My preferred wholesaler is J Parkers because they have a variety of plants that suits DE Gardeners down to the ground. It’s a range of plants suited to the British climate, with proven track records of growing well for the average gardener and with a very easy to use website. In particular, they do not require you to hold an account in order to purchase wholesale but merely to operate in the spirit of bulk purchasing. This makes them ideal for community groups to club together and buy plants in quantity.
However, be aware there are a few things you need to know about buying wholesale.
- The plants are tiny!
This is because they are generally being sold to nurseries who grow them on and then add their large retail mark up for the privilege. So, if you want an instant garden for no effort walk down the road to the garden centre. However, if you are happy to pot on and nurse your tiny shoot on the windowsill for a month or so in the spring you will be rewarded for saving lots of money for a little effort!
2. You purchase months ahead of delivery.
Because most wholesale is bought by retail, they order months ahead of when they take the stock into their shop. Therefore, you need to be thinking about spring plants in January and ordering in February, likewise thinking about autumn bulbs in July and ordering in August. The plants won’t be delivered until March / April, Sept / Oct but if you order late, you’ll have to top up with retail.
3. Your order may come in separate deliveries.
If you are organising a large community bulk order, you may find that the plants are delivered in several batches over a period of time. You may even find that you choose to order stock that arrives ‘garden ready’ so most definitely a month or so after the bulk of the order. This is all fine but can create some exciting logistical moments as you juggle a few thousand tiny plug plants across 50 orders from your dining table. Don’t panic, and be assured nothing can be as hard as co-ordinating it during the pandemic when no one could help on site and pick-ups had to be booked in timed slots!
4. Go to the right website.
Though it’s the same company there are some important differences to understand here. Wholesale is cheaper because it comes in bigger numbers (e.g. packs of 5 and 18), and prices are shown ex-VAT. All the issues above apply; plants are very small and you have to order a long way in advance.
Retail is more expensive (but still cheaper than your local garden centre), most things are still multi-packs but smaller than wholesale (e.g. packs of 3 and 6) and prices are inc-VAT. They also have some helpful groupings of plants like a set price for a selection of herbs or a bedding mix.
5. Understanding the pricing structure
Just to make it clear as mentioned above, don’t get carried away by prices on wholesale websites which are generally ex-VAT. Unless you can put your order through a registered body that can reclaim the VAT for you, you will have to pay the full VAT price so it’s really important to be clear on that if you are getting the money in advance of buying the plants (which, I suggest, is imperative).
I hope that covers the key points and means you can learn from some of my mistakes! Remember, there are other wholesalers, your local landscaping contractor may be able to help you get deals from wholesale plants to cheap compost and your local garden centre may even be up for discounts on a large purchase so Parkers is just one of many options open to you. Remember to discuss your brilliant achievements in your Facebook so I can share them around the network.