Did it survive, did it die, or is it yet to emerge? I don’t know about you, but every spring morning I make my tour of the front, side, and back: Ah, finally, the blooms-on-old-wood macrophylla is showing some green! Thank god, only one of the fancy heucheras I spent a fortune on died! What do you know, the ground cover the roofers buried under debris came back!
There are always some casualties. I dug up a bounteous Carefree Beauty rose bush (above, prior to the assassination) and planted it in a new spot late in the season and it didn’t make it. It was a bonehead move; I’m still kicking myself.
This is all standard angst-of-the-gardener stuff. In fact, I kind of want a few things to die to make room for new purchases. But sometimes, the losses are tougher to accept. Take my friend. We’ll call her C. She bought a young red maple, a smoke bush, and two other ornamental shrubs I don’t remember the name of from a local nursery last fall. Dead, dead, dead, and dead. This particular nursery does not guarantee its large plants; i.e., no money back, or even a replacement. Return policies varies from business to business. I think many of the landscape services around here will replace failed shrubs and such for a couple years, while a few garden centers also offer some sort of guarantee, often with stipulations.
There was a really long thread on Gardenweb about this; some nursery-owners spoke of “serial returners.” Others explained that they dealt with individual problems on a case-by-case basis. According to one of our local garden writers, plant consumers should not expect returns. She notes: I hope staff reminded you about watering, encouraged compost amendments, gave you planting information. But keeping them alive is then your job. Plants aren’t furniture.
Actually, I think my friend’s problem may have been fall planting. In spite of all the received wisdom to the contrary—everybody here says plant in the fall—I think fall planting can be tough in Buffalo. Most of the perennials I’ve lost were planted late in the season or in the fall. (And of course, we have the idiotic case of the fall-transplanted rose bush.)
It’s an interesting question. Should we expect money-back guarantees or replacements? I can see where strong cases can be made on both the consumer and vendor side. Just like my dead Carefree Beauty, it’s all thorns.