal particularly on the quieter wetter colder days.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,808

    And with small independent nurseries, online is the only way they can compete with the huge chains of Garden Centres.  

    It does seem that in many fields of business, online sales are the saviour of the small independent retailers.

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • sterelitzasterelitza Posts: 110

    Verdun, I agree that Woodgreen wonderboy has started an interesting thread here.  There are so many reasons why people use all these methods of purchasing their plants, seeds etc.  Personally I use the lot!  Main reason is that I like to research and hopefully purchase the best for my garden at the best price, unfortunately this does not always work.  I have used my local independent nursery for larger plants and shrubs as they have probably been growing outside for sometime and will have endured a few seasons and will survive in my garden... this is opposed to buying from other sources where they may have been grown under perfect conditions to ensure success.  It is down to trust and confidence and... not wasting money.  I really look forward to reading more on this subject so keep them coming.

  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    I agree with several of the comments made above. I am all for supporting the smaller business & there is a certain thrill in going to a garden centre or nursery, there is a buzz and an atmosphere that you don't get online. It can also be slightly lethal for the wallet.

    But Brumball has hit the nail on the head, I struggle to get to a garden centre, my nearest is a 45min walk away (I don't have a car) and busses would be an impossible journey, I think its 4 connecting busses each way. If I get to go to one of them its usually in a friends car but thats rare (2-3 times a year). I also have severe joint pains & illness meaning that some days I sleep for upto 15 even 20 hours, my ankles and knees give out or sieze up & I have broken several bones with no explination. If it wasnt for buying some items on the internet I wouldnt have a garden. 

  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    SORRY....image Brumbull, I spelt your username wrong... 

  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510
    Brumbull wrote (see)

    Yes there was a troll who had the name Brumball but i'am Brumbull image thanks

    I know, thats why I appologised for it.image

  • DD, I commend your courage in continuiing to garden. image  It seems a bit short-sighted to criticise buying plants online when we are all socialising and learning online, and this, too, is a boon for older and less fit gardeners.

    Our local GC was taken over from a chain by a private owner, recently. It has improved vastly and I love it and visit it monthly, at least, for all the reasons mentioned above. I have noticed that it has less stock this year than last, though, and really hope it continues to do well. It is fairly cheap for plants and I do buy there. Nutcutlet mentioned Touchwood for aquilegias and since this is local for me, I visited there and bought seeds and other plants, which were dug up before my eyes. That lady gardens in a tiny area and I imagine that online sales provide her main business income.

    Wherever you buy plants, online or locally, the growers are local to someone! They are merely expanding their business online and by catalogue in order to survive. We all know that there are issues of price and some are cheaper and of poorer quality than others, but it is horses for courses. I've been to Hayloft plant centre and it is a charming small garden centre. I spent too much but loved it.

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,109

    I use both, and think this gives the best of both worlds - loads of choice online (and most online nurseries I use are very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful - if they are not, they do not get repeat orders!), and the chance to see things (and be tempted) in a GC.  Long may both continue.

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    Thanks GG & Brumbull, I do have to be carefull, I do tend to break easily and have alot of pain & gardening is my only real pleasure since I can barely tollerate alcohol anymore image.. 

    This site has been my winter saviour and has been lovely to chat along with regular posters. I do get told off by my mothering next door neighbour (lol, she's only in her late 40's). But like I say, I do what I can & I stop when I have to. If I don't do it its not going to get done and since I am the one sitting out there in the nice weather (if it ever comes back), I just don't want to be looking at a pile of weeds. 

  • It is such a purposeful activity, too, isn't it? A way of creating and enjoying beauty and the natural forces of the earth recreating itelf. Crumbs, I'd better go and calm down!

  • Like others on here I don't really have a choice. I do not drive. We have a family car but my OH loathes GCs (well shopping at all really....supermarket shopping is about his limit tbh) and will chose routes that avoid GCs...sounds worse than he is achully he's generally a sweetie and has done a lot of structural work for me in the garden. He's taken me before but he's so impatient it's not worth it...

    I go to GCs with family members sometimes, but obviously as I'm being taken I am not at liberty to request particular nurseries...my sisters in particular choose GCs on the basis of the standard of their restaurants. Most of these tend to be humungous 'lifestyle centres' where plants and gardening products form a tiny percentage of the merchandise. I know that these places have to attract as many people as possible to compete in the marketplace, but that is scant comfort when one is looking for a particular plant.

    These huge GCs seem to offer a pretty limited number of (often poorly cared for) plants. Occasionally I will purchase something that I know that I can't grow from seed, but on the whole I prefer to wait until I can get along to garden shows in the spring and summer. A local company puts on a coach and it means that I have access to many specialist nurseries in one place, I can usually see what the plants are going to look like (in theory) often the growers are around to chat to and generally the prices are not bad.

    Seeds I do buy online, and I have had excellent service from companies like Nicky's Nurseries, Chiltern Seeds, D T Browns and Nuts n'Cones amongst others. Quality Control has been excellent and on the rare occasion that I've encountered problems the customer service has been prompt and effective.


  • I hesitate to comment on behalf of the disabled or those older members of society who find it hard to get about but some of the larger GCs seem to be rocking with their presence. Clearly they are doing more than just gardening...but find them great places to eat (often several times a week), meet friends and have social contacts, be taken by their many carers for a day out, keep warm in cold weather' window shop in comfort and under cover, and not least enjoy the myriad of flowers and plants and perhaps live again their gardening memories, successes and failures. So it's all a bit more complex than praising the internet for this group, and believing that GCs are for the able bodied. It's actually the reverse...online is for fit busy people, and GCs are a boon to the less mobile.


  • Good point, WW. But it isn't even as simple as that. For those who can get to GCs, they are a great meeting place - for the senior citizen, for the ladies who lunch, for couples to get a quiet coffee together. They are also a place to get among  living things, to see beautiful plants, to learn, to spend money. Great! There are people who can't get to them and there are people who haven't time to go. There are knowledgeable gardeners who want rarer plants and busy gardeners who want to choose and order their plants during odd corners of the day. There are lovely private garden centres and plant breeders who could not survive without the internet.

    So what does all this prove? We need and are entitled to enjoy BOTH.

  • I do so agree GG...I hope that we will keep and enjoy the best of both worlds.

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