David Austin Buyer Beware

treehugger101May 10, 2014

Last year I ordered 15 roses direct from David Austin. One survived. Two arrived so dormant they never broke. I communicated with the company who put me off with this excuse and that one. It takes time, etc. When I dug them up this year I asked for two replacements only - the ones on an arbor. It took them three weeks to get back to me. Then she said it was too late in the year and gave me a form to fill out saying they wanted pictures and the dead roses back. At any point in the year they could have mentioned this. It is NOT on their website. I threw the roses away a couple of weeks ago as I cleaned up. I am so furious. Never again. I will go to Lowe's and spend $10 and get a rose that blooms.

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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I am confused, what happened to the other 13? If one survived and two never woke up when you received them. Were those the two that were on the arbor? Curious what roses you ordered.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 5:51PM
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fogrose(zone 10/sunset 17)

treehugger100, please be aware that plants purchased from big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot are treated with pesticides that KILL BEES. There are a number of petitions circulating demanding that the big box stores stop this but they have not as yet.

You would be better off getting roses from companies that care about the environment like the Antique Rose Emporium etc.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 7:28PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Here's my lessons learned on mail order plant vendors:

1. Always always read the guarantee and follow what it says exactly if there is any chance at all you will need a refund.

2. Always buy just 1 or 2 plants from a place you are not familiar with first, before a big order. To see what you get before spending a lot of $$$$

3. Not every vendor works out for everyone. Lots of people here got great stuff from Heirloom and Vintage. I got maybe 20% success.

Sorry to hear of your problems. I got 2 roses from a popular vendor last year--one is terrific, the other one is a miserable RMV infected mess I'll probably throw out. It's always a roll of the dice--even from Lowe's, where incidentally I got a Belinda's Dream off the "death rack" for $5 and it is absolutely thriving and gorgeous.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Diane, Thanks for the good information about bees. We plant almost every flower specifically to be bee friendly. I have a small oracherd so I love my bees.

Hoovb - I DID read the guarantee which is one reason I was so upset but it was the long drawn out process that set me over. It is moot now though. After sending her a very irate email, she condescended to replace the roses. We will see what kind of condition these are in.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 8:07PM
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Would body bagged roses, which are not blooming and often not even leafed out, also be treated with the nasty bee killing cides? I had supposed it was just the bedding plants.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 8:14PM
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Kippy-the-Hippy - Sorry I missed your question. I ordered 2 St. Swithuns which grew like crazy but did not bloom. I have hopes for this year.
Heritage - 1 bloom. It is still alive which is something.
Charlotte - not disease resistant at all but it did throw several blooms.
Crown Princess Margaret were the ones that never leafed out and died. I could go on but you get the picture. Overall considering the Winter, I am 20% happy with the order from DA.

I ordered 8 roses from Heirloom, too. New Day which was supposed to be a shrub rose shot up 8 feet and bloomed like crazy the first year - a lovely yellow with fragrance. That and Julia Childe from J & P were my best of last year's purchases and they are doing great so far.

I will have to find a nursery where I can get instant grat (I'm 55 after all), won't kill bees and not pay as much on a crap shoot.

Thanks for letting me rant. I appreciate you listening.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Is there a local nursery that carries roses with out spraying them?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 10:08PM
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alameda/zone 8

I am really surprised at the attitude from DA. I have never had a problem with their roses - even when I had to leave some soaking for WAY too long - then potted them up and put 2 in the ground and kept them watered - they all are living and thriving. They have sent me the wrong rose once - and immediately replaced it and told me to keep the first rose. Never heard of them wanting roses back - I live about 2 hours from the DA store in Tyler - they are always unfailingly polite. Wonder if you got someone new that didn't know how customers should be treated.......I would call back and maybe you will get someone else - ask the name of the person you are speaking with so you will know in future. I am really surprised at this - have been dealing with DA for years with nary a problem. Please try again........hopefully you will get a satisfactory result. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:38AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

You can buy David Austin Roses from other vendors and they are often own root. Probably not the latest releases, but most of the favorites. Roses Unlimited in South Carolina carries a lot of them and they send large potted roses. I've actually been to the nursery and it's wonderful.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:13AM
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vettin(z6b Northern VA)

No experience with David Austin so cannot provide any opinions there. I will second the vote for Roses Unlimited, big plants that do well in this zone

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:29AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I only purchase from mail order nurseries, and love the one I use. When I call, i make a note of the person I speak with, and call regularly.

I would like to suggest that you go to the management, and explain the problem, and send pictures if necessary. You never can tell who might have answered the phone, and covered for a good customer service rep who just went out for lunch.

David Austin has a good reputation even though in my part of the country, I am not sure that the roses are as successful as they are in other places.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:40AM
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"I will have to find a nursery where I can get instant grat"

In general, horticulture and instant gratification are mutually exclusive, unless you're talking Petunias or Radishes.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Kippy-the-Hippy I drove 30 miles each way to go to a very large nursery in MD where I used to live. I only have a car though so I can't get large roses, trees or shrubs from them which is too bad because they are always beautiful. I see bees everywhere on the property so if they spray, I guess more find their way. It is mostly outdoors. Their turnover is so fast that nothing has a chance for disease maybe.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:22AM
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Judith, I dealt with several people over the past year. I love their roses but will need to find another alternative to bare root. You are in a much more forgiving zone so maybe that makes the difference. Zone 6A needs the beasts.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:25AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Judith said: have been dealing with DA for years with nary a problem.

I agree.

And I am in zone 6 also --my roses are roughly half bareroot and half ownroot. Both do fine here.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:27PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Treehugger, most nurseries will deliver either free with in a small range with a large purchase or at a fairly low cost. Since you have had such issues and want instant large plants, it seems like the way to go.

I took my small suv with the seats down several times to the big nursery that is over 65 miles each way when I could only fit two or three plants (large David Austins in the green 5g Austin pots) because my 90 year old mom was not going to wait for bands to grow out.

I could have bought them bareroot from a local nursery, but these were the ones they did not carry.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:15PM
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vasue(7A Charlottesville)

Many times nurseries offer delivery within a specific radius or area. You might ask the very large nursery you like about their delivery policies & options. Still visit nurseries near a former home 70 miles away roundtrip. They all deliver to my current area as well. If they supply local retail outlets or have a landscape installation job lined up in my neck of the woods, they'll drop off my plants to my home at the same time for a token appreciation fee. If they need to make a special trip, it's often a set price within 50 miles roundtrip plus so much per mile above that. They know me after many years, but the first conversation all began with a variation on this theme. "I really would like to buy this large & wonderful fill-in-the-blank from you, but I live 30 miles away & can't drive it home due to size/weight. How can you help me purchase this, what do you suggest?"

Explore your options. Often very reasonable (sometimes even free) to arrange delivery. You could always rent a you-haul or tow-along. Don't laugh - it's been done! Explore your options...

Edited to add - Kippy, must have been writing this as you were posting your comment - we think alike! What I can't stuff into the old Suburban must make it back here some way, and being our own landscapers, we find a way. Often take a roll of tyvek, scissors, tape, bungee cords, flattened down boxes when hunting large plants so they can be wrapped & supported lengthwise when upright won't fit. Hardcore, I know...

This post was edited by vasue on Sun, May 11, 14 at 15:20

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:44PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

treehugger, I wonder if you might be planting your bareroots a little late and that's part of the problem? I'm not in your zone, so other folks would have to chime in on that. But here, I have a much (MUCH) harder time with them if I plant them this late, like if I caught a great sale :D The heat just comes so fast that they don't really get a spring like they like.

Vendors who still sell them later than zones should really plant them must know that, though, I'd think.

(I have one fruit tree still to arrive that will be under warranty [clearance price], and I think the vendor and I both know it's a roll of the dice here in my zone this time of year. It's worth a shot and the extra care to me, but it really might not make it because of the timing.)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Vasue, I can not tell you how many times I have driven home with a plant running the length of the small suv resting on the dash :) I have a small truck too, but no a/c and it is in the upper 90s usually where I buy, I can get 4 big Austins is in, but nothing too long because of the short bed and shell.

The nurseries usually have plastic you can protect the car with too. I keep blankets in the car to protect it from plants (like over the top and saving the headliner from being green)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:43PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

I've had great success ordering DA from Pickering in Canada in the past (on multiflora). Those ordered from David Austin in Texas did alright at first but the Dr. Huey root stock seems to do poorer in the clay soil here over time. Own-root Austins have been hit-or-miss depending on how vigorous they are.

Bare roots should be planted around mid-March here, or late October/early November. They can be slow to leaf out and may not bloom much the first year.

I think you shouldn't expect "instant gratification" from any vendor. The saying goes "first year sleeps, second year creeps, third year leaps". You should expect to wait at least three years to judge a rose's performance (assuming it's not dead, of course). Sparse bloom for the first year or two is not an indication of the rose's ultimate performance.

Also, this past winter was an unusually harsh one and I lost a few old, established Austins and more cut down hard due to winter kill.

Also, not all Austins are disease-resistant enough to thrive in this area without spraying fungicides for blackspot control. I don't spray any more and grow about a fifth of the number of Austins that I used to, they were not resistant enough. You might check for local recommendations on specific varieties before ordering any more to save you $$$ in the long term.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:30PM
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My goodness, why can't anyone express their experiences, both good and bad, without catching flak. I understand the "instant gratification" this person is referring to. It's called wanting larger plants as opposed to something like a small band. The larger rose takes off much faster. I also understand the frustration of getting bad customer service. There are many ways to spend our free dollars, and mine will not go back to a business that makes me feel bad.

For example, roses from the Antique Rose Emporium or a local nursery have always taken off quite quickly for me. They don't "sleep" all that much. A band on the other hand takes a long time....two or three years to catch up. In fact, my 3 gallon Mutabilis needed quite the haircut after one year in the ground. He did not sleep at all.

I too have wasted a lot of money on poor quality plants, even from "reputable" mail order nurseries. A few years ago I had a bad experience with a vender, more than once, and some people were all over me like a rabid dog.

I now order only from Antique Rose Emporium and Roses Unlimited when I can't get what I'd like locally. Their customer service is always top notch and never rude. They always sent plants that were paid for and never once took my money and then told me the plant "was not ready". They never blamed me if a rose needed to be replaced, which was extremely rare. They always answer e-mails and phone calls. Ditto for Roses Unlimited. I was satisfied with Chamblees in the past as well, but ARE and RU are my favorites. Vintage was also very good, but I would order larger plants when available since some of the bands would struggle with the change in climate from their original home. Vintage had top notch customer service as well.

If a business is rude or uncaring they sour that customer forever. It does not matter if five other people had a great experience or not.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:35AM
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Sow_what? Southern California Inland

Treehugger, I'm so sorry your experience was a negative one. My many experiences with this company have been 100% positive; in fact, I feel they've gone above and beyond, helping me select the appropriate roses, not only for my zone and microclimates, but for the intended use within the space. I called many times with a multitude of questions before buying a single thing, and they were always gracious, and connected me with the person in the company who could answer my questions. I finally ended up purchasing about the same number of bare roots this season as you did. Despite our erratic weather, all the Austins leafed out quickly, and all are doing beautifully. I called David Austin to report some issues with the color of one of the roses, and they demonstrated great concern in making sure everything was right. I'm very impressed with this company, and completely swept away by the beauty of their roses. I work in gardens almost every day, and to my heart, there is nothing more beautiful than a well-chosen David Austin rose. I know this sounds silly, but they absolutely overwhelm me with their beauty, and seeing them in bloom is a bright spot in my day. I've also purchased Souvenir de la Malmaison and several other OGRs bare root this season, but none of them have bloomed yet, despite that they were planted at the same time as the Austins. I have great hope that they will make my heart soar the way Austins do, and will certainly report and post photos for the kind and generous people on this forum.

My suggestion is that you report the person who treated you so badly. I imagine the company will be grateful for the opportunity to correct inappropriate behavior and make things right.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 6:10PM
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I am pretty new to growing Roses and am just to the falling in love stage with the old roses and all the varieties. I want to get my first what I call REAL Rose that I know the name and habits and specific care instructions for as opposed to the ones at Lowes that looked good I grabbed and planted. Can you guys give me a list of places online that you believe are very good and very reliable for ordering one? Also would love to hear what you all would suggest as my first purchase.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 6:33PM
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