Did You Really Think I Bought All Of These Plants?

November 4, 2009 new 005 (2)

Let’s back up a bit here. For those who believe that only sweet and tender prose emanates from these chlorophyll stained fingertips, stop reading right now and move on to your next blog post reading. Or read some of our older ones, but not this one. Because the hackles are up.

Travel back in time with me to the year 2000. We had just moved back to Tennessee from Texas and we were thick into the renovation of the main house. Many workmen had come and gone, doing different stages of the process of doubling the square footage and redoing the wiring, plumbing, knocking down walls, etc. During this period we were living in the house, or trying to, then purchased the house next door and moved into that for the rest of the time. This was over a period of several months. Every day I would work in the garden while the workman were in and on the house. Most of them commented on the garden. It was still in its infancy, but lots had been planted for we brought a Noah’s Ark of plants with us in the gas guzzler from Texas. Some plants were already growing here, for we had owned the house for four years before we moved back while our daughters, Chickenpoet and Semi lived in it while attending college. All of the original plantings had to be moved for the reno. There was constant gardening being done. And yes, we did buy some things. But one workman in particular commented nearly everyday about the number of plants growing in our gardens. He said that he was glad he wasn’t married to me because I would spend all his money on plants. Well.

Now let us move forward in the time machine to present day. Last month we took a trip to North Carolina for a few days. While we were gone the weather went from pleasant to frigid. Upon returning, it was noted that the house was quite cold. The thermostat was changed from cool to heat and the temp set to warm the house. Nothing happened. The heater was not working. A call was made to the local heat and air service center and men came out to the house. When they were greeted at the door by a bundled up resident, they went on and on about the gardens in front. They liked the stone on the walls and we discussed its provenance, the nearby mountain rock yard. But what caught their eyes was the muhly grass along the driveway, shown in all its glory in the opening photo. Muhlenbergia capillaris was and still is quite showy. I told them the name of the plant, then mentioned that the planting probably contained at least fifty plants, if not more. Their jaws dropped and they had scowling expressions but said nothing. The heater was fixed, it just needed a slight adjustment, and they went on their way to the next heatless person.

I know what they were thinking though. They were seeing dollar signs in a huge bonfire going up in smoke. They were thinking how they never want to bring their wives by our house to see the pink cotton candy grass, for they would surely want the same look for their own property. In fact, many workmen, and even the paper delivery woman do bring their relatives by our house to show them the garden. And all they can see is the front. The big show is in the back, behind the house, away from the public. I am not comfortable working out front, where strangers can see me, and really do little out there.

Now comes the rant. Leave now, you have been warned. First we will address the workman from 2000. There are so many reasons why you would never be married to me that I won’t even begin to legitimize your statement with an answer. But I would not have spent all of your money, or my own, or anybody else’s on plants. My next door neighbor in Texas, we shared a hedge between our side by side driveways, referred to me as “She who is easily annoyed”. (I miss you Jerry!) It was sort of a joke. But the idea that I would have bought every single one of the plants growing here is absurd and I am quite annoyed that anyone would think such a thing. If we had that kind of cash we would not be living in this house. Well maybe we would, but we would also own several other places. One at the beach, one in the mountains…let us not go off on that tangent. Suffice it to say, we cannot afford to purchase thousands of plants. And yet the garden is full to the brim with many thousands of them. Just the muhly planting by the driveway is loaded with over a thousand dollars worth of plants if purchased in little tiny pots online. But, and we gardeners know what the punchline here is, the muhly plantings began as two plants purchased at a big box store not that many years ago. It is the same story for nearly all the perennials. Admittedly, some trees and shrubs have been purchased, but they were one gallon sized and very reasonably priced. The Chamaecyparis cultivars scattered about were eight dollars apiece. Some things were passalongs from friends and family. Mae and Mickey from down the street have given me uncountable tree seedlings and shrubs they grew from cuttings and suckers. It’s what gardeners do. There is another source for plants that is very cheap, if not free.

November 11, 2009 003 (2)
Have you never heard of seeds? It is not just vegetables that can be grown from seeds. Of course saved seeds are cheaper, but even buying seeds locally or online gives plantings that would be quite expensive if purchased as fully grown plants. What began as collecting one of everything has now developed into wanting mass plantings of everything. How to fund such an endeavor? Besides division, and not all plants can be divided, seeds are the cheapest way to have a bunch of anything. Normally we begin having fun with seeds in the greenhouse/sunroom after the holidays are over when there is a huge letdown after all that family fun. Fooling with seed starting keeps us occupied on those days when it is too cold or wet to be outside. Last year we bought grow lights and heat mats and what a difference those made in the germination rate. There was the little detail of starting the seeds too soon and running out of room before they could be planted safely outside. This year will be different. We are not starting anything inside that can be grown out of doors after the last frost date, mid to late April. We are not going to start tomatoes or any other veggies that can be purchased locally. We are only going to start those plants that we want to have mass plantings of and cannot be purchased or divided…

November 11, 2009 001 (2)
…Like Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’. More than two dozen of them.

November 11, 2009 004 (2)
Or Salvia transylvanica. Another two dozen. It seemed a good idea to start the seeds while the temps were still mild outside and the greenhouse was quite warm. Several of the packets, those shown, germinated quickly without using the heat mats. They will be grown on under the lights until spring and be properly hardened off then before going into the ground.

November 11, 2009 009 (2)
Seeds sown in pots outside in early fall from our own crosses of daylilies will winter over in the vacationland greenhouse to speed up the time to flower, it is hoped. We have to decide whether to repot these singly or leave them as is and seperate them in the garden next spring.

November 11, 2009 006 (2)
We brought this ornamental pepper plant to winter over to be planted out in the garden next year. Lucky thing, for babies started springing up from the base as soon as it came inside. Another mass planting without even having to start the seeds ourselves on this one.

November 11, 2009 022 (2)
Here’s the point being made with this tirade, a garden does not happen instantly, nor does it remain static. Growth happens. That’s the idea. While some people want immediate gratification and can afford to have a beautiful landscape installed by professionals, I don’t consider that gardening. Many make a comfortable living doing artfully crafted hardscape and plantings, and even maintaining those plantings. I am all for it. But that is not what my garden is. I want to do it myself, and that means seeds, divisions and dirty hands, but not a small fortune necessary to surround oneself with growing things that give great joy every single day of our lives.

The Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’ is divided as soon as new plants become available to fill in around Athena at the corner of the daylily hill. It began as one small plant purchased at the big box.

Thanks for putting up with that, Whew! I feel much better now.

And to you, Mr. Brock, I would not have married you even if you looked like Johnny Depp, which you don’t, with that skinflint attitude.


This entry was posted in Musings, Rants, Seeds, Tightwad gardening. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Did You Really Think I Bought All Of These Plants?

  1. gittan says:

    Amen to that! I agree in every possible way. My garden is growing slowly but we’re doing it all by ourselves just as we do with a lot of the plants. That’s the fun part! In todays post at my blogg you’re abel to see how our garden looked when we moved here. It’squite fun to see the changes. Now I know that your front garden looks great to =) Hurray for seeds, divisions and gardening friends / gittan

    Thanks for your support, Gittan! I so enjoyed seeing the history of your own space. You have done so much, and it shows. πŸ™‚

  2. Darla says:

    AMEN!!! I love this venting here…Everyone knows I love seeds, divisions and pass-a-longs…I do not consider professionally-scaped gardens, gardening either!! I toast your seed starting, plant dividing dirty hands!!

    Thanks Darla. You are right, gardening is about doing. Or as Monica says, the word garden is a verb! HA πŸ™‚

  3. Liisa says:

    Glad you were able to get that off your chest, Frances. If it weren’t for starting seeds and dividing, I don’t think I would have much to blog about. πŸ™‚ Your gardens are obviously a labor of love, and always a treat to *visit*

    Hi Liisa, thanks, so nice to see you here. I do feel better having aired out those feelings a little. Making more plants from other plants is so very satisfying, a huge part of gardening. πŸ™‚

  4. Good morning Frances, I totally agree with you… my garden is the result of my hard work and I have been doing it step by step and I love playing around with seeds, antirrinos, cosmos, hollyhocks, etc and dividing my agapanthus, and reproducing from the cuttings many of my roses. Congratulations for you dirty hands… does your back hurst sometimes??? mine does a lot.
    Muchos cariΓ±os
    MarΓ­a Cecilia

    Hi Maria, thanks for your agreement. Gardening and hard work are one in the same. Your agapanthus is just magnificent too, your hard labor shows through in the beauty of your own gardens. My back hurts, along with every other part of my body after gardening, but it hurts when I don’t garden too, so might as well get something accomplished! πŸ™‚

  5. Jan says:

    My garden was built the same way, Frances. So many generous gardeners (esp. my sister and mother) have shared plants with me. It is amazing how fast rooted cuttings, seedlings, and divisions fill in an area. Maybe those workmen were just familiar with the “instant gardens” that landscapers do on TV shows.

    Always Growing

    Hi Jan, thanks. Yours sounds like a real garden, kudos! Many people around here, men in particular, think of gardens as vegetable plots that get tilled every year. It’s all they know, not really their fault. Flowers are a luxury to them, unless they produce something to eat, like apples for instance. It is their loss, not understanding that a beautiful garden doesn’t necessarily come from a great expenditure of cash. Labor, yes, money, no. πŸ™‚

  6. Praveshree says:

    You see that is why I was inspired to start blogging about my garden , it was you. It’s about doing it my self , learning from many many mistakes .. I don’t want it overnight. I want to say it’s been a very enjoyable journey. Thank you for inspiration Frances

    Dear Praveshree, thank you so much for that, what a terrrific compliment! We all get inspiration from each other, the garden blogging community, such a wonderful bunch of folks! Gardening is truly a personal journey, every success and failure is a learning experience that makes us better gardeners and people. So satisfying to create something ourselves that is ever changing too. πŸ™‚

  7. Gill says:

    Great post……..I so wish you lived next door as I have five acres to sort out, and I could do with your skills. Since we moved in, in May of this year, our goal was just to tidy the place up, which we did. 2010 we will try to put OUR mark on it……wish me luck!!

    Splitting plants though is one of the easiest ways of having more and more plants!!

    Could you do a post on weed elimination, or how to not spend every waking hour of the day in the garden weeding!!!

    Gill in Canada

    Hi Gill, thanks so much, you are very sweet. Five acres, what a treat! I would love to be able to help you, but am not that good with the growing conditions where you live. I do have a friend who lives on the north shore of Lake Erie and have helped her plant her garden as best as I can. You have some fine soil there, and the evergreens grow like nowhere else on earth, such majesty. Weed control? Plant so many other things that the weeds are shaded out! I suggest you find a good book on native plants for your area to learn what will be happy there and dig in! πŸ™‚

  8. Lzyjo says:

    oh man! The things the people have the nerve to say! Like you, gardening is my hobby, which means spending time and money doing it. Perhaps you’ve heard of starving artists, well we generally don’t have a lot of money, but we do have enough for seeds. I honestly don’t want to know how many 100s I’ve spent on seeds! Not only are they cheap, but it’s exciting watching things germinate in the dead of winter and it’s also reward to see your babies flower. What a joke, our gardens’ would be empty if we payed full price for every plant at the garden center!

    Hi Lzyjo, so true! If the total expenditure was added up for the plants and seeds, it would be very upsetting. But still a bargain compared to what could have been spent, if the funds were available. We must remember that it was over a long period of time too, with the heaviest spending at the beginning. πŸ™‚

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You said it girl. The fun of gardening is the propagation, exchange and even the waiting for plants to multiply and mature.

    Thanks Lisa. It is fun to look at the garden every day for changes and growth. There is always something new to see. πŸ™‚

  10. Don’t forget late fall clearance sales! I picked up two dozen alchemilla for 30 cents each at my local nursery a few weeks ago. Fall is the best time to plant anyway!

    I forgot about that, Joseph, you are so right! We have gotten incredible deals at the big box stores at this time of year as they clear things out to make way for Christmas trees. We have gotten pricey Japanese maples and birch trees for a tiny fraction of the original cost. We bought eight vitex,five gallon size for our daughter Semi’s brand new garden for a quarter a piece back in 2003. They are all over fifteen feet tall now, an amazing array of blue blooms and a wonderful privacy screen along the fence line. Fall is a much better time to plant, cool moist ground that needs no watering with the nice rains we have been enjoying. I was hoping you could help identify the yellow button mum in the previous bloom day post? πŸ™‚

    • The Mum? There are WAY too many varieties of mums in the world for that. Well… maybe not. Okay. I can’t resist a challenge. But I’m not promising anything!

      Thanks Joseph. You were the only one who was able to identify that perennial pepper as the non pepper Jerusalem Cherry. We have even seen it for sale at the grocer’s recently. The unique characteristic about the yellow button mum is the very late flowering, well after all the others, including Sheffield Pink. It is tall and lanky and extremely hardy. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  11. Time and effort are the main expenses in any good garden! I’ve found that the plants I add can be done very cheaply either through seeds, propagation (cuttings or division), or through friends. I’m all about cheap plants! Still 50 Muhly grass plants makes my jaw drop! If you did have to purchase them that would be one hefty bill!

    Your jaw too, Dave? Et tu! HA Good thing time is on our side, if we just wait until the plants are large enough to divide. Sometimes I have rushed that and killed the plant, or it was of a type that should not be divided. I am better about it now that the garden is so full to overflowing, but still like to experiment with chopping things up. πŸ™‚

  12. Janet says:

    Oh come on Frances, we all know you are a spendthrift! hahahaha πŸ™‚ Seriously, people who don’t garden have no idea. Seeds and sharing is the name of the game. Well, that and a labor of love over the years.
    At least they noticed the Muhly grass, they could have had blinders on. (though I can’t imagine not noticing it!)

    Janet, have you been speaking with The Financier by any chance? HA I was happy that they asked about the muhly grass after the rock conversation. I should not have added that remark about how many plants it was. Next time I’ll know better. When they were here, it would have been impossible for them to not notice it. The color has faded quite a bit lately, but still shows pink when backlit by the seldom seen sun. πŸ™‚

  13. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, I thought this so funny! Most of the fun of gardening is growing new plants from division, seeds or cuttings. Which is why some people see gardening as a chore. I have been known to take a cutting which I don’t want/have no room for, just to see if it will grow!

    I don’t like gardening by the road but 50% of my garden is open plan, so needs must. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks. It was meant to be taken lightly, even though I was annoyed by Mr. Brock. Especially having to see him every day for months. He really did a good job on the house though. It is hard to explain to non gardeners how easy it is to get new plants for free. I am glad that my front garden is very maintenance free, with trees and shrubs mostly. Getting it started took lots of effort, and it would be different if I began working on it today, but I like not having to do much out there.

  14. Hi Frances, I think you’re preaching to the converted, LOL! I, too, have many plants and I live a very frugal lifestyle. Some people do have their gardens landscaped, which is a rant of mine (landscaping is the opposite of gardening), and which does require a lot of money. I did gardening for some of them and some were plenty fine people. Just because someone has money doesn’t make them an ass, and just because someone hasn’t doesn’t mean they’re a bum. Which means it really makes no difference to me how a real gardener gets all of his/her plants… what matters is that they’re part of their garden and enjoy the process. To me the dividing line is whether a garden is viewed as an accessory or a haven, as it were. Thanks for stimulating thought on the matter.

    Hi Monica, thanks. I used to run a landscaping business , very small scale, myself, so know how nice those people can be. It certainly helps keep some of us in the black rather than the red. But I always tried to get my clients involved in the garden on an emotional level too. It is so rewarding and a hobby that can last a lifetime. But this rant is about the workmen with the attitude. HA πŸ™‚

  15. Tatyana says:

    Great post Frances! A good start for my rainy morning! Yes, everything grows, spreads, self-seeds; branches touch the ground and start roots, etc., etc… We just need to see it and use our hands to help this eternal process in our gardens.

    Thanks Tatyana. I was just having a little fun and blowing off some steam at the same time. πŸ™‚

  16. Gail says:

    Frances, I am here to attest to the fertility of your garden….It was simply delightful to see muhly popping up in the gravel. But, it wasn’t just muhly~~salvia, euphorbia, hypericums, asters…the list is long. There was enough to start several gardens and give them a full look! I think you might be right when you said to me “I don’t know why my whole garden isn’t gravel!” Where did you find those magic pebbles? gail ps A great rant, btw! and, Thanks for helping fill up my garden.

    Thanks Gail. It has to be seen to be believed, doesn’t it? After reading more of the wonderful wildflowers of TN book you gave me, what a treasure it is!, I see some of the reasons why this garden grows things so well. Millions of years of the earth’s plates shifting and moving soil around from all over the world, deposting richness right here at Fairegarden. Or that is the reading I am getting from it. The gravel came from the bottom of the Tennessee River by Chattanooga. πŸ™‚

  17. Frances, you have touched a bit of a nerve with me as well. As you know, I am building a brand new garden from scratch. When we purchased the house in 2005, there was nothing there but lawn and some majestic old trees. When workmen and or neighbours call at the house there is always the comment about how expensive and how much work it must be. A agree with all of your remarks, I have received gifts, divided plants, started things from seed and exhibited patience. But, why should I have to justify it? This is my hobby, I do not smoke, or gamble or spend my money on fishing or hunting like some of my neighbours. A lot of these plants have been birthay or anniversary presents. But people do not see that. Why do I care?

    Hi Deborah, thanks for contributing your experiences. Often neighbors and other non gardeners just don’t understand what we are doing when we spend so many hours out there. Another pet peeve of mine is the comment of visitors who look at your garden, and instead of saying something nice, will say what a lot of work! That is so insulting. You should not care what they say or think, but might in time shine the light of gardening’s true value their way by your actions. πŸ™‚

  18. Autumn Belle says:

    Frances, you have said it all. I agree with you all the way. It took me 3 years before the small little plot of land in my new house looked like a garden. Like doing my marketing, I buy what is cheap for the season and slowly add on little by little. My plants are like my babies, DIY is indeed very rewarding. I see my family grow. But for some of my neighbours who paid to do the landscaping, the plants died of old age and now the land is bare with pacthes here and there because the novelty has worn off for them. In creating a garden, I also brought up a family of green inhabitants, each having a character and story of its own.

    Thanks Autumn Belle. It does take time and caring to raise a garden, just like raising young humans into contributing adults. Congratulations on your own green crew. It is too bad when people don’t recognize the opportunities of happiness that can be gained by working outside in their own plots, it is their loss. πŸ™‚

  19. rosey pollen says:

    What a fantastic post! I learned how to start seeds from my Dad. One winter I was extremely depressed and he said start planting your indoor seeds. It really banished the blues for me It also keeps me sane. I liked what you said about the infamous Johnny. “savvy?”

    Thanks Rosey. Seed starting really is a sanity saver here during the winter too, and we are even able to dig and garden somewhat outdoors then. I am loving the grow lights we got last year, they help me grow too. Ah J. Depp, sigh. HA πŸ™‚

  20. Catherine says:

    I really think people who don’t garden just don’t get a lot of what goes on with gardening. They see the dollar signs and that’s all. It’s amazing how many plants a one gallon plant can turn into in a few years. Many of my plants are divisions, shared, or self seeded that I move around. I even mentioned in my post today that I divide new plants or buy pots with more than one plant if I can find them. Not much better than a great deal on a plant or starting one from seed. Great post πŸ™‚
    It’s too bad people can’t look past the

    You are so right, Catherine. Finding a pot bursting at the seams at Mouse Creek is such a bonus. Or if the roots are growing out the bottom of the pot with foliage attached. When Ruth sees that I have made a find like that, she has her employees repot that group immediately. It is a bit of a joke between us. The non gardeners who would really like to start but are afraid of the cost need to be encouraged by the rest of us with sharing from our own gardens. We have given many a plant to people like that and gotten them hooked for life. No regrets! πŸ™‚

  21. ourfriendben says:

    Well, now, really, Frances! If he looked like Johnny Depp, there might have been compensations… Great rant. I especially liked your bringing up the distinction between people who pay “exterior decorators” to create and maintain their usually sterile, generic landscapes, much like those who pay interior decorators to create obviously expensive and usually sterile, ugly rooms, and real gardeners who love sinking their hands in the soil and watching each and every change as the seasons pass and their gardens perpetually surprise them. Thanks for a good read!

    Thanks OFB, if he looked like JD, I would have spent more time inside the house! HA Those people who can afford both indoor and outdoor decorators don’t know what they are missing. I have had friends like that, who even paid ME to do their landscaping. They seemed to have a time management problem, not being able to do those things for themselves but wanting their spaces to be nice. It is they who are missing out. Think of the joy our gardens give us, and stress relief! πŸ™‚

  22. nancybond says:

    I’m afraid I’d have let him think you’re insanely rich and that, yes, you did purchase each and every individual plant. πŸ˜‰ People like that, though annoying, are just too much fun!

    Oh how funny you are, Nancy! He knew we weren’t rich, or we wouldn’t have hired HIM. HA Doing renovations is stressful, I may have been overly sensitive. πŸ™‚

  23. Alice Joyce says:

    One of my favorite posts ever!

    How you’ve captured the passion that drives us to create a fully dimensional artwork that is a garden: Each one unique, each the result of toiling – with love of course, to make it happen. The patience necessary to keep going when plants die or need to be moved. The effort, such considerable effort, to propagate plants!! Not to overdo the exclamation points, but there’s something to be said for the pass-along plants we incorporate in our gardens, and the ones we pass to others. Each, in its way representing a friend or the memory of a friendship as we weave our way through the garden paths.
    I’ll stop now ;~D You’ve said it perfectly.

    Thanks Alice. As Monica said, I am preaching to the choir here. We all get it, and have come across those who don’t. It is sad to think that they are missing out on an activity that repays us many times over for our labors with joy and delight. Gardening is definitely about sharing the wealth, both plants and knowledge. That is why blogging is so perfect for us gardeners. πŸ™‚

  24. Now now there “She who is easily annoyed.” These are perfect opportunities to say to the workmen, “What are you nuts? You think I bought all these plants.” Then leave them to wonder.

    Now I will agree there is a difference between professionally designed and installed landscapes and the gardens of real gardeners. But: Should the wealthy and the lazy be deprived of having nice gardens even if they lack the stamp of the owners unique individuality and passion for plants. I think not.

    Maybe a little too revealing about me, eh Christopher? The renovation was fairly stressful, especially since we were living in the house at the time. I was not what one would have called laid back. Thank goodness for the garden, many an hour was spent digging, a great stres reliever. I am amused that you lump wealthy and lazy together for your own take on it. As a former garden designer, of course we need those people to pay people like you and me. But they are missing out on all the fun. πŸ™‚

  25. That’s him told then!

    I love this.

    You can rant your head off why not? Proper gardening.

    There ain’t nothing as satisfying as when a cutting roots or growing stuff from seed.

    A presenter on the BBC’s Gardeners World, Carol Klein, grew her garden almost entirely through home propagation. She went on to win gold medals at Chelsea and her own garden, Glebe Cottage in devon is a dream.

    Oh Rob, you are too funny! Thanks. I read Carol Klein in Gardens Illustrated, my favorite gardening magazine. Good for her, full of spunk she is too. πŸ™‚

  26. Nicole says:

    LOL. Obviously these are non-gardeners who “buy all their plants” so they can’t conceive someone actually took all the time to propagate and lovingly them, that’s why you have masses in the garden.

    Hi Nicole, thanks. The workmen in our area, for the most part, think of gardening as growing vegetables in rows. Flowers are not to be taken seriously, pretty as they are. That someone would spend so much time on a non edible garden seems a waste of time to them, I’m sure. Then there is my mailman, Claude, da mailman, who has given me treasures beyond measure, including Spigelia marilandica, among others. I do love the diversity here, really. πŸ™‚

  27. Elephant's Eye says:

    The sad bit of that story is that the handyman spends his money on … TV, beer, junk food? He doesn’t know or understand the value of a garden. The wildlife habitat. The pleasure we get from gardening. Just looking at the garden. And how would he ever reach understanding?

    Hi Diana, thanks for stopping by and weighing in. As I recall, Mister Brock was the most tightwad man alive, spending not one penny that he didn’t have to on anything. I am all for thriftiness, but he was extreme. His loss, for gardening could have been a very economical pursuit if he only knew the truth.

  28. Hi Frances,

    I love how your post shows that gardens are living things, they reproduce and grow. They don’t have to cost lot of $.

    Your Muhly grass is beautiful. I have found that men in particular are drawn to it. I had a golf course superintendent plant it all over his golf course after I had used it in just one of his feature areas.

    Hi Noelle, thanks. It is true what you say about men being drawn to the muhly over other types of plants. I wonder why that is? πŸ™‚

  29. Really, Frances, you shouldn’t keep things bottled up! ;^) That workman has no poetry in his soul, which is his loss. If I were better with seed starting, I do a lot more of it, but I’m very much into the divide & multiply method of gardening.

    Hi MMD, thanks for that advice. You are so right about Mister Brock, poetry of any kind was pretty much foreign to him, bless his ignorant heart. Division of plants is a fave pursuit here too, but you have to have one to divide it. I am not very good at seeds, but consider any that live on to be a huge success. πŸ™‚

  30. easygardener says:

    For many non gardeners their only experience comes from watching those “Instant make over gardens” on television – where everything is bought in, no expense spared. No wonder the poor things have no concept of a garden evolving over time using much cheaper methods.
    A rant is good for the soul πŸ™‚

    Thanks EG. Those instant garden shows make me cringe! They often put upholstered furnishings outside that would be mildewed and ruined in most climates too. A pet peeve of mine. Seems like I have a lot of pet peeves here lately. HA πŸ™‚

  31. Les says:

    Your rant is well stated. As a gardener I resent Mr. Brock’s comment to you, but even though I am male, I smell sexism in the comment. My personal peeve is when people see my very full, but small yard and say “I could never do anything like that, it is too much work”. Then they go mow and fertilize and weed and irrigate their very boring lawns. After an initial investment of time and labor, the garden now takes much less work, leading more time for enjoyment.

    Thanks Les. You are quite astute, as usual. Mister Brock was very sexist, even though he was a good finish carpenter and painter. The too much work remark grates on my nerves too, since I am just complaining about every little thing today it seems. I am lollygagging and enjoying the garden, piddling really, while the neighbors are slaves to their lawns. If they only knew the truth of it all. πŸ™‚

  32. Sweet Bay says:

    LOL Frances, I agree with the rant your chlorophyll-stained fingers typed out. The things that non-gardening folks say… (shaking head) They don’t know what they don’t know.

    I too run a small non-retail nursery, on my front porch.

    Thanks Sweet Bay. As Monica said, I am preaching to the choir, but that is sort of fun too. How fun to have the little nursery on your front porch. And a very nice porch it is too. πŸ™‚

  33. Diana says:

    Frances, I luv it! Doesn’t it amaze you how people who know nothing about you, so quickly come to judgment?

    We had a county inspector come by & as I greeted him at the door, his eyes rolled as he said, “you really have it made”. Huh?!? He had no idea about the property we originally bought, it’s condition, the back surgery I had following cleanup, planting, moving large rocks, wielding a trencher, hauling dirt and stones and blackberry vines, the divisions we’ve made from one ornamental grass… okay, sorry, this is your rant, not mine. LOL Great post.

    Hi Diana, thanks. Assumptions can certainly be wrong, can’t they? You would think some people would at least learn not to roll their eyes, such a giveaway of what they are thinking. πŸ™‚

  34. Oh honey! You know you can never have enough hats ,gloves ,and shoes and the same thing goes for gardening, dash anyone whom thinks otherwise, I am reminded of the attitudes of a certain neighbor I have when they saw me putting an artfully curved row of iris across the front of the house,eventually to be backfilled with tall sedums and cedar glade
    st johns wort thick and full no fuss landscaping across the front beds where not much grows and it is quite dry, and her remark that I must have spent a fortune, on the irises I had been digging for 2 days in the back by the fence where they were crowded out and along the dry creek, or the cedar glade st. John’s wort I pulled out of a rubble
    pile at a nearby development,or the autumn blaze sedum I had systematically chopped up into dixie cups for an entire season to achieve a good full row of them. I guess they see that tags at the store and wonder how you afford it,just ignorance where gardening is concerned. in this particular neighbors case I just smiled and said “you know it hun, and I just love your lil monkey grass garden”

    Hi JJ, you are too funny! For me, it is gardening gloves, they wear out so fast and I like to have a clean dry pair to begin the day. Your front bed sounds divine, we are just discovering the native hypericums here and love them. I do believe it pays to take a gentle approach when dealing with neighbors. I said nothing to the workmen either, just laughed. You never know when someone is just kidding. πŸ™‚

    • Oh yes indeed, a definite gentle hand, that’s how I got the monkey grass for the shady side of the house(I know right but it grows there where everything else refuses and I mean everything)

      Hi JJ, no need to defend having monkey grass, I have it too. It will grow where nothing else will. It is used as the buffer along the curbside, interplanted with daffodils, three rows of it. It gets mowed around January to make for a neater appearance for the daffs. It is also an edger along the pathway where the lawn meets the gravel to keep from having to edge. I hate edging. πŸ™‚

  35. Rose says:

    Rant all you want, Frances–you go, girl!! I’ve had my share of rather rude repairmen: “Why don’t you just buy all new cabinets, lady?” or “So this carpet must be 50 years old?” It’s none of their darned business! I’m happy with my modest house–other than the carpet that Sophie has stained or eaten, that is. I’d rather spend money on plants any day than on new clothes that never make me look like Cheryl Tiegs anyway. So…oh, yes, we were talking about gardening. This is why my garden is still small, because I’ve done it all myself, including digging up new beds by hand with a spade. This last year, I filled up the new butterfly garden mostly with pass-alongs, divisions, and of course, seeds!
    And Johnny Depp, I’ve read, is quite the gentleman–he never would have made such a remark:)

    Hi Rose, thanks for the back up. As for spending money, I would rather spend it on plants than anything else, except maybe composted manure! HA Your garden is fabulous, and knowing you have done it all yourself gives a satisfaction that cannot be explained to non gardeners. I just read that Johnny Depp was named the sexiest man alive for 2009, hear hear!!! πŸ™‚ Or is it here here?

  36. Jen says:

    Almost every plant that I have growing in my modest patio garden, of over 200 pots, started out as a 4 inch pot,or it was seeded, or it was a gift.

    Some of those perennials are worth a small fortune now. Plants grow, gardeners know that, and non gardeners just think that they cost a fortune. It’s their loss, isn’t it?

    Great post.


    Hi Jen, thanks for your two cents worth. We gardeners know how to have lovely spots without spending a fortune, it is one of the best things about this hobby. πŸ™‚

  37. VW says:

    Sorry for the rude workman, Frances. Deep breaths πŸ™‚ I have a hard time turning my attention from the rude people I encounter sometimes, too. But in the end I’m glad that I don’t think of snappy comebacks quickly enough to use them. Hubby and I like to remind each other that maybe the rude person’s dog died that day, or there were other extenuating circumstances that we don’t know about. That helps us feel better, mostly.

    Thanks VW. This was actually sort of tongue in cheek, sort of. Those things really did happen and I was annoyed by those workman, but not to the extent that the post might lead one to believe. And yes, they might be having a bad day. Renovations while you are living in a house are stressful however, no matter how nice the workman are, and most of them were nice most of the time. Even the heater guys were quite nice, they just don’t understand how a beautiful garden could not be an expensive one. πŸ™‚

  38. Hi Frances,
    First visit to your blog, that Muhlenbergia is simply stunning! I agree with what VW just said. Sometimes people say thoughtless things and forget about it, not realizing they are giving someone something to stew about for…years? It’s nice to be able to just let that kind of thing go. Hope you feel better!

    Thanks Laura and welcome. I am honored that you have stopped by and liked what you found here. You have some CRED, woman! πŸ™‚ My little rant was mostly for entertainment value, we are usually sickeningly sweet here. πŸ™‚

  39. mothernaturesgarden says:

    Athena on the moss covered hill with heuchera is stunning. I will be replicating it in some manner. Love it!

    Thanks Donna. The heucheras are one of few plants that enjoy those special conditions and silver scrolls has leaves that do not get all giant and floppy, not to mention the gorgeous color. Replicate away! πŸ™‚

  40. tina says:

    Glad you got that off your chest. I tell my husband all the time the plants I buy reward me by making more. His car parts on the other hand, well, we won’t go there. I have hopes my 4″ pot of muhly will make more but the problem will be to find a spot for it all.

    You are so right, Tina. Plants are one of the few things that can multiply, making them superb investments! Finding the right place for these plants is a little tougher assignment. Sometimes things must be discarded, into the compost bin of course, to make way for better selections. But you have lots of room there, much more than I do. So fun. πŸ™‚

  41. Excellent post, I’m a plantaholic, and the first thing I do when I buy a new one, is look to see how I can make more of it, before I even plant it. Dividing right from the nursery pot is often rewarding.

    Thanks Carolyn. I too try to select the pot that has extra plants in it that can be divided, consider the mass planting that results a head start on the look and money in the bank! πŸ™‚

  42. Liz says:

    Great rant Frances and I SO agree with you! I seem to spend a lot of time fending off questions about how I can afford to fill my garden with plants (- not that it’s actually any of their business!) and explaining about growing seeds, splitting plants and scrounging ‘goodies’ from tolerant friends and family! πŸ™‚

    BTW, I just love that Muhlenbergia …… I can feel a mass planting coming on!!!

    Hi Liz, thanks. It’s funny how non gardeners cannot imagine how easy it is to make new plants. If they only knew, they might get those hands dirty too. Good luck with the muhly, it is a fabulous plant. πŸ™‚

  43. Kate says:

    A woman after my own heart… this is my 6th year of ‘landscaping’ my little half acre of paradise. It’s been slow-going because I start pretty much everything by seed. It’s the journey.. the digging in the dirt and watching one little Columbine become 20 that is most gratifying to me.

    Thanks Kate. Time is on our side as we wait for those seedlings and divisions to grow on. All of sudden, metaphorically speaking, you gaze out at the garden and it has matured and looks great. So much satisfaction in doing that way too. πŸ™‚

  44. Joanne says:

    Well that told him.
    Francis I always recognised you as a true gardener not someone who shipped plants in from the shops in bulk. They miss so much fun seeding and nuturing and making do and mending and cuttings and propagating.

    Your garden is wonderful as well you know and sad that others didn’t have the insight to see how creative you are.

    Before we moved to this house I spent many hours digging and splitting favourite plants from our old garden and when they arrived in the removal van the men were most amused at the livestock that were climbing up the sides of the van leaving their slimey trail but they did not complain.

    Needless to say my plants were lost in our current garden but helped to add variety and make a start to my present collection.

    HA Joanne, thanks for the back up! I am in awe that you moved plants in a van. We never have done that but do always move them in the car, packed to the rafters. Sorry about your losses, but it sounds like they are not forgotten. πŸ™‚

  45. Teresa O says:

    Rant on, Frances! People who don’t garden have no idea how a green thumber will beg, borrow, and steal to get more plants. I’m not talking about stealing an entire plant, but, once in a great while I know gardeners who pinch a plant in hopes of starting one. Sharing is another way to fill the garden and nature’s generous way of creating more from one plant brings smiles and earth under the nails to happy gardeners. Your workman revealed his garden ignorance.

    Hi Teresa, thanks for the support! Pinching or seed gathering is a fine way to borrow plants. My neighbor Mae, how I miss her, was so generous when we first moved here. She said that for every plant you shared, good things would come back to you threefold. Words to live by. πŸ™‚

  46. Way to go, Frances! Separating the real gardeners from the dilettantes is a tough assignment, but you are obviously up to the challenge.

    Hi Ricki, thanks for your support. I had to look up dilettante, and don’t think Mister Brock even qualified as that. He was a sub-dilettante, and that may be too generous. HA πŸ™‚

  47. Deirdre says:

    I’m not much good at seeds (except taking advantage of accidental seedlings), but divisions, cuttings, shared plants, I am good at. I just bought a particularly pretty mum at the grocery store. It’s actually 5 starts in one pot. Guess what I’m going to do as soon as it finishes blooming.
    Think of the Mr. Brock’s comment as not being about the cost of your garden, but the VALUE of your garden. You have a lot of valuable plants, and have increased the value of your property.

    Hi Deirdre, thanks for visiting. Thanks too for showing me that possibly Mister Brock was paying the garden a compliment. It is a wealth of plants. About increasing the value of the property, it is dubious. Having sold several houses, we have learned that people tend to see a garden such as this, not as an asset, but as a whole lot of work. Whoever buys this house, long after I am gone hopefully, will probably bulldoze the garden and plant grass, not the ornamental kind either. Sad, but I am a realist, sometimes. πŸ™‚

  48. dirtynailz says:

    I enjoyed this post, too, although I couldn’t help but feel that you were preaching to the choir. The non-gardeners who know nothing but nonetheless feel free to inflict their ignorant (and often sexist) comments on us will never read this. I think that we have all experienced such attitudes, and I am so glad you expressed our collective frustration in your rant! Thanks, Frances.
    PS Seeds rule.

    Hi Cynthia, thanks. I know what you mean about preaching to the choir, but what the heck, the choir is my audience! HA Now Seeds Rule should be cross stitched and framed. πŸ™‚

  49. Janie says:

    I agree totally. Seeds, divisions, volunteers- ALL are a huge part of my life! I do buy plants, usually on sale, and always with an eye to how many cuttings I can take from it, or something similar. I cherish the plants given to me by friends. Great Rant!

    Hi Janie, thanks. Making new plants from existing plants, whether for yourself or to share with others is one of the most fun and rewarding things about gardening. Non gardeners don’t know what joy they are missing. πŸ™‚

  50. sequoiagardens says:

    Go Girl!
    I quite agree. I would LOVE to spend tens of thousands a year on my garden. It would in fact be very easy with my huge area! I don’t have it so I can’t.
    What I do have is over 25 years of dedication. (TG I started young and hopefully have another 25 ahead of me!) I was writing a post today I’ll finish over the weekend in which I realised that hardly a plant in the Beech Borders, a huge area of impressive garden, was NOT grown from cuttings on the farm!
    As a professional gardener I know what gardening from scratch costs – which is why I avoid brand new gardens like the plague. You spend what to a client who has just built a house is a small fortune, and when you say goodbye you leave them a few sticks and say “wait three years!” Or worse, provide them with the instant gratification of an ultra-expensive garden.
    I am my own best client because I can keep TIME in the equation. Gardening is not moving from week-old garden to week-old garden. That’s landscaping and I’m a gardener! (Pity I don’t pay very well πŸ™‚ …)
    Your grasses have me drooling – would they grow from seed or would it have to be divisions? I am thinking of arranging to import some. (I have a friend who is a commercial grower of registered plants and I want to interest him.) Any comment on how they are started off, or contact details for a wholesaler would be greatly appreciated! Regards – Jack

    Hi Jack, thanks. It sounds like you have your own rant! Good for you! If you are referring to the muhly grass, it has seeded about, particularly in the gravel paths nearby. I started with two one gallon pots of it and have divided it ruthlessly over several years. It is just now starting to fill in and have the impact it does now. I wish you luck getting some. It is not seen much here. I got mine at a big box home improvement store and have never seen it there again.

  51. Town Mouse says:

    Ha! Don’t get me started. With any garden remodel, the cost of the plants is so small compared with the hardscaping and other necessaries that it’s really negligable. If anything, I think people don’t spend enough on good quality plants.
    Country Mouse and I differ here, she has a lot of space and propagates and uses seeds a lot. I don’t have a convenient area to do that in, but figure someone has to support the native plant nurseries. (Well, OK, I propagate and divide a bit, and will sow some annuals, but it’s not so aesthetically pleasing to see rows of pots with chicken wire over them, so I don’t do much)

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks, so nice to see you here. You are so right about the big cost of gardening being the hardscape. Even if the materials can be found discounted, that is by far the biggest expense. Best to do it up front too, to see where the beds will go around it. I like to buy from our local nursery too, Mouse Creek. But will usually only buy one or two of something, except for small annuals like violas, and then divide them. We do have to use chicken wire on occasion too. πŸ™‚

  52. Honestly, I get the same reaction too, and I find it very humorous. Yes, seeds are the way to go along with division. Mathematics, who knew I’d use that after school?~~Dee

    Hi Dee, it is something that those of us with intensive gardens hear from non gardening visitors. That and the this must be so much work comment. You are so funny, I never thought about the math angle of divisions, HA! πŸ™‚

  53. Amy Emerick says:

    Great post! I am sure that there is more satisfaction as well when you grow from seed. I’ll be honest, I am new at this…but you have me inspired to start more from seed. I do divide a lot of my perennials and I love to give some to neighbors and plant in different places in our yard. I love to dig in the dirt! I enjoyed your post, Frances

    Thanks Amy. While there is a very high failure rate from seed starting, more so when we first began, when something does germinate and grow to a nice large plant, like the Cobaea, among others, it is so satisfying. Keep trying! πŸ™‚

  54. Frances, By the number of comments here, you’ve clearly touched a nerve with many. I haven’t always been as good about propagating as I could be, or should be… but looking at my budget for the transformation of my front garden, I’m “gonna hafta” become very adept.

    Don’t let those philistines get to you for a minute. It was ever thus. As Jane Austen wrote: One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. Those who know, know how creative and careful you have been about gardenmaking.

    Hi Helen, thanks for the positive support! Divisions and seeds are very soothing to the budget. While not all are successes, many are quite rewarding and that really spurs us on to try even more. I am not so good with cuttings, but that is really the least disruptive way to make more plants. Gonna hafta should be embroidered on our gardening jeans. πŸ™‚

  55. Fun post, Frances! It would be nice if we had that sort of disposable income (well, for a few days, anyway) but I’m also with you on the doing it ourselves and as we can. Mind you, if that pink muhly grass would grow here, I’d probably PAY quite happily to have a swath of it like yours in my garden. But alas, it does not, so I’ll just gently drool and sigh and enjoy from afar…

    Thanks Jodi, so nice to see you! I agree with you, having loads of cash might get old, for the most satisfying thing about gardening is seeing small things become big things. πŸ™‚

  56. Pingback: Using More of What Works | Fairegarden

  57. maureen says:

    Frances, BEAUTIFUL! Love reading about the comments of the workmen….I have funny experiences with a several workmen who come to give me estimates or do work..one owner of a window washing company, sat down on my porch (who was a master gardener himself) and was in awe of my plants. He said he really did not want to leave! Several who come to oour house leave with cuttings, and small plants I pull up for them. LOL -Gardeners do this …. Question,,,did you make the Athena square in the last picture here???
    Thanks so much for sharing your plants and adventures. They are so fun to read about.

    Thanks, Maureen. Your garden must be very beautiful indeed! Some of our workman brought plants to me and were given plants. I don’t want to give the wrong impression that they all were like Mr. Brock! HA As for dear Athena, I did not make her. She was purchased at a Smith and Hawken store in Houston when we lived in Texas in the late 1990’s. I believe she is meant to be a keystone above a window or door, but she does a very good job of protecting the Daylily Hill corner.

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