After years of purchasing plants from nurseries and garden centres around the UK I am moved to ask the question ‘Are all nurserymen colour blind?’
To many of you this may seem like an odd question and to some of you just the ranting of a paranoid conspiracy theorist! However, over the years I must have bought dozens of plants that are wrongly labelled and when they burst into flower give me a surprise. My favourite example is the pink Hagley Hybrid Clematis that turned out to be a pale blue double flowered Clematis (as yet unidentified) or there is the James Galway Rose that turned out to be a Geoff Hamilton (there must be a joke in there somewhere!).
Many nurseries and garden centres offer money-back guarantees, but will only pay up or produce a replacement plant if you dig up and produce the plant that has been wrongly labelled. This goes against almost everything I want to do as a gardener and I am simply not prepared to dig up perfectly healthy plants just to prove to the garden centre that they were wrong. Surely we live in an age where plant nurseries can produce ‘true’ plant stocks when they seem to bring new creations to market with increasing regularity.
My local nursery blames customers who they say take labels out of one pot and then push them back into another – although this may occasionally happen I cannot see it leading to the amount of problems I hear about from friends and colleagues. I now find myself waiting and buying plants when in flower, this is not ideal and I have often noticed that plants planted when in flower take longer to put on root growth and therefore take longer to become established.
Many other businesses could not afford to let such poor quality control blight their companies. It would be very strange if Quality Garden Tools supplied a four pronged fork that when delivered was found to have only two prongs! Or maybe a rake with a 48" handle which when it arrived at its destination was only 24" long! So, even if you don’t want to dig up your wrongly labelled plants, please make sure you complain to whoever sold them to you.
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