Plant Shopping In Your Own Garden

It has been mentioned before that I am a tightwad of the highest degree. Penny pinching is in my Scottish ancestry. Wasting anything, but especially money is painful, a downright sin, to my way of thinking. Now don’t get me wrong, I like to spend on quality items, or can’t live withouts, like bulbs, for instance. But to get the garden ever closer to meeting the vision requires swaths of plants. Large numbers of purchased, potted plants, by the hundreds if not thousands, like the installations of Piet Oudolf and friends require is out of our budget realm. Above: Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ backed by pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris nearing perfection. Both began life here as a couple of purchased pots.

But be not disheartened, fellow Oudolfiles, there is another way besides taking a second mortgage on the house to finance adding more of the plants that are doing well in your own particular climate and situation. That is key to a good design no matter where you live, use what works, what thrives, what has come out of these extreme weather events unscathed. Add more of those. Above: The Carex waterfall, click here_A River Runs Through It to read more about it if you wish. A small purchase, divided and allowed to seed, then spread.

Here in southeast Tennessee, now is the best time to add hardy perennials. As they keep screaming to us on television when it is time for the segment in the local newscast for the weather report and forecast, brought to you by the good folks at XYZ Nurservy, FALL IS PLANTIN’ TIME! It really is, too. I have bought violas and bulbs are on order, to be shipped at the proper planting time. But the favorite way to renovate, redesign and retrofit the garden is by shopping in the flower beds and gravel paths when the soil is moist and the plants have multiplied.

Seedlings and divisions can be moved now. I love to discover jewels and gems amongst the weeds and thuggish annuals like purple Perilla. It is cooler now and more time can be spent detailing a bed, seeing just what is in there under the violets and fall germinating weeds like henbit. Bits of the various sedums are ripe for the taking, snapping off tall stems to simply stick in the ground wherever their beauty would be an improvement. They will root easily and be nice sized by spring. Above: Sedum ‘Matrona’.

Ground covers can spare some bits to grow even more full next year and the bits can be replanted to jazz up pathways and also help keep the weeding to a minimum. Weeds love bare earth, so be sure to cover any bare spots with plants of your choosing. We had forgotten about the ornamental oreganos already growing here until seeing them used in some photos of Oudolf gardens. Golden oregano was added to the front raised planter last fall and has filled in nicely. The drought did not faze it and bulbs have grown up through it easily. Above: Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’ with Colchicum ‘Violet Queen’.

The darker Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’ was purchased soon after we moved to this house, from KMart, back when Martha Stewart, or her staff, had a say in the plants they carried there. It was stuck along the side of the garage and totally forgotten as the Hellebores colonized the space through wanton seeding over time. After seeing this same cultivar in use by Oudolf, we looked under the leathery Hellebore foliage and happily found the oregano growing well, totally hidden. Rooted bits were added along the shed walkway to fill in between the stepping stones that are always a weeding nightmare. Pieces of Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ were stuck along the edge, mimicking the design seen in the Piet book. Volunteers of Salvia coccinea were transplanted there to add some vibrant flower color and hopefully self sow. And all of it was free.

These are just an example of some of the useful plants found by plant shopping right here at home. I hope you will be inspired to go shopping in your own gardens, too. But if you are too quick to deadhead, or mulch too heavily, are more worried about your garden space looking, gasp, tidy, seedlings might be hard to come by. Nature’s way of plant propagation is neither neat nor tidy at all, but works brilliantly with no human help. Embrace those plants that are happy enough to make babies if you just back off and let them be. Ease off in the neatfreakiness and embrace some free plants. Scatter those spent and well dried flower heads that you have allowed to mature on the plants. Look at the crowns of your favorite perennials, like daylilies, that are ready to keep on giving. Hemerocallis should be divided every five years anyway for best blooming. Don’t forget, fall is plantin’ time! It makes a tightwad heart swell near to burstin’.

Continuing this theme:
Shopping for Plants in Your Own Garden-Continued


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25 Responses to Plant Shopping In Your Own Garden

  1. Carol says:

    I like that last line about your heart swells to bursting. I agree, a little messiness in the garden today means more plants in the garden tomorrow. Just beware of those weeds. They are the cheap crap you want to get rid of. Fall is also the time to pull them out!

    Thanks Carol. The more I learn about gardening, the more I understand how messy is a good thing. We are on the Henbit patrol here right now. It looks cute when small, but gets soooo large in spring and seeds like sand on the seashore.

  2. Layanee says:

    Fall is eluding me here which is good since there is so much to do in the garden. Keep it warm!

    Warmth, please hang around at Layanee’s! There, hope that helps.

  3. Nicole says:

    Love that first pic. I propagate plants all the time as they are super expensive on my island.

    Hi Nicole, thanks. I am glad to hear you follow the wisdom of shopping in your own garden.

  4. Dave says:

    You’re right about the time to move and transplant! I’ve been doing a bit of that lately. I had to move the daylilies you gave us a while back to a more visual location. They were getting crowded out by mint, a peach tree, and a Sweet Autumn clematis! Great combination right?

    Hi Dave, thanks for joining in the conversation. Those were Pardon Me, a bit shorter in stature than most daylilies. They need to be in front of that great combination!

    They’ve done well here. I divided them once so others were visible even while the overcrowded ones were not. Great flowers!

    Glad to hear it, Dave!

  5. Now go play in the yard 🙂

    Hi Emily, yes to that!

  6. My Kids Mom says:

    I have a friend whose landscaper comes twice a year to throw out all previous plants and replace them. I’ve gotten on her good side I guess, because she calls me to let me know that the pickings are now available! I cannot stand to see a good plant tossed in the trash!

    Wow, Jill, I was upset there for a minute until you got to the part where you go and rescue the free plants!

  7. Marcia says:

    How right you are about shopping amongst your own plants. And thanks for the tip about transplanting sedum. I will try that because I’m really enjoying the Autumn Joy now and want to have it in other spots for next year. How easy you make it sound. I have other seedling volunteers out there too that I’ve got decide where to move: foxglove, black eyed susans, and cone flowers.

    Hi Marcia, thanks for adding here. Sedums are among the easiest to plants to propagate since they root wherever any part touches the soil. It sounds like you have lots of good stuff to throw into your home shopping cart. Good luck!

  8. A post after my own heart! This is exactly why we invested in the greenhouse this year. I’m a tightwad too, and hate spending almost $9 for a 1 gallon plant! It make my hand tremble just reaching for my wallet. We have over 7 acres, I’d be in the poor house landscaping this place in the first week! I occasionally buy one plant I love because I know it will set seed, or I can propagate it, or divide it in a year or two, and make my $9 go further. Last year I bought some native wallflowers from a plant sale, but I didn’t pick the plants in bloom, I chose the ones with the most seed pods 😉 Here though we’re also blessed with a lot of native plants I’d love to propagate and divide. Native lilies, monkeyflowers, ferns, wild roses etc, and I hope the greenhouse will facilitate that. I even buy landscape flats for $20, like thyme, or trailing rosemary, and divide the flat into 40 or so individual plants! Can’t beat .50c a plant! I’m cheap LOL 😛 I think shopping in your own garden is the best place to shop of all though. Here, if I plant you and you die, you’re gone. If I plant you and you survive, you will be propagated, repeatedly, and planted again!

    Thanks CV. We are definitely of the same mind! I have killed a few things, trying to divide too soon, or it was something that should not be split up in the first place, but the number of free plants, including the huge stand of pink muhly grass is proof of tightwad success here. We have less than an acre, but it is all garden and paths, a lot of space to fill. Now that it is filled, I am trying to have some sort of dee-zine to it. I like your way of thinking.

  9. Cathy says:

    You’ve given me some great ideas…. I never realized it was so easy to root sedum, and that is one I will defintiely try. I have a small patch of Purple Emperor that I would like to expand. I seem to have more luck with those kinds of projects in spring. I think our very harsh (sometimes) winters makes it hard for newly rooted plants to survive, even with a protective layer of mulch. So that is going on my work list for spring!

    Thanks Cathy, for joining in. Purple Emperor is such a pretty color, but is floppy sometimes and I can’t really tell if it wants full sun or some shade here. I have found sticking a whole bunch of stems close together make for a better show, they sort of hold each other more upright. Good luck with your shopping!

  10. Kay Jones says:

    I read one time the advice to pinch back sedums to make them bushier (which works well, by the way.) Anyhow, at the time our only sunny bed backed onto dry woods (the bed was only sunny in the morning.) I tossed the pinched off stems in the woods, and lo and behold, they all rooted! Now I toss in the flower bed itself.
    Incidentally, we were in southern middle Tennessee, transplanted now (along with some plants) to the northern Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

    Hi Kay, thanks for adding to the conversation here. Those sedums, they just want to grow! That is some pretty scenery where you have moved, drive through on the way to visit relatives in PA.

  11. Hi Frances,

    We don’t really have four distinct seasons here in Southern California, so Fall is still just as hot as Summer had been. However, I have spent a better time of this past weekend planting a large assortment of bulbs which I purchased from a discount retailer and I can’t see the results of my handiwork when Spring comes along. And let me assure you that I made a huge MESS so I’m glad that you too believe that it’s acceptable.

    By the way, I love your blog and I visit it frequently. I have also incorporated your link within my site as a valuable resource for my visitors. Would you be willing to return the favor by placing my link within your blogroll?



    Hi Hanna, thanks so much for the reminder about the blogroll addition. You are now on it. It is a massive beast, the blogroll, at this point and needs going through, maybe a good winter project. I appreciate your readership and support very much. We used to live in Orange County, mid-1980s, I understand the garden situation and lack of seasons.

  12. I do the same…it sure does save money. I like using some of my favorites to propagate for me and my friends and relatives.

    Hi Sage Butterfly, thanks for joining in. It is good to share, with yourself and others!

  13. Barbarapc says:

    Frances, so true. I’ve been embarrassed on occasion when I discovered some front and centre worthy plant hiding under something else – obviously planted far too close, or just grew too slowly to be noticed. It can be an absolute delight to find forgotten treasures, lovely little volunteers and plants that really need to be divided. It’s amazing how quickly I can fill those empty spots with the offshoots of plant tribes I’ve got in my own backyard.

    Hi Barbara, that sounds wonderful. The garden seemed so bare in the beginning, how would we ever fill it up? Now, over ten years later, there are plants everywhere. Now, to get them into some semblance of design or order…

  14. Nice job shopping from your yard! I do that some, and hope to more as my new natives grow large enough to divide. I’m hoping for some reseeding, too.

    Thanks Sue. I am glad to hear you do stay at home shopping. Those natives should oblige you soon!

  15. Greggo says:

    They also make great gifts. One day a stranger drove by as I was dividing a Yarrow and of course I gave her half the plant. That was fun.

    So true, Greggo! I have given many a boxload of lamb’s ear to people driving by who admire it. Sharing is a good thing.

  16. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I wouldn’t exactly be called a tight wad but shopping in one’s own garden for plants is just wise because we buy what we like and then when an occasion arrises that we can use something in another place why buy it when it is already here? It not only saves money but you know the plant will grow in your garden and if it is growing it likely needs to be thinned. I just hate to throw a perfecly good plant into the compost. Yay to plant propogation in one’s own garden.

    HA Lisa, my husband would snort to think of me as a tightwad, little does he know! Wise is the word, for all the reasons you name. And you don’t have to change out of muddy garden clothes to go to the store!

  17. Rose says:

    I’m a tightwad, er, conservative shopper, too, Frances, and am always looking for ways to stretch my garden budget. No one would accuse me of being an aggressive deadheader, so there are lots of seeds I have been scattering. Hostas and daylilies in particular have multiplied here thanks to division. And once again, thanks for the original recommendation for ‘October Skies’–the three I planted this spring are loaded with blooms, and I’m so happy with them. But mine aren’t nearly as gorgeous as yours with the Muhly grass glowing behind them!

    Hi Rose, thanks for jumping in here. I am glad to hear you are a responsible shopper, too. October Skies is amazing. I can recommend that it be cut back by half in May to be bushier and have even more blooms.

  18. Jeff Deasy says:

    The photography is just gorgeous..wish I had a bit more room & sun in my urban garden so I could use all the great advice!

    Hi Jeff, thanks so much. Gardening in tight spaces is tough, we are lucky in our amount of land here. Sun is so important, but even small, shady gardens can provide free plants like hostas and ferns that can be divided. Gravel paths are excellent, too.

  19. Frugal is the new smart (I think that’s a Hyundai slogan). I agree and that’s why I love seeds and dividing plants.

    Off to Cabo for son’s wedding on the beach. sorry that I’ve not been around much. Have had my head down writing assignments for money and my own writing for fun.

    Hi Freda, thanks for stopping by. Glad that the frugal, aka tightwadedness is so en vogue right now. How fun the wedding sounds! Congratulations!

  20. Gail says:

    Frances, You always inspire whether it’s encouraging us to shop in our own gardens, try new plants or creating wonderful plant combinations. I love this quote from your post “I love to discover jewels and gems amongst the weeds and thuggish annuals…” It illustrates perfectly how well your eyes and heart see your garden. xxoogail

    Thanks Gail. That makes me so happy, to inspire other gardeners, cheer them on. I do love this garden, tis true.

  21. daricia says:

    shopping in your own garden is such a great idea and such a clever thing to post about, too. we have had rain this week and cooler temps are on the way — it is the perfect time to “shop.”

    Hi Darcia, thanks. We had that same rain and it is now cooler. I did quite a bit of shopping today.

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  23. Lovely colchicum. I hope it really is ‘Violet Queen’. It doesn’t look very violet, does it? I fear named varieties of colchicums often get mixed up in the trade.

    Thanks Kathy. This Colchicum was ordered from Brent and Becky’s bulbs. It is a darker color than this photo shows, but whatever it is, it is lovely and has returned faithfully.

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