Gardeners love to say that gardening is a thrifty way to beautify your landscape, raise a lot of your family’s food, get plenty of exercise and commune with nature — all at the same time. But, despite our love of economy, some of us know in our hearts that we succumb to pretty plants in the nursery like some people cave in to pretty shoes.
I’m in the midst of landscaping a steep hillside to keep my husband from having to mow it. After foraging among the discount centers for good deals on junipers, yews and boxwoods, I head to a local independent nursery that’s known for its high-quality plants. They love to see me coming, because they know I’m a sucker for interesting specimens. An hour later, my collection is increased and my bank balance is decreased.
Still, I’m all about saving money on the nitty-gritty: I save seed, take cuttings, divide plants, convert plastic food and beverage containers into seed beds and container plants. And I love checking in at Compost Confidential to see how Joe Lamp’l is progressing with his “Quest for a $25 Victory Garden.” Joe, a nationally known lecturer and TV personality, has laid his garden out for all the world to see. His biggest single expenditure to date has been $7 for seed-starting mix; he got people on Twitter and Facebook to send him free seed. A month ago, after a prolonged period of rain that put the damper on the garden’s (and his tomato seedlings’) progress, he splurged ($5) on two large tomato transplants. It was a hard decision, he said, but one based on reality: the growing conditions were awful, and he needed to start producing food soon.
Which just goes to show you, a large pretty plant can be a hard thing to pass up.