Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

I purchased a Dwarf White Pine from Mori Gardens, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on Saturday, July 12th. I couldn't find this pine in my area, and on a family trip to the Niagara area I decided to visit Mori to see if they had one.

There was one left, located in their prime display at the front of the garden centre, priced at $99.99.

I brought it home and planted it on Monday. Unfortunately, the pine began to turn brown by Wednesday. I called Mori and the employee I spoke to led me through the usual questions about how I had watered it or not, etc. I explained that I am a horticulturist and garden designer, and that I've worked for CBC radio as a gardening phone-in expert. Yes, I had watered it and no, not too much.

Mori Gardens' dead Dwarf White Pine

The new garden with Mori Gardens' dead Dwarf White Pine

Mori's guarantee on nursery stock reads as follows:

"The Mori 100% two year guarantee is subject to the presentation of your receipt and the dead nursery stock. We will replace the full amount paid once for guaranteed plants that die within two years after the purchase date by a credit note - no cash refunds."

The employee insisted that I bring the dead plant in, as per their policy. I explained that I lived near Sudbury, an 8 hour drive from the garden centre, and could I just email them a photo? The answer was no.

I know exactly what happened to this plant and why it died. At some point shortly before I bought the plant, it had been allowed to totally dry out. Conifers cannot handle this, but unfortunately they don't show the damage for several days. This poor pine was doomed before I even laid eyes on it.

What I have learned from this expensive experience is that I will never buy a conifer from a garden centre (and certainly not from Mori Gardens!) that is any distance away from my home. You can't tell right away that they haven't been cared for properly.

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