Cheers and jeers for plant mailers

A Which? study released in late June of 25 varieties of plants
bought from direct sellers found that only six lived up to the
claims made in the marketing material. Worryingly, five were
“nothing like their descriptions”, stated the report.

Among the plants singled out by Which? was the Hibiscus tricolour
from Bakker, which the report said failed to live up to the
merchant’s claims of three flowering varieties. Which? did
commend Bakker’s Red Cat’s Tail as well as Thompson & Morgan’s
Lady Boothby for performing as described.

Paul Hansord, managing director of Thompson & Morgan’s young
plants business, told Catalogue e-business that he
understands why gardening businesses can get things wrong:
“Nature does not produce uniform products, even from week
to week.” Thompson & Morgan spends time with plant breeders
and carries out “extensive trials at our Ipswich head
office, so that we can actually see the varieties growing just by
walking out of our offices.”

A Bakker spokesperson said that feedback from its customers
“is almost exclusively positive” and that products
not matching their descriptions are “by far the
exception”. She acknowledged that there will always be a
percentage of plants that do not perform to expectation because
“nature does not always conform”, adding that Which?
was right to suggest that dissatisfied customers should ask for a


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