The nursery was renowned for its beautiful catalogs. The catalogs are testaments of Taber's dedication to quality; he firmly believed that “a quality product was paramount and that pleasing customers with both stock and service were the surest way to gain new customers and to keep them.” 1 The National Nurseryman, for example, often remarks upon the nursery’s excellent catalogs: “[Taber’s] last annual catalog would be a credit to any state. It represents the standard of new and old varieties which are now most in demand." 2 The J. Horace McFarland Company, run by J. Horace McFarland, “a pioneer of horticultural photography,” created the nursery’s catalogs. 3 While advertising in The National Nurseryman, the company advertised its catalog business using the cover design of the Glen Saint Mary Nurseries Company’s 1908 catalog. McFarland writes that Taber had been their loyal customer for twelve years and was getting “the worth of his money” from them. 4
In addition to the catalogs’ quality, Taber boasted about the excellence of the products themselves. Every catalog contains some claim about the nursery’s dedication to distinction: Taber writes in the introduction to the 1903 catalog that the nursery seeks to “produce stock that shall prove a profitable investment to the planter. We have always placed quality ahead of quantity.” In the catalog from 1910, Taber guarantees “complete satisfaction,” and writes that those in the company are “as jealous of [their] reputation along these lines as of [their] personal honor or financial standing.” 5 The 1912 catalog continues in a similar vein: “The best quality obtainable has been our effort ever since we entered the nursery business.” 6 To ensure such quality, Taber assures his readers that “[e]ach department of our business is in charge of a specialist in his line, who has no other interest than to grow and ship the strongest possible trees.” 7 In the 1913 catalog, Taber boasts that “we occupy the position of being the largest producers of Citrus nursery stock in the world, and our stock of trees, in this and all other lines we handle, is… well up to the usual Glen Saint Mary standard, a standard which has been adopted as representing the best that can be produced.” 8 Such consistently exemplary products caused the nursery’s reputation and customer base to grow until the nursery was supplying plants to national and international customers.
During the season of 1931-32, the nursery changed its mode of advertisement. Rather than issue one comprehensive catalog, it instead issued five catalogs: Roses, Azaleas and Camellias, Ornamentals, Fruits and Nuts, and Citrus Fruits. Despite the economic crisis brought about by the Great Depression, the nursery continued to meet the needs of customers and remained able to distribute five separate catalogs to best advertise its stock. 9
- Quotation from “The Search for the Real George Lindley Taber and the Orchid Azalea" by William C. Miller III, pp. 3.
- Quotation from “George L. Taber” in The National Nurseryman.
- Quotation from “Nursery and Seed Catalogs: Glen Saint Mary Nurseries.”
- Quotation from an advertisement in The National Nurseryman by the J. Horace McFarland Company.
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- Quotation from the 1912 catalog, pp. 2.
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- 1931-32 season catalog, pp. 2.