Gardener's Grapevine 2012.05.09

Written by David Green.

What a very nice weekend this past one turned out to be. The temperature was perfect to be working outside and I got so much done in the yard.

There is something so very rewarding about yard work and gardening. Maybe it’s the fact that plants are peaceful and their only means of being obstinate is to throw their babies in places we don’t want them. Sometimes their babies are thrown places by other means, like the wind or birds. A perfect example is a strawberry plant growing in the flower bed on the property line. The strawberry bed is clear in the back of our property. Obviously, the birds had a hand in this little gift. I laughed when I saw it blooming next to a huge bed of coneflower. I left it there and intend to leave it all summer as it makes me think that even a little strawberry can have an attitude. I can hear it saying, “I want to be here and I am.”

Friday evening I stopped at Lowe’s in Toledo on my way home from work. I am not a big fan of garden plants from big box stores as they tend to carry only the basics and nothing very unique. The reason I went to Lowe’s was my mother-in-law Betty bought some very nice pinks (dianthus) a few years back. They did so well and looked so nice I thought they would be a nice addition where some of mine did not return. I did buy the pinks, but somebody needs to go with me when plants are involved just to keep me on the straight and narrow.

As you all know, we had some pretty good frosts lately. My plants came through very well, but not so in other places. Well, Lowe’s had six carts of discounted plants for very low prices. I have a reputation for looking for a bargain and at times have come out very well. Other times I get a dud. I figure if it’s a dud and I paid little of nothing (to quote my mother-in-law) I’m not out much, but if it grows to be a big beautiful plant I’ve struck gold.

This happened to the positive with my flowering almond bush. I don’t see many flowering almonds, but they are a very beautiful bush when they bloom. They are also very costly to purchase one of any size. My grandma Katherine has a beautiful one on the side of her house. Well, I ran across a start at a garden center that was on clearance to less than two dollars. It was about as tall as your hand and had two branches, one of which was dead but no other disease. Now that little start is taller than my knee and has many branches. I won that gamble!

I had a hay day at Lowe’s and not one more plant would have fit in my car for the ride home. I was in hog heaven! From those plants I have all my hanging baskets on the porches planted and they look great with very little cost. It’s like winning a little lottery.

There are a few things to be aware of if you purchase clearance plants. Decide if the plant diseased or just stressed. Stress is if you see dry dead leaves or it’s root bound. Gently turn it over and look at the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. If you see lots of roots, it’s root bound and that’s no big deal, just break them apart before planting. If the plant has black spotty leaves, bitten leaves or bugs on the leaves it is diseased. Leave it there and don’t buy any thing around it either, or the disease will be in your garden on your established plants. Misery loves company as the saying goes.

Remember it’s only a bargain if you get a great plant. So check it out first and by all means, buy it if it only needs TLC.

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