First Timber Press, now Heronswood Nursery

Jane McGary
Thu, 08 Jun 2006 14:13:12 PDT
I don't think the Burpees/Heronswood situation is as much an occasion for 
mourning as some others appear to feel it is. (When the initial sale was 
made, incidentally, the joke going around was that after the merger, the 
new entity would be called Herpees Nursery.) It is true that Heronswood's 
display garden and upscale location made it a popular destination for 
plant-lovers, especially those with big budgets. However, the mail-order 
plants were not always sent in satisfactory condition, and some of them had 
devilish weeds included (thanks for the spurge). Moreover, the catalogs 
featured, in cringe-inducing prose, some excessive praise of mediocre 
garden subjects (no thanks for the Heptacodium) and seriously exaggerated 
hardiness ratings.

By this time the more garden-worthy introductions from Heronswood have made 
it into other nurseries, where they can still be bought no matter whether 
Burpees kills them off. Just in my local area there are many such growers 
-- though admittedly, "just in my local area" happens to be the county with 
the most ornamental plant nurseries in the United States. I was just at 
Collectors Nursery, for instance, and was quite impressed not only by what 
was for sale but also by the many interesting plants in development, such 
as some remarkable Roscoea species and hybrids. Another remarkable list, 
with new introductions from Europe, is offered by Edelweiss Perennials of 
Canby, Oregon. Both these growers have websites and mail order. (Be sure 
you Google Edelweiss PERENNIALS, not Edelweiss Nursery, which is a bedding 
plant outfit in Minnesota, I think.) Even with Heronswood closed, it's 
still possible to make a productive plant pilgrimage through the Pacific 
Northwest, north to south, ending up at the California border with a pickup 
truck load of plants new to you.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

08:58 AM 6/8/2006 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 6/7/2006 7:08:17 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
> writes:
>--this  is the same promise we were made about
>Heronswood Nursery 6 years ago),  and now this, I don't much like what
>it sometimes does to things that were  functioning perfectly well as
>they were. In fact, it irks me a  lot.
>Today's column by Anne Raver in the NY TImes sheds a bit more light  on the
>Heronswood saga.  Among the quotes cited in the column:
>Dan Hinkley said: he and Mr Jones spent "six years waiting for the crash  you
>know is coming."  Apparently it was evident less than 6 months after  the
>Burpee purchase that it would not work out.
>George Ball said: "It wasn't profitable a profitable business when we  bought
>Business was so bad, Mr. Ball said, he asked the former owners to buy
>Heronswood back for $2,000,000. "They took a day to think about it, and 
>said  no."
>Burpee bought the business for $4,500,000.
>The most striking quote, and I admire Mr. Hinkley for being forthright and
>blaming himself for being naive:  " Mea culpa," he said  "This entire  set of
>circumstances comes down to me, and my decision was wrong."
>Mark  Mazer
>Intarsia Ltd.
>PO Box 142
>Gaylordsville, CT  06755
>pbs mailing list

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