I learned about "Free Trees and Plants" from an article in our local newspaper a while back. According to their website, they locate and accept surplus plants from growers, then have sheltered workshop participants (disabled adults) sort and package them for shipment to anyone who will pay the $7.95 shipping charge.
Well, for $7.95, I figured, you can't go wrong. I wasted four times that much the last time I bought tickets to a Carolina football game (we lost something like 49-3) so why not give it a try? If it's legit, what a good idea! Save plants and give people some honest work.
So I ordered a couple of chokecherries (prunus virginia) and several varieties of viburnum. I've been working on the idea of creating a mixed border of native plants attractive to birds--an area that can get sort of wild and untamed. A place where my cat can pretend he's a jungle tiger. ( I know, cats should be in the house away from songbirds, but Andy pees on the walls...)
I got my chokecherries today, well-packaged and in good condition as far as I can tell. They're small, about a foot tall (as advertised) and with good root systems. I planted them in good dirt, so we'll see how they do.
This is my second experience with mail order plants. The ones I bought on Ebay a while back are thriving, except for a sweetshrub, which hasn't leafed out yet. Overall, I've been happy with my purchases and will continue to browse the 'Net for plants that I can't find at my local nurseries. A lot of people are leery about buying plants by mail, but I think you're generally ok if you use common sense. Do a test order for a small amount of money and if you like what you get, reward the seller with repeat business.