We were in Faribault anyway, so I talked the man in my life into a side trip to Donahue’s, just to look. $57 and change later, we were heading home. This is the time of year when gardeners are so starved for color, so sick of winter, and so ready to cut loose, that we are like sailors on shore leave. Roll that lucky seven, I’m buying a hanging basket full of bougainvillea.
So, how can you get a great garden without going broke? Here are four suggestions I’ve heard (though not always followed!) from savvy gardeners.
- Remember: Plants grow. Look at the mature size of a plant before you buy 10 flats of impatiens. That little coleus may grow to 2 feet tall and almost as wide. The Purple Passion rose I bought in Chicago this past weekend will be 5 feet tall and maybe 3 or more feet wide. That’s a pretty good sized plant.
- Hit the garden club plant sales. This weekend is the big weekend for plant sales in Minnesota. For a complete list of sales, check out the hort society’s calendar. (Northfield readers, head to Bridge Square Saturday morning for the Northfield Garden Club’s sale.) If you are fishing or hanging out with your mom this weekend, some clubs hold their sales next weekend as well. Garden club sales are the perfect place to pick up perennials for a reasonable price. Many of these are divisions of well-established plants grown by careful gardeners. In other words, no wimps that will fade in a few weeks. The real benefit of garden club sales, though, are the club members working the sale. They know gardening and love to talk about it and answer questions.
- Defer gratification. If money is tight, remember that the season for selling plants in this climate is remarkably short. You can wait a few weeks, buy your plants at half price or less, and they’ll still grow and look good most of the summer. Selection may be limited, but sometimes you can find a wonderful plant for much less.
- Stretch out your gardening. You don’t have to re-do your landscape in a single year. Landscapers recommend coming up with an overall plan, then planting it one phase at a time.
If none of these work for you, try doing what one woman I know did to fund her plant habit: Get a job at a garden center!