Recently, Anna and I decided to order some fruit trees for our orchard. Some of the more recent additions to the orchard here at my place failed to survive the record summer heat, and there were a couple of varieties Anna was particularly interested in, so after checking the catalogs for ideas, we turned to the internet.
First off, we went to the site of a nursery I had gotten good service from in the past on older apple varieties. To my dismay, we found that the company is in litigation and is no longer allowed to sell trees. Looking further, we found a nursery that could provide the varieties we wanted, and their site looked good. Can't be too careful though, so we looked up the reviews.
About those reviews, wow!! The numbers were pretty scary with almost half being negative or neutral, it didn't sound good. However, in some ways, I am still a curious little kid and the all inspiring question 'WHY' is often my first response. In this case I just had to know what any company that was still in business could be doing that consistently wrong to have that much negative input. Reading the reviews, I soon found that most of the negative was from people who apparently hadn't read the buyer's agreement. Really negative stuff like, orders not arriving on the shipping date, tropical plants not growing in the north, fees deducted from refunds for late order cancellation, and many such issues.
With this in mind, we decided to go ahead and place an order, if for no other reason but to know for sure. With the added bonus of the varieties we were looking for at very reasonable prices, we decided it would be worth the gamble.
Now for our own review of Willis Orchard Co. On February second, I submitted our order for four apple trees, one peach tree and three blackberry plants. I immediately received an email confirming my order and that my debit card had been charged for the amount. On February 17, I received an email from FedEx showing that they had picked up my order from Willis Orchard Co., along with a tracking number and estimated arrival date of February 21. On February 21, the order arrived. Prompt shipping makes me smile since it so rarely happens, but what about quality. Opening the box, I expected reasonable quality trees with decent roots packed in damp sawdust or peat. For the price, I expected un-pruned tops which barely reached the specified height, thus being much younger trees. What I found was really good quality trees, top-pruned to specified height, with some of the best roots I have seen at any price, packed in gel, not sawdust. The berry plants also have excellent roots and green stems, looking like they are just waiting for a few warm nights and sunny days to start growing. The photo above shows the order we received.
Now, I suppose nothing is perfect, so I will say some negative stuff for good measure. Willis Orchard Co. does have a minimum order of $50, which makes it hard if you only need one or two trees. Also, though they have a large variety of tree and plant types, the number of varieties within those categories are somewhat limited. Beyond that, I can't think of anything that could be considered the slightest bit negative, and even these things are quite understandable. Of course, there is no way to be absolutely sure of the fruit at this time, and I can't comment on how well they honor their guarantee since I have no reason to test it.
I will keep you posted on any future developments, but for now at least, I feel comfortable recommending Willis Orchard Co. ( www.willisorchards.com ), based on our experience with this order. Of course you will need to do your own research and make the best informed decision for your situation. Please let us know if you have had experience with this company and what those experiences were.