Are you waiting for Spring Shipping?

Ah, Winter in Canada.

It's cold (but not as cold as we've seen before). It's unpredictable (witness the lack of cold) It feels endless. And, most important for the purpose of this article, it messes with shipping your bonsai orders.

When buying a bonsai you are offered a number of shipping choices, none of them are cheap. First a few general comments on shipping costs:

1- Shipping in Canada is far more expensive than shipping in the USA. We have few people, spread out over a larger area and it shows in our shipping costs.

2- Bonsai trees need careful packing and packing materials are not free. Most trees need plastic wrap, two boxes (one to protect the pot) and starch based peanuts. On average, my cost for packing materials is between $5-$8 dollars per tree depending on the size of the box. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, so I'll share an amusing bit of irony with you. The packing peanuts are super bulky and can't be shipped via a regular courier. So it costs a fortune to ship them to me and almost doubles the cost of packing materials and I've found that unless I use the double boxes and a big enough box to allow for lots of protection with the peanuts, pots start arriving broken. And just in case you're wondering - No. The courier companies do not compensate for broken pots. So, not only does the pot need replacement we also have to pay the same courier company to reship the new pot. (Makes me nuts!)

3- Courier companies charge by either the size or the weight of the box- which ever is bigger. (Figures, eh?)

If you select ground transport (the lower prices) then please be mindful that while it might be lovely where you are, your tree has to travel by truck from Toronto. If you're in BC, don't think about the daytime temperature in Vancouver, instead look at the nighttime temperatures in Nipigon (ON), Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary - cause your trees will spend 4 days in a truck travelling this route.

If you're in the Maritimes, again the trip is by truck from Toronto. Look at Kingston, Montreal, Quebec City. Usual transport by truck is at least two-three days to a major urban centre plus one more day if your destination is a little smaller. And I've also found your weather in the Maritimes does not follow the same pattern as the rest of the country. But, I guess you know that already!

Trees going west of Ontario and east of Quebec must travel by air if they ship in the winter- So if you have ordered ground, please be prepared to wait until the spring. I operate on the assumption that air cargo shipping is more likely to leave Pearson Airport in Toronto at night and because the bonsai trees travel with the regular cargo (at least the hold is heated) there is always a chance that the trees could sit on the tarmac for over an hour in the wee hours. So unless the night low temperature is going to be warmer than say 2 below C I can't risk the trees shipping out that night - even though most will go with a heat pack. And then there is the issue of the temperature on the receiving end.

Finally, there is the tree itself because some are hardier than others.
Junipers are the hardiest but that doesn't mean I can let them freeze, since they have all been greenhouse grown. Elms are reasonably resiliant as well. At the other end of the specturm we have Brazilian Raintrees and Black Olives which hate, hate, hate the cold and Mini Jades that literally turn to mush if the frost gets them. And not all trees will tolerate heat paks either. I'm still working out ways to protect the trees from the heat packs.

So if you're wondering why I haven't shipped your bonsai, I hope this little explanation has helped you to understand. I'm guessing it hasn't exactly been a riveting read!