Help for Hard to Find Plants and Trees - Eshelman Mill Gardens
Hard to Find Plants and Trees

Looking for that hard to find tree or plant selection that no one can find?

Talk to us in the winter months about special order items. There is almost nothing we cannot find if we have time to contact our suppliers. We can bring in hard to find fruit trees, flowering tree specimens, even large items that “can’t be found.”

A Caution About Looking for Plants Online

The internet has changed so much about the way we garden and landscape. When I started landscaping in 1980, we had to bring glossy pictures to a client’s house to show them the plants we were suggesting for the landscape design. (Something we still do.) Now, it usually doesn’t work like that. Three weeks ago, a client looked at a plant on their phone while we were in the front yard talking, and they decided they loved it.

These days, people call us with plant ideas because they can browse for hours until they find something they like. And almost every project now is already “seen” before it starts because folks look up a thousand pictures of every plant before we even get there. This is great!

Here’s the caution. If you are looking online for plant material, notice a couple of things about what you’re looking at.

Hardiness Zones

The internet shrinks our world very quickly and not all plants thrive in all zones. Be aware that the U.S. is divided into plant zones in order to help you plant things that are hardy for the zone you live in. And local nurseries or big box stores have already selected plants for your zone. But when looking online, you have to do the selecting.

Hardiness Zone Lancaster

You can look this up online easy enough, but Lancaster County is generally in Hardiness Zones 6 and 7. Pennsylvania, as a whole, is usually considered to be between Zones 5 and 7. Remember that elevation and topography alter these ratings.

We have had clients fall in love with a plant that they found online, only to have us explain to them that the plant they want won’t thrive in their yard.


Also, plants are like every other commodity. When a new hybrid is developed (think double-blooming cherry trees or double-blooming azaleas or disease resistant flowers, etc.) the growers have spent years in development and now they have a product to get to market. They advertise with articles and sales, etc.

But, in the initial rollout, the plant may not be readily available in all areas. You may not be able to find the plant you’re looking for right away. This problem usually goes away in time, but just keep this in mind as you shop.


Every gardener knows about knock-out roses and they are in every garden center. But I remember the first time I ever used them in a landscape in the early ’90s. (They were not even the “true” knock-out roses of today, but a precursor. True knock-out roses didn’t come out until the early 2000s.) They were new and I spent an hour trying to explain to the client why “these are not our parents’ rose bushes” that bloom ten days in July, and need tons of care and special soil.

After we used them a few times, people began to request them, but they weren’t available everywhere in the northeast corridor for a few years. Be aware of the rule of supply and demand when you shop online for plants. Make sure, if it’s a new hybrid, that it’s available in your area.

Plant Needs

Lastly, be sure that the plants you’re going to choose work in your landscape. Sun-loving plants look great in photos, but won’t thrive if your garden is shady. And not all trees will be happy if you have a yard that gets constant wind or has very wet soil. There are many other examples, but you get the idea.

Shade Garden
Does the plant need sun or shade?

Customer Stories

Two years ago, a client asked if we could find a specific, large-sized evergreen tree that had to fit in a very mature landscape to replace a dead one that had been installed 20 years prior. It took some time, but one of our nursery suppliers found one. It was growing in one of their fields. They sent us pictures so we could be sure. It was perfect. We had it dug up, wrapped, and trucked in. We removed the dead tree and the stump on the homeowner’s property. Then we amended the soil as needed to plant a tree in the exact spot where the old one was removed. We replaced it with the new one, and everything looked exactly like the client wanted. It looked like nothing had ever been removed! And, most importantly, our client was delighted!

This year, we needed a specified tree that a client wanted because they had seen it online. No one in this area had one. We found one, and drove three hours to get it. We installed it for our client and they are very pleased. We can’t wait till they see it in bloom next spring!

The next time you’re looking for a hard to find plant, flower or tree, give us a call at (717) 951-5950. We’ll be glad to help.

  • Rich (Owner)
Help for Hard to Find Plants and Trees
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