Burgess seeds, shrubs, and trees online. Scam? Seems to be.
May 8, 2003 (Updated May 9, 2003)
Burgess is an odd online company. You need to have the order catalog in front of you and place the order by the numbers in the current catalog. The site is the quick order form, so I suppose it is for people who dont like to fill in order forms and mail them in. You can stop by the web site and request a catalog if you dont have one. Then you order online or just by mail if you prefer.
If youre not familiar with Burgess, then its a seed and plant company with flowers, trees, and vegetables. Its very similar to Burpee where Ive been buying seeds and such for several years. Apparently, Burgess is more popular in the Midwest, because my separated mother-in-law said that she knew about the company and had ordered and been pleased. I decided to try them this year, since the prices are good and the selection includes more unusual items like blue potatoes, red snowball flower bush and blue roses.
After the order, I did get an email with a confirmation and the list of items purchased plus some free gifts like huckleberry seeds. I began looking for the shipment, which was scheduled to come at the right time to plant in my zone area. It took a few weeks and, of course, came on a Tuesday when I would be working my job rather than gardening usually and also in the middle of flood conditions in North Carolina. It would be nice to get an email saying these seeds and plants are on the way, but they come as a total surprise.
Only part of the order came in the first shipment. I couldnt tell if that was due to planting times or if they had run out of kiwi and a couple of other items that came later. Everything was in a good-sized box including seed packets, bulbs, and trees. Seeds come in generic type paper packets, which include very basic planting instructions but no pictures of the included seeds as plants. Bulbs come in plastic baggies with the name of the flowers stamped on the outside and again no photos and no instructions except for the shallots, which had a little paper slip. The trees . . . oh goodness . . . these are bare root sprigs. The weeping cherry trees were about 3 inches tall with some roots hanging down and maples were around 8 inches with no side branches again with bare roots. These look more like kindling for the fire, but the paper said that they were just dormant and would grow when I stuck them in the ground with some other dirt and mulch stuff.
Since peas and lettuce grow in colder weather, I got those in the garden first thing. This is over a month later, and I have about 6 leaves of lettuce up and no peas at all. The beans and corn went in shortly after with 4 corn stalks up now and 6 bean plants. My father planted some of the same things, and he has lots of plants up and growing while I mostly have a muddy weed patch at the moment.
As far as the trees, the two weeping cherry are dead, the dwarf cherry for pies is dead, and 2 of the 5 maples are dead (and the other two dont look that great either). The red snowball bush shrub is dead and the blue rose is dead also though the clematis seems to be thriving and has grown from about 1 inch when it came to 8 or 9 inches now.
The only plants that have done really well are the giant strawberries. They have some flowers on them. I dont think the make strawberries or many the first year, so Ill have to transplant them for next year.
A couple of the packets are still sitting on the cabinet. They say to plant inside 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost, so they came to late to start and also were surprising since I didnt think I ordered anything that needed to be babies ahead in the house. The sale book and the site dont really give details like that which would be good to know ahead of time.
I spent over $100 at Burgess and have some strawberry plants, gladiolas, a couple of maple sticks, and a few garden plants and wild flowers. They do have a guarantee, so Im sending a letter and the packets back this week. Im not getting my hopes up though, since the whole thing has been pretty frustrating.
Next time I will order from Burpee online where Ive had much better luck and service or going to town especially for trees and bushes. If you want to order online, then see my Burpee review: http://www.epinions.com/content_98706886276 I feel comfortable sending you to buy from Burpee.
This information in comments from my friend Ada is excellent:
Burgess is part of a company called Plantron, Inc.. You can read a watchdog report on the company at: http://gardenwatchdog.com/c/229/
Bottom line: avoid all of the Plantron "offshoots" like the plague (or plant virus) itself. If you order from one division, you will likely get catalogs from all of them.
Best place for plants and seeds: Parks, Wayside Gardens, Territorial Seed Company, Stark Brothers, Mellinger's, Burpee. More expensive, but the plants arrive in good shape and grow.
Of course, they will still:
1. all show up on the same day,
2. when the ground is too soggy to plant, and
3. you are terribly busy with other things.
I wish I'd known this before I purchased from Burgess. I'd encourage anyone considering an order to read the reviews on the link provided here by Ada. YIKES!
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