Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nursery season and impulse buying
Fence plants

It may be true that many a nurseryman or woman knows me, possibly even by name. They may also note my habit of wandering around, reading all the labels then not buying anything.

I can't help going but I do try really hard not to buy anything. Many women have the reputation of being compulsive book shoppers (you thought I was going to name some clothing item didn't you?) but I have a problem with plants. What stops me is that many of the best deals are for plants that I can't in good conscience fork over cash for. A neighbour or gardening friend is bound to have it in abundance. All I need to do is ask.

Either that or it is painfully easy and significantly cheaper to start it by seed. And I am not forgetting about growth medium (sterilize regular dirt or compost in the oven), pots (yoghurt containers), or light (I do have florescent bulbs but my solanums - tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, ground cherries etc... - get priority). Many plants can and prefer to be direct seeded.

Free over the fence

1. ground covers - these include periwinkle, bugleweed, creeping jenny (highly invasive), barren strawberry, mother of thyme etc...
2. hostas - I have been offered these numerous times when I've shown appreciation of their massive plants.
3. any member of the mint family - spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, pennyroyal, bergamont/monarda, oregano
4. yarrow (come to my house for some please)
5. iris
6. daylily
7. bell flower, especially the creeping kind
8. violets (plenty out back for all who are interested and I am sure that I can keep up with demand)
9. lilac - suckers will grow faster than you think
10. lamb's ear
11. rhubarb
12. raspberry / blackberry etc...
13. ox-eye daisy - the weed is just as pretty as the cultivated variety, really
14. chinese lantern / physalia
15. many ornamental grasses with spreading rhisomes like ribbon grass
16. lupin - at least in some yards, like mine, there's little stopping it

I could go on, but you get the idea. If it doesn't have some fancy varigation (like that gorgeous green-white-pink varigated jacob's ladder with the clear blue flowers, be still my heart) then it is probably owned in abundance by someone you know.

Not only that but many bushes easily air layer. In my yard this includes:

1. Euonymus
2. Currant - including the alpine currant hedge
3. forthysia
4. culinary thyme

That's not to mention the self-seeding annuals. Probably someone down the block is right now is cursing a flower that you covet because of its over-exhubarant reproduction. They are furiously pulling up hundreds of seedlings which could have been transplanted into your yard to continue the cycle of amazement at the germination rate of just one stray cosmos/black eyed susan/nigella/etc...

If you live a couple fences down from me, feel free to stop by and stare too long at a plant you are interested in. Chances are, I'll give you a piece so you can save your money for a good shovel (or that fantastic varigated jacob's ladder... sigh).

Impulse buying on site:

Sometimes, it is not the plant so much as the new garden bed that you have need to fill. This is one of the most common problems I have. There is a naked spot in the garden and there are rows upon rows of pretty plants giving me that orphaned puppy look. Therefore I have devised a native plant list to take with me. It is surprising what I have discovered that I grow in my garden which is native. Also there are a number of native plants species or cultivars available that the local wildlife would really appreciate.

You may be thinking 'She's not preaching about native plants again! They're soo dull.' But check out the list of plants I either already have that are native or would like to get:

Pearly everylasting
Jewelweed or touch-me-not (cultivar)
Bergamont, red and pink (cultivar)
Bleeding heart
Mexican hat / prairie coneflower
Helen's tears (cultivar)
Geranium (cultivar?)
Common Bellflower
Foamflower (cultivar)
Anemome (cultivar)
False sunflower
Columbine (cultivar)
Sweet Cicely
Evening primrose
switchgrass / panic grass
spotted deadnettle
Wild rose (cultivar)
Buttefly weed
Blue phlox
Obedient Plant
Black-eyed susan
Dutchman's breeches
Bird Cherry
Trout Lily
Coreopsis (cultivar)

I have to thank an early plantcycle event for most of the above plants.. All he said at the time was that they did very well in his garden, were vigorous and very pretty. He was right!

Fletcher's Wildlife Garden has lots of information on native plants they use in their own landscaping. If I see that the plant is on my 'okay' list then I feel better about purchasing it but if not then I remind myself to wait until their annual native plant sale which this year is on June the 2nd.

(They also have lots of good information on how to propogate these plants. I feel it necessary to include that you should always check to make sure that a native plant is not endangered before collecting, that it is best to collect only a small percentage of the seed from a number of plants rather than all from one and if the plant must be propogated vegetatively be careful not to hurt the parent plant. Okay, done, now go turn your backyards into cultivated wilderness!)


Gardening with native plant links
basic plant division


Kate said...

That's a wonderful list of native plants ... there's always a spot in the garden that we need to fill.

Is your spaceship down yet? I love seeing your seedlings all growing with great gusto ...

Patrick said...

I only grow a few flowers, and mostly I borrow garden space from friends because I don't have much of my own. Otherwise, I would plant a garden exactly like this.

Michelle said...

Great info, and great food for thought! Happy GTS! :)