Last year I announced on my website a new introduction that I thought might be promising which is Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’. I then posted a follow-up update when I received an email from Shannon Springer who is the Public Relations & Marketing Specialist for Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs that explained to me: “It is only now available to growers and won’t be available at U.S. retail until spring 2014 though there will be a limited quantity available through Better Homes and Gardens next year”. It turns out that White Flower Farm will be the company providing C. ‘Sweet Summer Love’ this year for Better Homes and Gardens.
I decided to place an order for one earlier this week. There are a few reasons I am writing about my purchase. One is to give others a heads up to its availability. Another is to prepare any unsuspecting gardener for possible sticker shock because if you should decide to purchase one of their one-quart plants it will cost $40.90 which breaks down to $25.95 for the clematis plus $14.95 for standard shipping. The White Flower Farm representative originally quoted me $55.90 ($25.95 for the clematis plus $29.95 for express shipping possibly because I live in CA), but as you see from the above email confirmation receipt, they reduced the shipping charge to the standard rate after I questioned the original total. I guess you could say I was a bit stunned when I realized the shipping was going to exceed the price of the plant. So, I’m happy I did not end up having to pay an additional $11.00 for the express shipping.
Finally, although you may not be annoyed unless you live in USDA Zones 10 and 11, I was told by the White Flower Farm representative that “it would not grow in my zone”. I told her that was fine and I still wanted it. At that point she informed me that “it would not be covered by their warranty”. Living where I do I guess maybe I’m not one of their normal clematis customers, but I have been willing to take chances and trial clematis that are considered not suitable for my garden (USDA Zone 10a). This means I was not worried about their warranty as that it is part of the risk I am personally willing to take when growing my favorite genus. And yes, I have had casualties, but that is how I have learned which ones will grow here and no, I did not ask for any refunds when one of them passed away. If I had been listening to the zoning advice given by White Flower Farm and others, I would have never been able to continue my clematis odyssey over these last 19 years. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am that I ignored all the naysayers and planted my beautiful clematis anyway.
I feel it is a sad mistake (O.K., a royal offense worthy of a beheading) that White Flower Farm cannot follow the zoning recommendation suggested by the wholesale growers Spring Meadow Nursery (see Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’) which is USDA Zones 4-11. The Clematis Queen would like to once again thank Spring Meadow Nursery as well as award them knighthood for their progressive zoning of this clematis.