Frequently Asked Questions

I do try to give an honest appraisal of each plant’s habits in its description, but I am very happy to offer specific advice with no obligation. It’s not much help for you to email to say “I have a small pond and I’d like some plants; what can you suggest?” as it’s a bit like going to Tesco’s and asking “I’d like some food – what can you suggest?”! Please first read all the plentiful information on the site, but if you are still unsure why not purchase an appropriate pond pack.

These are composed of easy to grow, non-invasive plants which will give a full season of interest. There is a large range of bare root and potted options to suit all budgets.

The most economic format to purchase is bare root, this is our speciality. These plants are grown in open ground and harvested as needed, so we do not have the time and expense of potting and de-potting or the increased labour of watering pots. Potted plants need a lot more looking after than open ground grown plants, they are much heavier and so need more packaging and cost more to send. There is also generally quite a lot more material in a 1 litre pot. Details of the various options can be found on the Ordering and Delivery Information page.

Please refer to the Ordering/Ordering Advice and Plant Sizes tab for a detailed description of each option.

Potted plants are available as an option for most plants. Cost will be higher due to increased maintenance, packaging and carriage costs.

Yes, please look at the “Baskets and Sundries” section under the “Shop” tab.

Any time when the plant is actively growing. I am busiest in April and May, and this is a good time to plant, but plants also establish well in September, after flowering, when there is less stress on the plant. It’s best to avoid very hot or very cold periods. Water lilies can only be successfully established from bare rooted plants from April to August. After August and before April I will only send them in pots. Choice may be more limited out of season. I generally don’t advise buying plants in the coldest months of December, January and February, even potted ones; they will get going better from March onwards.

The default situation is that plants are available unless shown out of stock when selected. Please note that this applies only to the option selected, other options for that plants may still be available, eg x10 may be out of stock but x3 in stock, or bare root may be available but 1 litre pots not available, so please check all options.  From about October onwards, if a plant is not available it probably won’t be until the following March/April. Sometimes a plant won’t be available in a given format for the whole season, so if another option is available it may be better to select that.

We get many people asking “When will such and such a plant become available?” A guide to availability appears just below the main plant description, e.g. from Month 3 (March) to Month 10 (October). In many cases, even when the plant is shown as unavailable, they do exist here, and can be looking really good, but would be unsuitable to uproot and send for re-establishment in your pond. Some, like frogbit (Hydrocharis) form microscopic overwintering buds in the bottom sediment and don’t become even visible until they germinate in Spring. Even then they are very tiny and it takes a few weeks for them to be big enough to sell.

If what you want is not available you will be given the option to receive an email when it is next listed. If you wish to be notified when a plant becomes available, select it from the shop and click on the “Notify me when available” link. All through the year there will be plants that will come and go, so it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase all your plants in one hit, though in May to July typically everything will be available subject to stock remaining. Our low carriage charge means that it will not be too painful to make several purchases at the optimum time of year for the plants concerned.

Please select your items, add to your basket, and proceed to the Checkout page where payment options are given. If you cannot pay by these methods then please contact me as I can accept direct payments under certain circumstances. We can no longer accept cheques, sorry.

Smaller bare root orders are sent by Royal Mail so are not generally a problem. If your postman is well trained he/she will know where to leave parcels for you. Larger orders are sent by carrier and a signature is not required. The default instruction is for the driver to “Leave safe”. Please note that this supersedes any standard communication you receive from APC. However if nobody is at the delivery address to receive delivery and there is no obvious safe place to leave the parcel, there is the possibility that the parcel will be returned to the depot. There is nothing I can do about this and delays caused by failed delivery attempts are not my responsibility. If you are unable to be present then please when ordering, in the Notes box, briefly state a place where the parcel can be safely left. I cannot guarantee that the delivery person will read it or act on it and I cannot be responsible for parcels left in an insecure location.

Please look under the “Plant Advice and care/Planting tips” page.

Generally no, we cannot accept forward orders except for larger numbers of plants grown on contract. We only accept orders for plants that we actually have in stock; the website will only accept orders for plants that we have. Once the order has been completed they will be sent within our normal dispatch targets. However, in some cases pre-ordering may be allowed when plants are not quite ready to go but expected within three or four weeks. In this case, any order containing any item that has been pre-ordered will be held until all items are available. This will be clearly indicated at the point of purchase.

There’s no foolproof way of organising a Monday delivery. Carrier services do not collect on Saturdays or Sundays. We can send on Friday, whereupon the parcel will sit in a depot all weekend and should arrive Monday, but there’s no mechanism for a guaranteed Monday delivery. If you have to have them by Monday then I suggest you order them early in the week, aiming to get them delivered on Friday, unpack them and stand in a cool damp place, they will be fine. If you need them on a specific day please give plenty of notice and ask before ordering, we do what we can but can’t work miracles.

I have previously sent plants to many countries, but due to increasing carriage charges and regulations and too many problems with delayed delivery I regret that I no longer send out of the mainland UK. This now includes Eire, Northern Ireland and Channel Islands sorry. Unfortunately we cannot accept the risk of delays or non-delivery, sorry, please contact us first.

This is a similar issue to that described below. Some success can be had, if the slope is not too steep, by filling sandbags with soft sand and wriggling them into position to give a reasonably level planting platform. Alternatively plants can be planted direct into cloth hessian bags containing soil. There is however no substitute for wide, flat shelves 15-20 cm deep.

Dig another pond! This is an old chestnut and I am always being asked this question. The vast majority of marginal plants like to be covered by no more than a few centimetres of water; 1cm is far better than 15cm in most cases. Similarly, many people seem to think that water lilies need to be a metre deep or more; in fact most prefer half that depth. The way to get around this (if the differential is not too great) is to place a large basket full of gravel on the shelf and stand the planted basket on top to bring it up to the desired level. This is better than using an empty upturned basket as a stand, as it is more stable. If your shelf is really deep, and they sometimes are (what were they thinking?!) then I don’t advocate using a wobbly pile of bricks or baskets as it will probably end in disaster. Sometimes the pond was built as a swimming pool or koi pond and it is then very difficult to plant it successfully. I have seen upturned barrels and large terracotta pots, Dexion shelving and all sorts of teetering piles of material used as supports, but the only real solution is a partial or total rebuild, or to not use marginals at all. Alternatively the excess depth can be filled with sand or other inert material without needing an additional liner. Floating plant baskets are available but personally I don’t like them and think they create more problems than they solve.

The single most likely error is that it has been put too deep in the water. Please refer to the plant descriptions for the ideal depth and if possible err on the shallow side. Other possibilities are:

  1. The plant is out of its natural growing season and is still partly dormant.
  2. Leaving the plant in the sun or heat in a polythene bag prior to planting – even in less than a minute, plants can cook this way. Damage may not be immediately apparent but they wilt and fail within a few days.
  3. There is too much foliage for the roots to support after they have been damaged by the cleaning and packing – I do cut back plants for dispatch but if the weather is hot this still may occur. You can’t do any harm by cutting the leaves back some more – it will help the plant to establish.
  4. Too much movement during establishment – if there is a strong current or ducks/amphibians are present then the plant can struggle to establish due to disturbance.
  5. Water quality issues – many people worry about chlorine in the tap water, but this rarely affects plants to any degree. If the water is very green and murky, or shaded, then submerged plants like lilies and oxygenators may not receive enough light and can die back. Irises can struggle in high pH and lilies in low pH, but most plants are fairly tolerant of pH 6 to 8.

We have a no quibble money back guarantee on return of goods but we do ask that complaints are notified within 7 days. Please send a photo illustrating the problem. There are several thousand variants, all constantly being updated, so occasionally availability and prices are incorrectly entered, please excuse us the occasional error which we strive to correct immediately.
Very rarely, parcels go missing or are delayed or damaged; we have no control after they leave the nursery, and even we occasionally make mistakes, so if there is a problem please let me know immediately. We pride ourselves on sorting out the inevitable gremlins as quickly as possible. Of course, a very small percentage of plants do fail for no good reason – that’s in the nature of gardening. This particularly applies to plants bought very late in the season, and I do encourage you to plant from Spring to early autumn only for best results.  Plants should be in top condition on arrival but if they are not please let me know straight away. Plants aren’t guaranteed for life I’m afraid, but you will find us very reasonable if there is a genuine problem that is attributable to us. We do expect to be notified of problems in time to help you to solve them, it is no good waiting for six weeks until a plant is completely dead before telling us it wasn’t ok when it arrived and expecting us to replace it.

You may ask for a full refund at any time prior to dispatch, and after dispatch you have 7 days from delivery to notify us of problems and/or return part or all of a consignment in good condition for a refund of those items. After 7 days from delivery, refunds are at our discretion. We only send out healthy plants, but all plants are living things which can be affected by all sorts of external factors and they need to be looked after. Any pest or disease problems must be noticed and treated promptly; we are always on hand to give advice. If none has been asked for, we cannot accept responsibility for a deterioration in the plant’s health or indeed its death from neglect. If there is a problem which is demonstrably our fault then there will be no quibble, however at some point the responsibility for the health and condition of the plant passes from me to you. Occasionally I get a request for a refund six months, or in one case eighteen months after the purchase “because the plant has died”, having heard nothing in the interim. In these cases I regret that I will consider it your problem. Payment processing fees levied by Paypal are not recoverable and will not be refunded for no fault cancellations. If just one or two items are missing or incorrect, we may refund or re-send, if several plants are an issue we will check with you to establish your preference.

 My  Plant Passporting scheme number is 129111, registered with the Animal and Plant Health Authority. A Plant Passport is included with every sale; details are printed on the plant labels.

Customer Reviews

What Our Customers Say

Ms K S 1ST May 2020

I have been very pleased with the service and my order.
Your website is a delight to use, clear and informative.
I was able to choose just what was right for my new pond.
Your pricing structure enabled me to get just what I wanted.
The delivery was overnight as described with no problems.
The plants were well packed and in good condition and clearly labelled.
They are now in the pond and recovering quickly and look good.

Ms A D 13th March 2020

Thank you very much for my plants which arrived today. It’s great the way you separated them with their own information cards, too many times people just throw stuff in a box so it’s a case of guessing what’s what.
Great quality plants and a great service will definitely shop again.

Mr P D 17th April 2020

I received your, sorry, my plants in immaculate condition. I have ordered from you before last year and my expectations were more than met. You were recommended to me by a colleague Linda Blakely, and I have not been disappointed.
Thank you

Mrs FA 15.04.19

Dear David,

Sorry to be so slow in letting you know that, incredibly, the plants made it to Highland Scotland last Wednesday, the day after they left Devon! Since then I have been VERY busy planting them all.

They all seemed in excellent condition, a generous amount of plant material, and none of those horrid sharp-edged plastic pots or heavy clay plugs which are so difficult to extract them from. I just hope they enjoy the soil I’ve provided and their new, somewhat chillier, home!

Many thanks.

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