The economy claims another...

tishtoshnm Zone 6/NMNovember 27, 2012

My favorite local business is going under. I did my best to support them this year, probably did a little too much. I hate to see nurseries go under. I post this here because I am sure that there are many here who also shop at High Country Gardens and will be sad to see them go.

Here is a link that might be useful: Story in the Albuquerque Journal

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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

Perhaps it was the economy and three years of severe drought.

Some nurseries in Ohio couldn't give away annuals this summer due to heat and drought conditions. We're warned to conserve water, so why waste money buying them?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 3:38PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

I am sure that there are many here who also shop at High Country Gardens

I tried a few of their plants that were supposed to grow in Southern California and had very little luck. I'm surprised that there wasn't enough support from the areas where the plants were supposed to thrive. I guess with drought and the recession, landscaping becomes a lower priority.

Were local nurseries also offering the same xeric plants? The brand Native Sons offers some of the same stock as High Country, and I can buy them at a local nursery... and they survive.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 3:57PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

No one else in the area had quite as large of a selection and many varieties were exclusive to them. My guess would have to also be that it was a combination of the economy, the drought and the fires all at once. They had been around for a long while so it was undoubtedly not the first drought they had ever seen.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:04PM
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ohiomom

My first "knee jerk" reaction was "I wonder if big box stores" also played into the role of the closing of what reads like the closing of a family-owned business. Found this at the bottom of the article:

"nearby competition from national chains offering lower prices such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot also hurt business"

As we recently read in the "Christmas frenzy shopping threads", most people it seems only talk about supporting small businesses when it is a "partisan talking point".

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:13PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

As we recently read in the "Christmas frenzy shopping threads", most people it seems only talk about supporting small businesses when it is a "partisan talking point".

That is the sad reality. As trendy as it is to fuss about supporting small business and local shops, it doesn't seem to translate to the real world.

The talk is on a grand scale, but the action is not.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:17PM
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david52_gw

Weren't they kinda like a High Country Gardens, with specialized plants?

Here, there are three main nurseries with different bid'ness models and different niches. The one thing that they all remark on is when there are fires and smoke around, nobody buys or plants anything.

And we're still all on the cusp of a disastrous drought, far worse than 2002.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:19PM
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huachuma

We're losing our three Capitol Nurseries in the Central Valley; one already closed and the other two very close... They were about the only place that I could find vegetable starts "out of season". But not really out of season, because we have such a lengthy growing season for both summer and fall varieties.

For instance, I can plant things like lettuce, peas, carrots, etc. anytime between early October and late February and still get good results. The other nurseries in the area tell us that certain crops are "out of season" as early as the beginning of November. I'm guessing that it's an excuse not to carry plants that may not sell as well as they would prefer; perfectly understandable.

I got along well with most of the staff at this small chain, but I did notice that many employees had little tolerance for neophytes and sometimes became testy with those asking "dumb questions". Not a good strategy to act rude to your customers especially in this economy...

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 6:40PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Chains with their very poor selection being able to kill off independents means that there is not enough of a market for variety within the local area to support the independents. Many small nurseries have for a long time needed to sell through the mail (and later the internet) in order to make it. I think this particular operation did ship out of state, at least at one time, going back some years so if they were still doing that and failed it wouldn't be due just to what big boxes were doing in the neighborhood.

Unless combined local and national sales were keeping them open.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:57PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

High Country.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:00PM
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labrea_gw

We lost a number of great Rose Nurseries in the last 10 years without them varieties that have existed for centuries will no longer be available in the US.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:19PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

I'm helping to keep Annie's Annuals in business (by buying her perennials).

bboy probably knows the name, which escapes me at the moment, of the specialty nursery (they did mail order too) in Washington that was bought out by a large concern. Heronswood? I don't know what happened to the nursery except that I no longer receive catalogues.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:35PM
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jmc01

Heronswood Nursery was bought by Burpee's in 2006. Dan Hinckley still writes for Horticulture magazine- I believe.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:42PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Hinkley has his own web site and is affiliated with Monrovia, as well as doing a variety of other things. Burpee still puts out a Heronswood catalog, now color photo illustrated and originating back east.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:32PM
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lavenderlver

From what Huachuma writes, it sounds as if HGC's demise might be attributed a small bit to the economy, but moreso their own doing. Alienating customers is not a good thing.

Allen Haskell's place was another example of less than stellar customer service. Stunning grounds, unique plantings, decent prices, but Allen could, depending on how the wind blew, be very gracious and helpful or extremely testy (the very corner of his nose would curl up). I'm sure he scared away a customer or two. Allen has unfortunately passed...he was a talented man.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:22AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

And the days of "Closed...see you in the Spring" are long over for garden centers that want to survive.

The smart ones are fully stocked with quality permanent Christmas trees, wreaths, decorating services, etc. Winter isn't a time to vacation in Aruba while the competition is winning over your customers. There is a family owned center down here that offers tree decorating and outdoor lighting. Busy people with money buy those services! offer them!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:11AM
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jodik_gw

In a normal economic downturn, one of the things that usually does okay is the plant business. People continue to enjoy the simple pleasures, like gardening... and growing edible gardens makes a leap. But when you add in the changing weather patterns and natural disasters, in addition to a downturn, people just aren't spending money, I guess. Too, pricing has risen on everything, and people that are satisfied with lesser quality at a cheap cost go that route... to the big box stores. Ergo, niche specialty outfits don't stand a chance.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

And the local growers cater to the box stores too. They are not loyal to the local garden centers since most small timers can't keep them in business.

If you're a farmer and you have 5,000 pumpkins to sell, where do you go? To the garden center who wants 40, or sign a 3 year contract with the box store who will take your 5,000 plus more?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:05PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

In my area, the effects of these things is that it is becoming more and more difficult to acquire plants and that are well adapted to our challenging environment. On the vegetable front, Seeds of Change was purchased by Nestle who a couple of years ago closed the seed operation in Santa Fe (whose growing conditions are much more similar to mine than they are in Albuquerque). On the perennial front, High Country Gardens did a lot of work on new varieties. There is a very small mom and pop nursery in my town that is open from April to July and they get a lot of my business but they do not have the focus on water wise plants that High Country Gardens did. For me, I am going to have work harder at finding people in my area with the knowledge base to help me meet the challenges of my climate in a responsible way.

As far as the plant business still doing well in an down economy, one thing I found interesting several years ago when a different long time retail arm of a family nursery business decided to close their doors, one thing they cited was a change in attitude regarding gardens. They noted that while many people had no problem obtaining loans to spend many thousands of dollars on electronic equipment for their homes, fewere people were willing to invest such a large amount of money into their yards/landscaping. Further, many of the newer homes are on smaller lots, limiting the number of plants that can be placed. I am not saying this is right or wrong as far ias financial priorities, but it certainly impacts the shift in dollars spent.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:34PM
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david52_gw

Another bit of really bad news - High Country Gardens is closing as well.

For those of you not in the Rocky Mountain Region, HCG has long been a source of fantastic plants adapted to the harsh growing conditions we find here.

Here is a link that might be useful: website announcing demise

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:03AM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

I am very sorry to see High Country Gardens close. I ordered many, many plants from them and their plants were of good quality.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:29PM
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