List of seed and bulb vendors

Greg Ruckert
Thu, 26 Aug 2010 22:50:05 PDT
Hi Robin,

> "I guess we could add a note to the list saying something like "look for
> these vendors on eBay," but that feels very untidy.  On the other hand, I
> feel like we shouldn't ignore it if it's becoming a major source for 
> bulbs."
> Interesting comments about ebay...  As a nurseryman, it's not a very good 
> way to build a customer following or to make special bulbs available on a 
> relatively routine basis.  Plus, it would seem to me (perhaps I'm wrong) 
> that the time involved could be more productively spent, at least from a 
> professional point of view.  It doesn't seem to be a reliable source???
> Robin Hansen
> Cyclamen specialist

Here in Australia most of our "Specialist Nurseries" have disappeared.  We 
have three tiers of operator here.  We have the large wholesale operations 
which produce a massive number of a limited range for distribution to the 
second tier - the Garden Centre.  These Garden Centres basically all carry 
the same stuff - largely as promoted on the mindless garden/makeover shows 
on television.  Then, Robin, we have the wonderful third tier made up of 
people like yourself who are dedicated, passionate, knowledgable people who 
specialise in hard to get plants.  They are a disappearing race because of 
the market share created by the big centres and the tv shows.  This is also 
driven by the ridiculous drive for greater population and smaller places for 
people to live.  40 years ago the specialists were everywhere.  Now, with 
triple the population, they are effectively gone.

When I was young my brother and I were offered the opportunity/funding to 
establish our own nursery.  My brother said no, which did upset me at the 
time, but in retrospect it was the right decision.

I had the priviledge of doing a couple of botanical expeditions to outback 
China over a decade ago but it is only in the last two years that I have 
been able to rekindle my plant passions.
Imagine my disappointment when I found it impossible to track down the sorts 
of plants I grew forty or even ten years ago.

I found a couple of wonderful people who offer plants by mail order but I 
devoured them quickly.  Where to next?

Just out of curiosity I had a look on Ebay.  Wow!!  Here I found specialists 
offering seed, not only here but overseas.  We can bring seed into Australia 
fairly easily if you know what you are doing.
Then to plants and one of the first people I found use to have a specialist 
nursery reasonably nearby.  I had a talk to her and this is why she had made 
the change.  She doesn't have to be open seven, five, three or even one day 
per week.  She doesn't have to advertise. She doesn't have to supply pots or 
potting mix.  She always gets a price that makes her happy and, sometimes, 
the price makes her ecstatic!
I have seen plants listed at $50 ending up going for $180!

These reasons made sense to me, from the seller's perspective.

But what about from the buyer's perspective?  I have made multiple purchases 
from every supplier that I have used.  I always check out people I am going 
to buy from thoroughly and it is clear that they have many regular 
customers.  I don't believe I have made a purchase that I have not been 
happy with.  And, my goodness, I have bought many very rare plants.  Sadly I 
can't bring plants into the country!  The other advantage is that I don't 
have to go near those hopeless garden centres which are staffed by sales 
people who have no knowledge of the plants they sell.  I have become good 
friends with probably a dozen Ebay sellers and regularly communicate with 
them - but I am still happy to buy from them on Ebay.  The real bonus is 
that I automatically receive notification when anything I am intrested in 
comes available.

Ebay provides a whole new market for specialist growers.  It doesn't mean 
that they have to stop selling directly (unless they want to) but it enables 
them to reach a whole new market.

Greg Ruckert
South Australia
Zone 10a 

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