Perennoja postitse ulkomailta

To the English version of this article
Syynä miksi en aiemmin ostanut eläviä kasveja ulkomaista on että olin huolestunut pärjäävätkö  ne päiviä suljetussa paketissa. Erityisesti se ajatus että kasvit olisivat ulkomailta pidemmän ajan kestävän postitoimituksen takia aika kauan matkalla esti minut ostamaan perennoja ulkomailta. Tässä kokemusraportissa  näytän ettei sellaisia huolia tarvitse olla kuten kokemukseni saksalaisen verkkokaupan kanssa todistaa.

Tilasin kaupan verkkosivun kautta www.zauberstaude.de kuusi perennaa ruukuissa (värikkäitä helleboruksia/jouluruusuja, alppiastereita ja erikoisohdakkeen) sekä kymmenenkunta erilaisia säkkäitä kevätkukkasipuleita (tulppaaneja, krookuksia jne.).

Verkkosivusto on saattavilla saksaksi ja englanniksi. Pääosuudet verkkosivuista on englanniksi olemassa (tuotekuvauksia, toimitusehdot ulkomaille, kauppakori, tilausselvitys). Valitettavasti muutamaa osaa sivustoista on ainoastaan saksaksi, kuten selailua tukevaa tuotekategoriakuvaus. Sivuston haku tukee kasvien latinankieliset nimet ja Googlen avulla pystyy kääntää suomenkieliset nimet latinaksi.


Perennoja on tarjolla tuhansia erilaisia ja jokaiselle tuotteelle on näytetty ajantasainen varastotilanne. Verrattuna paikalliselle puutarhakaupalleni – jolla on kuitenkin hyvä valikoima perennoja – tämä kauppa on ihan eri ja parempi luokka. Esimerkiksi paikallispuutarhakaupassa myydään yksi laji helleborusta joka on tavallinen valko-vihreä jouluruusu, kun taas Zauberstaude.de tarjoo 41 erilaisia helleboruslajia kaikenkaltaisissa väreissä ja muodoissa.

Hintaa on yleisesti noin kolmasosaa suomalaisesta hintatasosta ja on jopa halvempi kun suomalaiset alennushinnat. Kukkasipulien hinnat olivat hieman matalampia verrattuna Prismaa, Kodin Ykkönen, Bauhaus etc. ja valikoima oli selkeästi parempi. Yritä saada vaikka syksyllä kukkivia krookuksia Suomessa kaupoissa. Mielestäni sipulien laatu oli parempi kun paikallisten kauppojen.

Postitoimitusmaksu Suomeen oli tilauksessani €22,50, rahaa jonka säästin helposti halvoilla perennahinnoilla.

Sivuston postitoimitushinnasto löytyy tästä.

Maksuvälineeksi kelpaa luottokortti PayPal maksulla joka toimi odotuksien mukaan.

Paketin lähetys: Tilasin syyskuun alussa ja, kun olin tilannut myös kukkasipuleja, hyväksyin tilauksen yhteydessä että tilaus lähetetään syyskuun lopussa (juuri kukkasipulien istutuskauden alussa). En siis tiedä miten nopeasti tilaus luovutetaan postille. Saksankielisillä arvostelusivustoilla sanotaan että tavarat saapuvat yleensä kolme työpäivää tilauksen jälkeen. Heti tilauksen jälkeen sain tilausvahvistuksen s-postitse, ja odotukseni mukaan lähetys lähti syyskuun lopussa ja sain silloin englanninkielisen tiedotusviestin.

Sain lähetysseurantalinkin ja pystyin seuraamaan lähetyksen (saksankielinen s-posti kuljetusfirmalta, klika “Sendungsverfolgung”-linkkiin):

zauberstaude-order-tracking

Lähetys saapui kuuden kalenteripäivien jälkeen, yksi viikonloppu laskettu mukaan. Turusta pääkaupunkiseudulle kesti melkein eniten aikaa.

Pakkaus: Vasta saapunut paketti näkyy seuraavassa kuvassa:

zauberstaude-package1

Kun avasin paketin, kaikki oli laitettu ison muovipussin sisään joten kosteus säilyy ja pahvi pysyy kuivana:

zauberstaude-package2 zauberstaude-package3 zauberstaude-package4

Kukkasipulit löytyivät päällimmäisenä ja sen alla löytyivät perennat ruukuissa – jokainen huolellisesti pakattu sanomalehteen ja kaikki ruukut olivat laitettu pakettiin varovasti yhteen joten varret ja lehdet ei kärsisi kuljetuksen aikana.

zauberstaude-package5  zauberstaude-plants1

Otin varovasti perennat paperipakkauksistaan. Kaikilla kasveilla oli vahva ja hyväkuntoinen juuristo ja multa oli kostea. Kuten odottaisinkin syksyllä, lehdet ja varret olivat parhaan hetken jo nähneet – mutta kaikki olivat ehjiä. Lyhyesti sanoen olin saanut laadukkaita perennoja jotka todennäköisesti juurtuvat hyvin ja suorittavat vielä vuosia puutarhassani.

zauberstaude-plants2

Kukkasipulit  olivat pakattu joko tavallisissa ilman läpäisevissä  muovipusseissa joihin oli tavallinen tuotekuvaus kiinnitetty, tai ruskeassa paperipussissa johon oli kirjoitettu kukansipulin nimi. Sipulit olivat laadukkaita eikä missään ollut hometta. Perennojen mullan kosteus ei vaikuttanut lainkaan sipuleihin.

zauberstaude-bulbs1

Yhteenvetona voin sanoa että zauberstaude.de tietää miten pakataan ja postitetaan kasveja. Riittävänkokoisille tilauksille (ehkä 15+ keskihintaisia perennoja?) zauberstaude.de on suomalaisia kauppoja halvempi ja valikoima on helposti kymmenenkertainen. Tämä laajentaa hurjasti mitkä kasveja voin kasvata puutarhassani.

En ole (vielä) kokeillut muita saksalaisia verkkokauppoja ostaakseni kasveja, mutta tutkin noin kymmenen: yksikään näistä tarjoa englanninkielisen verkkosivuston eikä tarjoa kuljetuksen hinta-arvion Suomeen ilman että olisin ensin s-postitse tai puhelimitse yhteydessä näihin. Olen tilannut joiltain Iso-Britannian verkkokaupoilta ja yritin toisilta, mutta valitettavasti lähes kaikki isot Iso-Britannian perennaverkkokaupat eivät toimita eläviä kasveja Iso-Britannian ulkopuolelle.

Parhaan tuloksen postitse toimitetuille kasveille tekisin tilauksen kasvikauden alkuun tai loppuun (keväällä tai syksyllä). Näin todennäköisemmin kasvit lähtevät kasvuun omalla pihalla kun mahdollinen kuljetuksen tai pakkauksen haita vaikuttaa vähemmän kasveille. Tarkastaisin sääennustuksen ennen tilauksen tekoa ja välttäisin kuljetuksia  kovana pakkasaikana kunhan en tiedä pidetäänkö pakettia lämpöisenä koko kuljetuksen aikana.

Kuten aina kasvien kanssa, kyseessä ei ole miten ne kukkivat kaupan hyllyssä, mutta miten kasvit suorittavat pihoillamme.

Dahlia dreams

dahlia-white-star
Dahlia ‘White Star’

Last year about this time, after reading about them in Carol Klein’s book Grow Your Own Garden I had made up my mind: I would grow dahlias for the first time. I dug out the BBC Gardeners World  issue from March 2011 that had a long feature on dahlias and where a number of lovely dahlia collections from Sarah Raven were advertised. This got me to www.sarahraven.co.uk were I instantly got hooked on their dahlia colour collections. I settled for a purple collection and a black-and-white collection, 7 tubers in total. Ordering was not easy, as they would not deliver outside the UK (in an email exchange they explained that they are yet a small operation and therefore unable to deliver abroad, never mind). As my wife was visiting a friend in England in March, I had them delivered to said friend and we got those tubers to Finland with little trouble (and reasonable UK postage fee).

dahlia-sam-hopkins
Dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’

I did start the tubers end of March and started taking cuttings as fast as they appeared. Although some cuttings failed, I managed to get about 30 cuttings through, plus the original tubers leaving me with about 40 dahlias! They took their precious time flowering, but from the moment when the first flowers opened in August through to mid-October when I dug up the tubers for winter storage they changed our garden totally.

dahlia-hillcrest-royal
Dahlia ‘Hillcrest Royal’

I vividly remember the colour, vigour and smell of the cuttings and leaves and those ever-lasting  flowers. I have soundly forgotten all the stress and worrying about where to squeeze in the plants (window sills full already), hardening them off, keeping them in the sun and well-watered, pinching out shoots for a good branch framework and fighting off snails.

dahlia-ambition
Dahlia ‘Ambition’

Now I have about 30 tubers awaiting to be awoken, and I wonder how many cuttings I do dare take this year… apparently less is more, so they say. Well, we shall see.

dahlia-thomas-edison
Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’

dahlia-bishop-of-oxford
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Oxford’

Designing the garden – step 3: you can get it if you really want it

With the garden design completed, all that was left was to implement the design…

It is one thing to see something that you like in a magazine, book or the internet, and another thing to find a place where you can get it (never mind the price). This is probably were the professional garden designers beat us amateurs, because they will only design with materials that they know they can source, and they probably know how to plan to a budget. This is were for us reality kicked in and we found out the hard way what is the done thing in Finland. Quite frequently in books, but also in magazines we found details highlighted that you cannot get from a Finnish retailer. But I also learned that you can get it, if you really want it, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive.

For the decking, I quickly ruled out conifer wood, as I did not want chemically treated material, I had been shown poor longevity of thermo-treated conifer decking by the neighbour of my in-laws and I did not fancy Siberian larch (larix sibirica) that does not need treatment. I also had bad experience with knotholes and splinters in deckings made from conifer wood. This is no easy decision, as Finland is a large producer of conifer decking wood with several companies specialised on thermo-treatment exporting worldwide. In effect this means, that all people I know happily buy Finnish conifer decking wood and look no further. Decking made from imported wood – not the done thing. I also ruled out the plastic-wood mix boards and fully synthetic boards on offer, as I do not like their unnatural look and feel. In the internet I came across thermo-treated hardwood decking board and started to trace down manufacturers. I ended up buying thermo-ash from www.brenstol.ee directly from the factory in Estonia – they delivered to my door (very certainly not the commonly done thing).

brenstol-thermo-ash
Thermo-ash decking after being laid, untreated. 

For the paving, we got slates from Orivesi in Finland, this is actually standard stuff here. For edging we got black granite originating from China and for some ornamental paving we got also white dotted granite from Finland. There are plenty of retailers for standard pavings such as slate and granite cobbles here, we bought from Kivikopla. However, I noticed that the mainstream here must be man-made concrete paving stones, as the usual retailer caters a far larger selection of those than natural stone products. There is one exception, www.nyx.fi, which back in 2009/10 did have an unbelievable selection of stock in stone and rock of all kind imaginable. Unfortunately, they were forced to close shop in Espoo for what I understand was a local political plot, and they continue only as a tiny outlet much further out from were I live. I have not visited them since close-down sales.

We did not need to order additional earth, as we would reuse the earth from the paved areas and terrace area, I calculated at the time 4-5 cubic meters.

Trees we bought all from our local nursery. We took our time for selecting the apple tree and the tree for the terrace, the other trees we selected in the nursery. Today, with my increased knowledge, I would select all trees prior to visiting a nursery or garden center, researching the candidates thoroughly, but as far as I can tell, no damage was done. We did take care to select slow-growing trees though, and I hope we wan’t be in deep shade twenty years from now.

The old lawn was not of too great quality and I decided to dig it under and get roll-out lawn for the new patch, as there is a producer just down the road.

I tracked down a local lorry company that would deliver gravel for foundations of the path and paved area by the lorry-load. The stone ash to settle the paving into I would buy from the same place where I bought the slate. As I would be doing some height adjustments to the garden, I would also need some small gravel to fill up the drainage next to the walls of the house to meet the new level of the bedding.

Sheet for separating gravel and stone-ash, root-blocking fabric and permeable weed-blocking sheet I got from a DIY store. Also tools, screws and other small metal bits I found in local DIY stores easily.

To find suppliers of specific materials I can recommend the following approaches:

  • Check the local DIY stores, garden centers and nurseries. Also check the gardening and tools sections of large supermarkets.
  • Check yellow pages to find less-known local suppliers of specific materials
  • Talk to friends and neighbours, they might know about unique sources (someone willing to part with an excess stockpile, retired craftsmen, the small shop down the road that does not advertise).
  • Check the classified sections of local newspapers. A lot of business is seasonal, therefore small companies spend their advertising budget in the season, here in Finland that is spring and summer. Sales advertisements for gardening supplies are usually out from late summer to autumn.
  • Gardening and building magazines have references in articles, are full of advertisements and may have a classified section that cater for niche markets, usually in the end of the magazine. Some books have also references, but they are often out of date.
  • Attend gardening and building fairs and exhibitions. There you can discover and meet suppliers and see samples. Small products are also sold there. Take the program booklet with you, it contains a list of exhibitors that is a great source for suppliers, also for stuff you were not looking for when attending the event. The website of the fair might also contain a list of exhibitors.
  • Find the name of the manufacturer and find the website. Some manufacturers sell directly from their website, others have a list of retailers that sell their products. They always will have contact information, I have more then once emailed or called manufacturers and found a way to buy their products that was not published on their website. Particularly if manufacturers are abroad and focused mainly on local markets, creativity is needed to find someone willing to take the trouble of shipping overseas. I also have had need to be very creative to sort out a way for payments, as some small companies do not take credit card payments.
  • Try to find the product on www.amazon.co.uk. Amazon sells and distributes goods for a network of shops and manufacturers, and ships such goods for free to nordic countries when ordering for £25 or more. However, Amazon also advertises goods from shops that are sold and distributed by the shops themselves. In those circumstances, shipping will not be free. It is possible to filter out products for which shipping is not free. I also noticed that Amazon sells different goods from different countries, also prices are different. That is easily explained: companies try to reach a certain market through Amazon, so they hook up to a certain Amazon country site. Therefore, when looking for example for goods from a German manufacturer, amazon.de might have a better selection and better prices than the UK site, although shipping is not free to Finland. I have also resorted to having goods shipped to relatives in Germany when they are coming over for a visit. The relatives can bring the goods and I save the shipping costs.
  • Use Google search and price comparison sites to find suppliers. This works well for technical items, but I find it rather tedious to find anything this way for manual items.
  • Use Google image search with the product name. Sometimes the images originate from a web shop or manufacturer.
  • Find forums and blogs specialising in the area. People might be able to advise where to buy or how to build things yourself.

Now it was time to plan each project in detail.

Ordering plants from Germany – Zauberstaude.de

Artiklan suomenkieliselle versiolle

The one thing that has stopped me previously from ordering live plants from the internet was that I was afraid that they would not fare well being for days in a package. Particularly the idea ordering from abroad with the longer delivery times made me uncomfortable. The following review of ordering plants with postal delivery from an online shop in Germany shows that there is no need to be too concerned.

I ordered via their website http://www.zauberstaude.de, ordering six potted perennials (coloured helleborus, aster alpinum and a specific eryngium) and about ten different bags of spring bulbs (tulips, crocuses etc.).

The website is available in German and English. The key elements of the website are available in English (product descriptions, terms and conditions for delivery abroad, shopping cart, check-out), although some parts, for example the category names for browsing plants are not translated. The site supports searching for latin plant names, Google will help you to translate the names you know into latin. The shopping cart will keep the plants you select only for as long as the session does not time out (it will not remember your selected plants until next evening, that is…). There is also a notepad feature that may help keeping track of potential buys avoiding the loss of the shopping cart, but I have not used it.

A huge list of perennials are on offer and an indicator whether the plant is in stock for each product. Compared to my local nursery, which has a good selection of perennials, this site plays in a different league all-together. For example, my nursery offers one sort of helleborus, the usual greenish-white, Zauberstaude.de offers 41  different kind of helleborus in all sorts of colours, size and shape.

The price is usually a third of the Finnish price level, beating the Finnish prices even during autumn sales. Bulbs where slightly cheaper compared to local supermarket prices for Dutch bulbs, zauberstaude.de has clearly more choice. For example, try to get autumn-flowering crocuses anywhere in Finland. The quality of the bulbs is in my experience better than that of bulbs from the local supermarkets.

The postage fee to Finland for my order amounted to €22,50 – money easily saved from the cheap prices of the plants. The site clearly states the international postage fees here.

The site accepts international credit cards via PayPal payments, all went as expected.

Shipment: I posted my order early in September, and as I had ordered bulbs, and the site had clearly stated that bulbs will be sent out end of September, I do not know how quickly orders are fulfilled. On German review sites I have read that the goods arrive in Germany usually three working days after posting the order. Directly after ordering I received an order confirmation, and as expected, my order was sent out end of September and I got an email in English to notify me.

I was emailed a tracking reference link and was able to track the shipment (email in German, click on the “Sendungsverfolgung” link):

zauberstaude-order-tracking

I received the package after it had been six days in the post, including one weekend.

Packaging: When I received the package, it looked like this:

zauberstaude-package1

And when I opened it, all was wrapped in a large plastic bag to retain the moisture and to keep the cardboard dry:

zauberstaude-package2 zauberstaude-package3 zauberstaude-package4

The bulb packages were placed on top, and the potted plants were at the bottom, each carefully wrapped in newspaper and carefully arranged to ensure the stems and leaves are not damaged during transport.

zauberstaude-package5  zauberstaude-plants1

I carefully unwrapped the newspaper from the potted plants. All plants had well developed rootballs but where not pot-bound and the compost and roots where moist. As is to be expected in autumn, leaves and stems where past their peak, but all stems and leaves were undamaged. In summary, I unpacked quality perennials that are very likely to establish well and perform in years to come.

zauberstaude-plants2

The bulbs were packed either in the usual airy plastic bags with shiny card label or in brown paper bags, carefully hand-labelled. None of them were mouldy, all in all good quality. The moisture of the potted plants did not effect the bulbs at all.

zauberstaude-bulbs1

In summary I can say that zauberstaude.de knows how to pack and ship their plants. For large enough offers (15+ mid-priced perennials?) zauberstaude.de is cheaper than buying locally in Finland and the choice is easily ten-fold massively extending my choice what to grow in my garden.

I have not tried other German websites (yet) for ordering plants, but I have researched about ten, none of which has an English language web-site and none of which provides quotes for shipment to Finland without contacting them first. I have ordered from some UK web-sites and tried from others, alas, most of the main players do not deliver living plants outside the UK.

For best results with plants delivered by post, it is probably best to order plants before or after the main growing season (that is early spring or autumn) so that whatever happens due to packaging and transport is not getting in the way of the plant establishing in the garden. I would check the weather forecast, however, to avoid the shipment going through -10°C and colder, you never know whether the package is kept warm by the transport companies.

As always with plants, it is not about how they flower on the shelf in the shop, but how they will perform over time in our gardens.