What good-guy nursery promotions work for you?



Somehow the announcement that a mail-order nursery in Omaha, NE is looking for good causes for their $5,000 giveaway got circulated on Yahoo groups in the Washington, D.C. area, so right off the bat this looks like a smart promotional event.  I mean entries haven’t even opened yet and Nature Hills is getting lots of favorable attention, which may continue for another 5 months before reaching a crescendo when they announce the winners. (Here are the details.)

Now I’ve never ordered plants from Nature Hills, but based on this giveaway to good causes, I’d consider giving them a try if I couldn’t find a plant locally (though I just bet I could find any plant closer than the 1,145 miles between Omaha and DC – a point I just bet a commenter would raise if I didn’t.)

Now for retail garden centers, ya gotta go local.  One near me displays on its website
the ongoing good works they do – all for causes in their community
(though grossly out of date, I notice).  And selfishly, I admit I can’t get enough of the free or $5 talks and workshops offered by garden centers throughout the
winter, and just wish they were more heavily promoted and attended.

See, we may rant occasionally about the hort biz but it’s always out of our desperate need for nurseries to get more great plants into our greedy hands,  So it’s in that pro-business spirit that I ask: What promotions work for you guys?


  1. Our favorite promotions involve community events staged at the nursery. We have built a picnic grounds under the valley oaks. (almost)Any group that is interested can use it. We have had the Master Gardeners use it for three years as the setting for their annual picnic. Same with the local garden clubs, service clubs, etc. We have started to offer private workshops for anyone interested. Have a club that want’s to make hyper-tufa pots, we’ll do it!

    We just had our annual scarecrow contest and the local paper had pictures of the winners. We had a great day, including the sales. The next day was sloooooow. The key is to have events or workshops that get people in the door. Once in they generally spend money with us. These days with so many different ways to spend your hard earned money you almost have to have an event to get people to visit. That’s ok since I believe that is the way for garden centers to become the community center. People want to have a good time, and people want to learn about gardening.

    I am also convinced that direct communication with people who want to hear your message is key. Our e-news gets sent to around 900 plus people. Out of those 900 maybe only 200 open the e-news. Out of those 200 maybe only 20 to 40 respond. Those 20 responding people can make or break your day. They are interested and willing to take action. They wanted to hear from us! So I send out the e-news once a week.

    Fun events and workshops combined with direct communication with people who WANT to hear your message can make a big difference.

  2. You ready? Nature Hills Nursery can burn in hell. Hell I say. Not so much for their plants–6 dogwoods are growing very fine indeed, and one, a halo, was much larger than I’d hoped to get. No, they can burn in hell (burn burn burn) for the craptastic customer service. See, late March I placed my dogwood order, figuring that 8 weeks was enough time to get my plants delivered before I left for a two week hiatus from Lincoln, NE. Two weeks before leaving I emailed, and called after an unhlepful email response–where are they, it’s way past your estimated ship date, weeks past. They’ll ship in a few days they promise me. A week later I call–they’ll ship in a few days. Uh, I’m leaving soon, can I pay for expedited now so they don’t wilt on my porch? No. Can I come pick them up, I live 45 minutes away and will be there tomorrow anyway. Nope. Emails. Phone calls. Nasty people from the first call and email just lying to me (I’m editing for length here). They stay on the porch for two weeks, luckily a shaded porch, and by some divine miracle still had leaves and moist soil. I’m not a jerk, a regular customer service nightmare, but I got some really bad service and the run around and even the avoidance that is just enough to send a mellow midwesterner into insanity–and since we tend to hold in our anger out here and not tell ya how we really feel so as not to burden you, when it comes out it comes out hard and fast. That’s all I have to say about that. Time for godiva.

  3. Benjamin,

    We certainly want to apologize that you had such a negative experience with Nature Hills, Nursery. At the same time, comments like these that are brutally honest (although maybe a little overly harsh at times) help us to try and better our serve to our customers.

    I am not sure about all of the details surrounding the situation, but I know that we are not always able to accommodate in person pick-ups. We have different centers that we ship out of in the region, and the dogwoods may have been coming from somewhere other than Omaha. I can say that it was especially difficult to judge shipping times this last spring, as the weather would not cooperate (as we were still getting hard frosts in the month of April here in Nebraska). Every time our warehouses were ready to ship, the weather prevented us from safely sending the product.

    However, these obstacles do not excuse the lack of customer service that you received. Better communication between our warehouse and call center could have helped to keep you informed of the issues that were occurring. Hearty plant material doesn’t make up for customer dissatisfaction. We are glad to hear that the dogwoods that you received are growing well, and we would like an opportunity to make up for the failed service if you would be willing to try another order with us. If you are willing to give us a chance to make it up to you, we will offer you a 10% discount on your next order. You can just e-mail us with your name and order number so that we can set this up for you.


    Nature Hills

Comments are closed.