The How to Grow It Project

Special Native Gardens Warning

I was looking for seeds for a native wildflower called Blue-Eyed Mary. In 2001 an online friend found them offered at Native Gardens - nursery propagated native plants & seeds, 5737 Fisher Lane, Greenback, TN 37742. It was $2 for a packet of seeds, $6 for shipping and handling. I sent them an email asking how many seeds were in a packet. After a week they did not answer. I printed out an order form of theirs and wrote a check for $8. Then I got an email saying they were out of the seeds and did I want to have my check returned or should they keep it? I said send it back while I search for another source. They did send it back.

I never found another source so in late January I sent them the check all over again. It was cashed February 11. Now these plants bloom around April or May, the seeds would probably be ripe in June and I would get them in July. By August they had not showed up so I emailed them twice. No answer. I sent a US mail letter around August 20 and never got an answer. I checked the old email of theirs and they said the seeds go out in June. Now, as of October 8, 2002 there is still no response.

Next I made up this web page and sent them a copy by certified mail (cost: $4.42), Meredith Bradford Clebsch signed for it on October 15, 2002. I waited a month and got no response of any kind. I posted a note in rec.gardens with the subject: "Native Gardens: they're thieves". One fellow pointed me to Garden Watch Dog where I found another guy who has the same problem with them. Another person just wrote me (Dec. 3, 2002) with the same problem. This person pointed me to the State of Tennessee Consumer Complaint Program where I filled out their online form on January 6, 2003. We'll see what happens.

The Tennessee Consumer Complaint Program got the attention of Meredith Bradford Clebsch after a while. A representative from the complaint program wrote me a letter on February 13, a letter that arrived here on February 15. It included a letter from Ms. Clebsch to the program representative dated February 11 saying that the problems at Native Gardens were due to "an employee who is no longer with us" and saying "I have forwarded a full refund to Mr. Tveter today including a credit to cover the product he ordered". Alas, after mail delivery on February 19, the "full refund" that was allegedly sent on the 11th has not showed up yet. Also on the 19th I wrote a snail-mail back to the Tennessee consumer complaint program representative saying it isn't over yet.

February 21: The refund check arrives, plus a letter of apology, plus a $20 gift certificate. Ah, but will the check be good? I don't think I'm going to get to the bank for about a week. The check was dated the 13th, the letter was dated the 14th, postmarked on the 19th and arrived on the 21st. So it wasn't sent on the 11th. The signatures on the letter and the check look the same as the one on the Oct. 15 acknowledgment from the certified mail. I wonder, how often do you sign for a piece of certified mail and then not open it right away?

Well, the check cleared. I emailed Ms. Clebsch to see if I could use my $20 gift certificate to get Blue-Eyed Mary seeds. She said yes, when the new batch came in around the end of May or early June.

July 14: 12 packets of seeds showed up! (A bit more than I expected :-))

It seems you can't trust anyone so before you order anything try to check them out online. Another place to check on the reliability of mail order nurseries is The Plants by Mail FAQ.

If you have any questions or comments, write me.

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