Posted by: gisspar | April 25, 2009

This is not urban homesteading

So the local arboretum has a plant sale every spring where you can get native or at least naturalized plants. They’re usually types that are hard to find, hard to start or are just popular (like herbs, since it’s a fund-raising event). I’ve gone the past three years because they’re pretty cheap ($2.50 for a 3in pot), the selection includes plants that are pretty hardy for the area and, really, I’m not that impatient for my garden to fill in. Also, for that price, I don’t mind trying new things out — $2.50 is pretty cheap entertainment. So most of my garden came from this sale.

The first year I bought hostas, Astilbes, Amsonias, dwarf indigos,and a couple of Kerria japonica. The kerrias have yet to be planted (did I mention that 3in pots have tiny little plants in them?), but I’m hoping they’ll be in the ground by next weekend. The second year, I had a better idea of the garden I wanted to put it, so I went back with a copy of the plant list all marked up, ready to go. I wound up with more hostas, a bunch of catmint (that stuff is great), a bunch of herbs, some hardy geraniums, some salvias and an elderberry. For the most part, except for the herbs, everything’s survived the late freezes, the absent-minded watering schedule and brutal bunny attacks (the astilbes and amsonias were chopped to the ground, but not eaten, by a very greedy little rabbit-ling the first year).

This year, I probably overdid a bit with 32 plants total. But I had a good reason — I think some of the stuff from last year was less perennial than I thought (the 8th (?) coldest winter  on record didn’t help) and I replaced some horrible shrubs in the front garden last year with azaleas. So I needed a few things that  a) would be lower so I could get that kind of layered look, b) could fill in for the crispy bits, c) would make my garden a little friendlier to the birds and the bees, and d) wasn’t as big-boxy as my neighbors’ yards. The front garden just has some yellow azaleas, a barberry and a very purple hibiscus. I’m trying to keep it more of the warm color theme – reds, oranges, yellows – to match the house. The hibiscus screws that up, but it was here when I moved in, it’s pretty happy being neglected and the purple flowers last a long time. The back garden is blue and white with a little purple and red thrown in for fun.

Here’s what I got:

  • one hosta (a couple of mine from previous years either bit the dust or are just very late coming up)
  • more hardy geraniums or cranebills (but different colors and one that has purply leaves)
  • more herbs (thyme, a couple of different mints, a couple of lavenders, and some lemon verbena)
  • another hopflower oregano (I’m pretty sure that’s what’s come up again so why not)
  • a couple of baptisias (but not the dwarf indigos – I went for larger white-flowered ones)
  • a new jersey tea (not a huge shrub and I sort of have a white/yellow flowering shrub thing going on)
  • a statice (I just thought it looked interesting)
  • a couple of woadwaxens (mounding, yellow flowers)
  • more catmint (again, it just grows and flowers; I did get different types though)
  • a phlox (just to try but it will have to be hidden from the rabbits)
  • an artemisia (just to try)
  • a couple of penstemons (they had yellow ones!)
  • a fleeceflower (no one was getting them and the tag said they went with catmint, so..)
  • a few salvias (last year’s may or may not be dead)
  • and a quaking grass (for that whole prairie vibe)

Hmmm, it didn’t seem like that much when I was browsing. Although I think the offer so many big hostas so that you don’t notice all the little ones hiding under the leaves. So now I have 32 transplants, 40 sugar pea seedlings and a couple packets of annual seed (flax, nigella, and nasturtiums) to deal with. Oops?

first set of plants

first set of plants


second set of plants

second set of plants


The sale is a big deal and really crowded so, of course, I forgot the amsonias I meant to get the first time through. I wanted to get the other 2 a couple of friends since they’re very vertically oriented. By the time I had gone back about 45 minutes later, all of the amsonias were gone. A lot of the stuff had gone which is part of why I wound up with penstemons and the fleeceflower. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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