True Confessions of a Plantaholic
Can anyone spare a dime (or more, on account of inflation) for a new pair of garden shoes? I spent all my money on plants.
For years I’ve kept my addiction to plants, if not under wraps, then moderately in check. I bet anyone who has read my blog posts would never suspect I had this weakness. I bet even my closest friends don’t know.
Now, standing in a garden still new to me, I was like the cliched kid in a candy shop. This much I knew: Here was good, gritty mountain soil, moist but well drained and enriched with years of mulching. Lots of sun, with neat pockets of shade. An ocean of green. A big pile of compost in the back (who gets that lucky?). And a climate that does not roast plants (though it might freeze them to death in winter).
What experiments I could try! What perennials I could grow! Shrubs to attract wildlife! Wildflowers! Maybe even a vegetable or two! And lots of nurseries to indulge me. I immediately slid off any wagon I might have casually considered jumping on.
In my defense, I have a lot of enablers. Specifically, our children who gave me gift cards and promised help and plants from their gardens, some of which had multiplied from plants I had given them. How could I turn my back on such good will? I certainly didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
And there was even more money in the pot because I was done paying home heating bills for a while.
Confidentially, I love neat and orderly, but somehow I wind up with spangle. While I enjoy the clean lines, the order and the simplicity of our new garden, I just had to liven things up a bit, don’t you think? Everyone agreed with me and even promised help (more enabling).
This time there would be no higgledy-piggledy scattershot activities, though. There would be control. Everything would be dutifully recorded in a little red notebook. (Well, you know how those resolutions go. . . Still, I did fairly well. . .
At the end of the season, people began asking how many plants I(we) planted. I was stunned. Were people beginning to suspect something?
Impossible! How could they? Just to show everyone that I am not a plant cuckoo, I have listed below my new plants, where they came from, and, for anyone who is interested, totals, too.
Caution: Unless you are a plant cuckoo (which I am not) you will find the next section very boring and can just skip to the totals below.
Some Plants I Dug from our Southern Garden
The prospective buyers of our house looked around our late summer jungle and said, Sure, dig up whatever you want. (They were probably thinking, Less for us to machete. They had already mentioned thinning.)
How could I resist? Favorites, many I could have easily found up here, were hastily dug and shoehorned, unlabeled, into pots. Steven packed them into his car (not big enough) for the trip to Connecticut, then transferred them into Susan’s car for overwintering in pots or in the ground here. (I wish now I had been less practical and more over-eager. I’m sure they would disagree!)
Shrubs: Quince ‘Crimson and Gold’, Patsy’s Weigela (outstanding cutting from a Master Gardener that I could never ID properly), Sinocalycanthus, Viburnum Carlesii (2), Pink Carpet Rose, Deutzias gracilis, ‘Chardonnay Pearls,’ and radicans, St. Johnswort, Pink Flowering Almond, Spireas ‘Gold Flame,’ Bridal wreath and ‘Shibori,’ Viburnum mariesii (gift from friends who grew it from a cutting taken from a plant I had grown from a cutting and given to them), Korean boxwood (2), Leucosceptrum stellipilum ‘October Moon’ (Japanese Shrub Mint), Clethra ‘Hummingbird,’ Hydrangeas, dwarf paniculata, Tuff Stuff,’ ‘Annabelle,’ (Joke’s on me. Annabelle is tough to grow well in eastern NC. I babied my cuttings for years, then discovered scads of plants from seed in the New Hampshire garden,)
Perennials: A dozen or more daylilies, a few hosta, peonies(2), amsonia, lenten rose (2), phlox, autumn fern, boltonia, liriope variegata, Joe Pye Weed, and a few others, nameless, tucked into assorted, already stuffed pots.
Slide Show of Plants from our Southern Garden
Lisa and Steven’s Garden in Connecticut
Lisa and Steven are two of the enablers. Over the years we’ve had fun watching their garden grow into a lovely natural oasis for wildlife, some of whom often feel a little too much at home. We have given them plants from cuttings grown in our garden, multipliers of which they are giving back to us, along with some that I couldn’t grow in the south. They’ve invited us to raid their garden any time.
Shrubs: Deutzia radicans (2), dwarf lilac from runners (2), pink spirea
Perennials: bleeding heart, rudbeckia, rose campion, dragons blood sedum, white potentilla, penstemon ‘Husker’s Red,’(2) perilla, persicaria, purple butterflyweed (2), lady’s mantle, autumn joy sedum
Slide Show of Lisa and Steven’s Garden
I want a colorful natural garden like Lisa and Steven’s.
Susan and Mike’s Garden in New Hampshire
Another pair of enablers. They have an extensive collection of plants spilling over a large hillside garden. Susan may have inherited her weakness for plants from her mother. She is my garden guru and my most consistent enabler, ferrying me from nursery to nursery because, from experience, she knows them all so well.
The contributions from their garden look low because Susan is holding back temporarily, not wanting to overwhelm me with her planned avalanche. The promised plants will come in 2023 so are not counted in this list.
Shrubs and Vines: Viburnum ‘Michael Dodd,’ apricot shrub roses (2), Sweet Autumn Clematis, Aronia.
Perennials: a dozen or so columbines, Ironweed ‘Iron Butterflies’(2), several Missouri sundrops, 15 or so allium ‘Millenium’.
Also, milkweed, butterflyweed and columbine seeds. These are not counted, since they are only hopefuls.
Slide Show of Susan and Mike’s Garden
I want a summer garden like Susan and Mike’s.
Marie’s Garden in Massachusetts
Susan and Marie have been friends for a long time. When you spend some time in Marie’s shade garden you step away from the busy world and into a quiet woodland glen. Not simply a collection of hostas and ferns, this garden is years in the making, spacious and serene, with a natural mix of plants under native trees.
It’s a garden that invites lingering and learning, for Marie has a comfortable seating area and dedicated nursery beds for special plants. She gave me 5 pretty yellow hosta with green bands and generously promised more of whatever I would like.
Slide Show of Marie’s Garden
I want a shade garden like Marie’s. (Except — woodland plants, with no graceful tree cover, set against the brick wall of our house for shade? The vibes don’t seem to jibe. But there’s the challenge.)
A Lovely Private Garden in New Hampshire
Open by invitation, the owner was hard at work in her garden when Susan and I visited, though she was happy to linger and talk with us. This immaculate garden rambles over a few acres, with lovely vistas and great varieties of plants. It has the feel of an arboretum.
Large truckloads of mulch were being brought in and spread during our two or more hours there, browsing and digging up plants to take with us. Yes, digging! Our hostess had generously supplied us with trowels and plastic bags and told us to go for it.
I am proud to report I took only four small plants that will surprise us next spring.
Slide Show of Garden
I want a garden like an arboretum, with vistas and fine shrubs.
Scenic Nursery in Raymond NH
A lovely nursery in a scenic rural area with reasonable prices. It’s a great place to browse.
Shrubs: Weigela ‘Minuet,’ Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’
Perennials: Maiden pink ‘Brilliant,’ Unlabeled fern that spreads, Salvia ‘May Night,’ Lamium ‘Herman’s Pride,’ Bee Balm ‘Marshall’s Delight,’ Coreopsis ‘Jethro Tull,’ Mullein ‘Temptress Purple,’ and Lavender.
Devreindt Farm in Goffstown NH
A farmstand beyond all farmstands, with an array of vegetables, annuals, perennials, and a wide range of shrubs and trees, and great ice cream cones, too.
Shrubs: Weigela ‘Red Prince’ (I think, I can’t find the tag), Hydrangea ‘Little Quick Fire,’ (impulse buys, what isn’t?)
Perennials and Annuals: Yellow Siberian Iris, Yellow chrysanthemums (3), six packs of the following: Shasta Daisy ‘Crazy Daisy,’ Dwarf Sweet William, Dahlia ‘Fresco Mix,’ Gallardia ‘Arizona Sun’ and ‘Arizona Apricot,’ Lupine Mix, Red Columbine, Nicotiana, mixed (mostly yellow)
Audubon Center in Concord NH
It’s always fun to visit an Audubon Center and even more fun when Bagley Pond Perennials, a propagator of natives, is holding a plant sale there.
Native Perennials: Tiarella (3), blue flag iris, yellow coneflower (Ratbiden pinatta), Slender mountain mint and clustered mountain mint, Smooth blue aster, Golden alexander
Native columbine seeds jumped into my pockets, too, not counted.
Sisters Plant Sale in Reading MA
This is an annual spring event put together by volunteers, with proceeds going to charity. Of all our nursery visits, this was a true kid-in-a-candy-shop event. My kind of prices, downright reasonable, wide selection so I could think about experimenting. I broke the bank.
Shrubs and Vines: Chinese wisteria, purple, (I know it’s thug, but what fun in springtime) Golden Rain tree, Viburnum tomentosum, Kerria ‘Easter Rose,’ Clematis virginiana (Virgin’s Bower)
Perennials: Jack in the Pulpit, Geranium ‘Karmina,’ Heuchera hybrid, Achillea ‘Cerise Queen,’ Stachys, Phlox ‘Jeana,’ Anemone virginiana (tall thimbeweed), Ostrich fern, Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Kline,’ Clustered bellflower, Virginia Mountain mint, Hellebore ‘Tropical Sunset,’ ‘Wedding Crasher,’ ‘French Kiss,’ all in the Honeymoon series, Brunnera macrophylla, Astilbes ‘Vision in Pink,’ ‘Montgomery,’ and ‘Deft,’ Euphorbia, Iris x robusta ‘Gerald Darby,’ Trillium erecta,
Mason Hollow Nursery in Mason NH
A wonderful nursery for hostas and other interesting plants, reasonably priced and well grown. The owners are extraordinarily knowledgeable and have a large following of fans. They are also stewards of the environment.
Young woodies: Clethra Rosea, Spice Bush, Hepticodium, Redbud ‘Pink Pearl’, Fringe Tree
Perennials: Spigelia ‘Little Redhead’, three Cimicifugas, ‘Pink Spike,’ ‘Shade Runner,’ and ‘Rubifolia,’ Northern Maidenhair and Jurassic Gold ferns, Baptisia ‘Lemon Meringue,’ Glaucidium, Hylomecum japonicum, Disporum, Aruncus dioicus
Frizzhome Gardens in Bedford NH
Rows and rows of perennials, annuals and vegetables on long tables, a wonderful variety that I have just begun to tap.
Perennials: Betony ‘Hummolo,’ Stokes Aster, ‘Peachies Pick,’ Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum ‘Luna’),
Annual: Mexican Heather, 2 four-packs)
Rolling Green in Greenland NH
A fine nursery further north than most we visited with high quality plants and prices to match. I purchased a beautiful magnolia with yellow blooms, reduced because it was a holdover from last season. I could not consider other plants because there was little room left in the car and the plant budget for the day had already been exceeded.
Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland, MA
Luscious nursery with a wide variety of plants, all well grown, like spending time in a botanical garden. Not inexpensive but I had a generous gift card and didn’t mind adding some
Shrubs: Spirea ‘Glow Girl,’ Azalea ‘Linda Stuart’ (3), Pieris ‘Red Mill’ (2), Viburnums ‘Brandywine’, ‘Winterthur,’ ‘Mariesii,’ ‘Burkwoodii.’ Kalmia ‘Elf’ (2), Dwarf chokecherry (Aronia ‘Low Scape Mound’)
Black Forest Nursery in Boscawen NH
Considered one of the top ten nurseries in the state with a wide variety of interesting plants. We went later in the season and took advantage of some nice sales
Shrubs: Andromeda ‘Mountain King,’ Aralia ‘Sun King’
Perennial: Lavender ‘Dilly Dilly’
Stratham Nursery in Stratham NH
A pleasant nursery with good sales later in the summer
Shrubs: Rose ‘Red Drift’ (2)
Home Depot in Manchester NH
A nice selection and good sales, especially end-of-season bulbs
Shrubs: Scotch Broom ‘Pomona,’ and an azalea I later learned was a relative of southern-grown gumpo azaleas, so I gave it to Lisa and Steven, a zone warmer in Connecticut (not included in the count)
Perennials: Liriope ‘variegata,’ Salvia ‘Carodonna,’ (3 plants in a big pot that I divided and planted separately, does that count as one or three?)
West Manchester High School, Manchester, NH
We came to their sale to support the horticultural program that teaches students the basics of propagation and caring for seedlings.
Annuals and Vegetables: Three-packs each of Cosmos, Grape Tomatoes, Nasturtium, Green Beans
Hannaford Supermarket, Pinardville, NH
An impulse buy: The lovely label on Clematis ‘Pink Fantasy’ reminded me of my ‘Nelly Moser’ vining over azaleas in our southern garden. The jury is still out on how satisfactory the color of the blooms will be.
Ocean State Job Lots in Hooksett and Stratham NH
A big box store with great bargains on seasonal plants and bulbs
Perennials: Five purple and bright pink asters
Lowe’s in Manchester NH
Some good sales midseason.
Shrubs: Azalea ‘Golden Lights,’ Mugo pine,
Ace Hardware in Goffstown NH
For a local hardware store, Ace carries an extensive and interesting offering of plants
Shrub: White rhododendron ‘Cunningham’
Annuals: six-pack of red geraniums that made a splash this summer
I must count the bulbs we planted, too
Iris reticulata: 25
(Sadly, only after the soil had frozen did I discover half a dozen daffs that I missed, well camouflaged by soil and mulch. Now they are covered by snow. We shall call that our little experiment.)
Trees, Shrubs and Vines: 70
Annuals and Vegetables: 44
The grand Total: 646
Note: I did not count any seeds collected and dispersed, nor those still languishing in an assortment of containers. Nor did I count plants that we moved from their original garden locations, a job that is not yet complete.
Now, you are probably wondering where in the world could we put all those plants we brought into our garden. Which ones are thriving? Which ones hit the ground and never rose again? Which ones haven’t yet made up their minds whether they like it here?
Well, all that is a story for another day.