impressions of the new Pike?/Atlanta nurseries

maylandApril 14, 2008

I live near the Toco Hills Pike and have always loved going there, if only to browse.

Now they have re-stocked and given themselves a bit of a facelift after their chapter 11/sale thing. I've been in a few times since, and I'm very sad that I don't feel the same about them. They've gone more upmarket with their displays, and I believe with their pricing too.

My biggest peeve is that they no longer stock many shrubs in smaller sizes (1-gal). Most are in 3-gal or bigger pots, making the starting price around $20-30-40 depending on the shrub. I have a lot of space to fill and just don't have the budget to buy everything in that price. Also, don't smaller size shrubs establish faster and generally do better?

On Friday I went in to see if they have any of my current wish-list (Fothergilla, Kalmia, Enkianthus, Sambucus nigra, Cotinus, Farfugium). They did not have any of these. I did find a Callicarpa americana reduced to $3 as it was a slightly odd shape, which I bought.

I looked at Ligularia and Tiarella and asked the manager whether they would be evergreen here. He said "no, they are perennials". I said, "well, some perennials are evergreen". His reply was that they no longer indicate whether a perennial is likely to be evergreen or not "in case the plant dies back in a hard winter and the customer comes back to complain". I bought the Tiarella but left feeling that I need to find another nursery to frequent.

What are your impressions of the new Pike?

And, on a related note, do any of the Atlanta nurseries carry a good selection of smaller-sized shrubs (I'm thinking about a trip to the Alpharetta ones)? Or am I destined to mail-order if I want to stick to the $10/shrub price range?

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I don't know for sure, but a good way to find out is to call them first. Some places can check their stock via computer and a phone call can be an easy way for you to avoid an unnecessary trip.

But if you ever make it over to the Alpharetta area, I have a Sambucus in a one gallon pot that I'd be happy to give you. Just send me a note and perhaps we can meet somewhere. I'm close to Buck Jones in Woodstock (about 8 miles north of Crabapple).

Buck Jones does have some one gallons, but not the ones you're looking for (2 gallon kalmia according to their catalog). I need to go over there and get some one gallon Leucothoe axillaris.

I have not been in Pike's lately so I can't comment on that. I was really sorry that Home Depot Landscape closed as they did have one gallon sizes (as well as 3 gal and 7 gal and up).

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 11:06AM
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jmzms(z7 Alpharetta, GA)

I was in Pike's about 2-3 weeks ago and also noticed the lack of smaller sizes, even in things like butterfly bushes, etc. I chalked it up to timing of the season and orders not being in yet, but ... who knows? I haven't been back in a few weeks. I'm about at my planting max for spring. :-(

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 12:12PM
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Not sure where you are at in Atlanta, but the Growers Outles in Loganville can't be beat as far as selection and
prices go. They usually have every shrub in 1 gallon as well as the bigger sizes for you to choose from. You can check their avalability on line, and if you are buying more than just a couple of plants, its usually worth the price. Check out their website at:

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 12:23PM
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I frequent the Pikes in the Town Lake area. Since I have limited space to add plants, except for perinneals and annuals, I enjoy walking through the store with their new layout. I did find some hydrangeas, about 1 month ago for $5.00/1 gallon (sale-clearance).

I really like purchasing from Lady Slipper Rare Plant nursery and Scottsdale Farms.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 2:13PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

It is hard to be able to buy shrubs from the suppliers in smaller sizes and even for the nursery to buy them for $10 or less right now. The average gallon non-native shrub is $8-$9 from the supplier and natives are often a dollar or two more, although they are usually in 3 gallon containers.
I help run a garden center, we try to buy from the places with lower prices that are fairly local. Don't forget that on top of the charge of the shrub, the nurseries are charging a whalloping deliver fee which is often $100-$150 a truck and that gets passed along to the buyer.
Growers outlet is awesome but the quality isn't always there. You need to be willing to do a bit of pruning and tidying on the shrubs and take care to get them out of pots quickly as they are often root bound. That is just the nature of the plants there - they are often overstock from growers or plants that the buyer has turned down once they've seen them.
To find what you are looking for you may need to travel farther and travel to quite a few different places. There are several places in the Woodstock area that carry native shrubs and it might be a very good idea to "Gang" up on them, one day and hit them all to get the nice variety you are looking for.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 2:46PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

couple thoughts on this - i recently went to the Pikes @ Toco with the neighbors looking for trees after someone at the Toco store said they had a lot of brown turkey figs (which we wanted). we got there and they had three figs, none of which were brown turkey.

i pulled out my blackberry and pulled the number for the Roswell rd. store and asked them - they said yes, i had them put a hand on it to be sure, and we went there - slightly smaller store, but better organized selection - way better shrubs, bette rlooking plants, friendlier and more knolwedgable staff.

granted - YMMV - but i'd give that a shot. from the Toco store, it's just a hop skip and jump across Druid Hill(/Roxboro Rd) -> Peachtree -> Lenox -> Piedmont -> Roswell :D

meanwhile, if you can grow fothergilla from cuttings or if it seeds and you have the patience to do so, you're welcome to raid my 3-4 second/third year fothergilla gardenii and take a few clippings etc. the two or three i have in front are doing super, and the one on my northern wall is doing "fair".

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 4:24PM
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Thanks for your suggestions everyone. I called Perennial Grace and Scottsdale and they both said they do carry 1-gal sizes in some shrubs. Per. Grace has 3-gal fothergilla for $16, which sounds pretty reasonable to me!

GGG, thanks for the insight from the nursery side of things. I think perhaps Pike has just upped its prices a little more - I used to be happy to pay extra for the great quality and knowledge there, but having being given that line about evergreen perennials, I don't feel that they are quite so concerned about the customer any longer. So, I'm going to take a trip to Alpharetta and visit a few there, as you suggest.

Blazepepper, thanks for suggesting Growers Outlet. I've bought tons of azaleas from them lately, a camellia, oak-leak hydrangea and a few other things. I just have a few plants I want that they don't have, but I did enjoy going there. GGG, you are right the quality is not as good (everything i bought was very pot-bound), but given the price its pretty fair that the plants are sort-of "seconds". I hope with a bit of nurturing they will do well.

Esh and Satellitehead, thank you both so much for your very kind offers! This forum is such a nice place. I have a few cuttings on the go (hydrangea and daphne) and I'm not sure I'm all that good at it (or patient enough), so I might just buy a 3-gal fothergilla from perennial grace, if they still have them. Esh, I would love to meet and to take your sambucus, thats wonderful of you! I'll send you an email when I am thinking of going and see if that might work out.

I'd really rather not mail-order shrubs, so I'm very grateful for all the suggestions of other places in town.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:42AM
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woody_ga(7a GA)

I think... the Roswell store has the same manager as before. I heard that they have some specials running, but I haven't been there myself. I need to fix that and go see for myself!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:47AM
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I was at the Toco Hills location recently. I did find some things that I really liked, but was not happy with the herb selection. I've always bought herbs there because they grow so huge and are a good price for what you get. I just didn't feel that the selection was as good as before. Perhaps they didn't have a full stock yet, but I think I'll be heading to the Grower's Outlet in Loganville after looking at their site.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 10:09AM
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I was in the Acworth store this past Sunday (Apr. 13). It was the first time I'd been in this Pike's since last summer and was surprised at how the inside of the store had changed in that there was much less from which to choose in the way of pots, windchimes, on. The outside part looked okay, but I too found the prices to be a lot higher than last year. I did find some coral bells on a clearance table where you buy one and get one of equal or less price, free.

I was particularly interested in the Miss Huff lantana but they were out. They did tell me they expected a shipment this week. I know...lantana is considered invasive in some areas, but I like it. I had some when I lived in Zone 8 and it was perennial, but not only did I have Miss Huff, I had (don't remember their given names) white and yellow that were perennial in that zone. The white is my favorite and Pike's had a good choice, but I became spoiled to it being a perennial and don't want to have to re-plant every year. I guess I'll have to settle for Miss Huff or resign myself to not having any at all!

They did have a good selection of David Viburnum and I bought a couple of those, along with a few other shade-loving-flowering plants.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 2:03PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

mayland, with regard to the Toco store...if it's of any consolation, the guy who (tried to) help me openly told me he'd never worked in a nursery before, he was "surprised" they gave him the job, he likes plants but didn't know about them, and couldn't tell me much of anything about the trees. i was absolutely relieved by the wealth of info the gentleman @ Roswell store had.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 3:55PM
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Beverly, I have found the 'New Gold' lantana to be perennial as well. The trick is that you can't cut off the dead stems until the chance of freezing weather is past. Since the stems are hollow, water can get in and freeze. I have had a group at my house for 3 or more years and at the elementary school for over 6 years. Always comes back.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:01PM
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that's funny (and sad). i asked a couple of other questions of the staff there, and all they could do was point me to the tag on the plant for info.

Sounds like I need to go to the Roswell Pike as well as the Alpharetta nurseries. If only this day-job thing wouldnt get in the way of my gardening needs!

I forgot to mention earlier, I went to Ashe-Simpson (Peachtree Indust) on Sunday and they were very nice and had a shrub sale area. i got a 7-gal double-file viburnum, a 3-gal clethra 16 candles, and a 3-gal alleghany virburnum for $10 each. They all look slightly deformed, but that fits my garden quite well at the moment.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:10PM
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oops, i meant that Satellitehead's comment about Pike was funny/sad, not Esh's about the lantana -- I can't type very fast!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:19PM
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Thank, esh! I will check into that one, as well. It makes sense to not trim them because of the hollow stems...I never had to worry about that in Zone 8, so I never thought about it here.

Does "New Gold" grow as large as "Miss Huff?"

Again, thanks; I'm excited about this!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 6:59PM
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No, 'New Gold' only gets about 2 feet high and wide for me. You will see it sprout back from the base of the plant so it won't bloom until late May, but heck you can't beat not having to buy it and plant it again! I love lantana and even love the smell of it. It's not invasive around here, not even Miss Huff.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 7:36PM
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That's wonderful to know. I don't mind waiting until late May for blooms since, as you said, it beats having to replant every year. I love the smell, too. I'll check into finding some of these. My parents have to replant every year; they are north of us, not far from Chattanooga. I'm going to try to find some for them, as well.

Thank You!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 12:36PM
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