Since moving into this house I have not planted much except shrubs,
trees and perennials. But now with a lot of the shrubs and trees in
place, at least in the front yard, I have areas where I know I can
plant bulbs and leave them undisturbed. And so I started ordering. I
bought mostly species tulips but also some crocus bulbs (both
spring/fall bloomers), fritillarias, alums, and some other stuff...
A lot were out of stock of course, but with what I am definately
getting from several different places, I will have a few hundred bulbs
to plant. Didn't cost very much though, I guess that is the upside to
ordering so late. Everything is on sale.
Plus I just sold a bunch of junk on eBay and to celebrate I bought a
big (9ft + in height with a nice spread) kousa dogwood and a much
smaller but very attractive sourwood tree. I won't tell you what I
paid for the dogwood. *shakes head* I am a sad, sad man.
I wanted to buy a Japanese maple to add to my rather pathetic maple
garden (three Japanese, a "flame" amur maple, a vine maple) but the
tree was about one hundred dollars more than the much larger dogwood
and equal-size sourwood combined. Along with all of those unusual and
lovely evergreens that are three hundred dollars at two feet of
height, all but the most common Japanese maples are just too expensive
for my taste. When you can buy a couple dozen shrubs for the price of
one shrub or tree, it just doesn't make sense to go for the single
item. Maybe when space becomes more of a commodity for me I can look
at buying one or two expensive plants per year or something. At this
point I am still starting new bamboo groves and planting trees that
will eventually be quite large.
Also, paghat is a horrible influence. I wouldn't have bought half of
what I did, had I not been able to look/read about a lot of the plants
on her site. Several searches brought up her site as the only result
with images or useful information. Tulipa vvendensky might have to
wait until next year though, as it looks/sounds marvelous but I have
only found one place that might have it and they are in Candada and I
do not wish to pay the extra costs for importing plants, so...
Sure it does! It just depends on your priorities. All gardens need a focal
point and that pricey little maple or unusual conifer may be just the item
to set off your garden and make it distnctive from those of your neighbors.
Personally, I'd rather invest my gardening budget on a single, distinctive,
large ticket item than a dozen plain Jane shrubs any day of the week. This
is also the same advice I give my design clients - put your money in the
significant items first - the specimen tree(s) or shrub(s). These typically
will be slower growing plants that will need more time to establish and
mature, but will already make a significant statement about your garden.
Then fill in with the ordinary stuff as budget permits.
A couple of things to consider: you don't necessarily need to get a large
one to begin with - even Japanese maples can put on considerable growth when
young. My seven year old Coral Bark maple (not the most unusual variety) is
now a dramatic 18 foot feature of my entry garden. Younger, smaller trees
tend to adapt to new planting situations easier, too. And these plants DO go
on sale, specially at the end of the growing season. Become a regular
nursery visitor and scout the nurseries in your area on a regular schedule.
And look for plant sales in the spring - garden clubs, botanical gardens and
even Master Gardener organizations often have spring sales where you can
find less common items at good prices. If possible, avoid ordering online or
by mail - one seldom gets bargain prices AND reasonable size by this method.
Come on ......tell us what you paid for this stunning kousa. Inquiring minds
want to know!!
pam - gardengal
My $0.02 ...
Get yourself a common maple seedling. One in a one gallon can/pot will do.
Perhaps a plain ordinary green maple that is much less expensive. Then
locate someone/someplace with the fancy maple you want and ask them for some
prunings whenever that tree gets pruned...hopefully during winter or very
early spring. Take the prunings and graft them onto your common maple about
3 - 6 inches above the ground. Care for it as you would any other plant and
voila...the maple you want! Of course it takes time - another clear case of
"time vs. money".
I have some large rhodies gotten in trade for gardening labor, they are
common ironclads & nothing rare; if I'd gone out & bought enormous rhodies
they would probably have been either species rhodies, or odder cultivars.
But they are quite wonderful even though just "standards"; & they were
easier to "risk" in an exposed area where I would never dared have
installed anything rare anyway. They adapted perfectly to semi-harsh
locations & I love their gnarly fat branches & evergreen leaves so they're
great even apart from their month of exceedingly flowery glory. Planted
amidst the freebie ironclads is a currant bush gotten as a bare-root for
the "come on special price!" of $2, & a stunted old wiegela that was
already on the property but which I "banished" to the exposed site to get
it out of an important garden, & a black elder gotten small but what a
fast grower that was. So over time the area has become less & less exposed
& increasingly packed with exiled plants, freebies, & things too large to
get into the yard anyway. After only three years, it's like a little
jungle or a million dollar garden though the most expensive stuff there in
terms of personal outlay of money are probably the bulbs, oddball alliums
& cammas & fragrant narcissi. So some pretty great gardening can be done
on the cheap.
But one of the first things we installed when we moved to this house was a
fairly large Black Swan beach. It cost a hell of a lot. But when we were
tree-shopping I couldn't get it out of my mind & eventually I tricked
myself into believing that if I spent a thousand dollars on four trees,
the AVERAGE price was only $250 each, which ain't much for stuff ten to
eighteen feet tall. A couple years later I was sorting through the
wicker-box of saved garden tags, & found the Black Swan tag-- I'd
forgotten what a major splurge it had been that day & most of the cost was
for just one tree. But as Pam points out below, sometimes a really
remarkable focal point for a garden is simply WORTH a great deal more than
a wall of mixed shrubs no one of which dominates the field of vision. That
Black Swan is just eye-popping gorgeous in its swan-like elegance, it
nearly reaches the top of our two story house, it changes colors
seasonally from green & bronze in spring, to summer purple-black, autumn
red & green & brown, then reveals its twisty limbs for winter, & it gets
hairy beechnuts to boot -- it's been endlessly interesting to observe in
all seasons. So I've always felt it was one of the SMARTEST "splurges" I
ever made as few things I've blown money on in my life have repaid me this
persistently for years on end. Visitors always remark upon it, & more
than one visitor has afterward gone on quests to find one for their own
yards. I love my hornbeam too, but no one ever says, good lord, that's the
most beautiful hornbeam I've ever seen. The Black Swan is like an
We all have priorities & for me the garden rates pretty high; I'd like a
newer computer with a vast memory but I bought plants instead; my CD
player no longer works on shuffle, but it works, so I'd rather have
another plant than a new CD player. Not that even plants don't present
major limitations as to what I'm willing to spend. I'd love to have some
of the really rare very strangely flowering hepaticas I've seen -- tiny
perennials for several hundred dollars each -- but I just can't, I haven't
prioritized perennials as something I'm willing to spend even the grocery
money on, & I do settle for "regular" hepaticas which are unusual enough
to score pretty high in their own right. But back when we were busily
installing trees, we knew we only had room for a few things that were
really large & eventually we would never again be able to add another
tree, so a few that were pricy honestly do average out over time.
I'd say if you love the hell out of the bargain dogwood you got instead of
the intended fancy maple, then you made a fine choice, there's certainly
no reason to regret a choice merely for being affordable. The regret would
be if you can't get the maple you passed over out of your mind & you
realize it really was something you'd've enthused over to the highest
degree for many years. Unless you're planting acres & acres it's not like
you'd be needing to buy expensive trees every year as regularly as
annuals. They are going to be permanent in your landscape, add value to
your home, & reward you every time you step out the door. If faced with
such choices in the future you could always play the "trick" on yourself
of whenever selecting a handful of inexpensive things, add one more thing
you've dearly wanted but was expensive, then average them out so no one
thing seems costly.
I play that trick on myself so often I've learned to go home first before
over-spending, & if the next day I'm still so eager, then it's probably a
good choice rather than momentary lust. I've only once let something "get
away" that someone else bought before I could make the decision, it was a
dwarf libani ceder that was about six feet tall then with a strong bend
grew another eight feet horizontal with the ground with weeping branches
the whole length, a "curtain tree". I've never seen another exactly like
it. I should've planted it at the edge of the sunken garage & it would've
reached across the top of the roof so perfectly. I've seen other trees
(cherries & ceders) trained horizontally, but they always look inferior or
kitschy, & I'm only reminded how perfect was the fat-trunked specimen I
was too cheap to grab when I had the chance.
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
I have bought a few of what I would call specimen plants, but they
were not as expensive as the evergreens and japanese maples that I am
always looking at. And I am guessing far less expensive than your
One was a weeping yaupon holly, which I absolutely adore. And they
tend to get rather large and are not heavily planted in this area yet,
unlike the standard and dwarf yaupon hollies which everyone has ten
of. Another was an Acer palmatum 'Seiryu', one of my favorite
Japanese Maples. I paid $200.00 for the tree which had a height of
about eight feet and spread of about six feet. They are slow growing
and never reach any great size, so this was a good size to start with.
It will grow some for me but it already makes a bold statement.
I am always talking myself out of buying a new printer or something
like that in order to instead buy plants. Although after I have
planted all that I want in my front yard, or at least close to it, I
will probably drastically slow down on my plant buying.
Part of why I hate to spend a lot on single plants is because I live
on a 2.5 acre lot and when I moved in there was almost nothing. And I
like a LOT of plants. I want to attract animals for one thing, and it
is working. I rarely saw anything the year I moved in, but now I
reguarly see oppossums, squirrels, racoons and other small animals. I
have seen lizards and garden snakes this year! As I type this there
are two great horned owls (99% sure that is what they are) sitting in
a bamboo grove and hooting at each other. The downside is that these
same two owls wake me up EVERY morning. Assuming I am actually
asleep, it is currently 3:00 am and I am awake, but anyway.
And the land rolls down into a valley in back and there are so many
ways to view the property. A street behind mine is higher and offers a
great view of my back yard, especially in winter. And approaching my
street from the west you are also higher and can see my front yard
from a distance. It is just begging to be planted heavily. Heh.
The house has a circle driveway and there is a sidewalk in front of
the house. So there is a nice half-circle of ground between the
driveway and sidewalk. That is the one place that I intend to
definately place a few more expensive items.
I planted three large 'October Glory' red maples the year I moved in,
these are close to the driveway, leaving lots of room between them and
the road. At each corner on the sidewalk-side, I have planted Fosteri
Hollies. I am using them as shrubs now but when they have some size I
intend to trim them up and use them as trees. Some distance towards
the center of the half-circle is a contorted filbert, not the rarest
of plants in general but I never see any around here. I intend to
plant something else that really stands out on the other side of the
half circle in the same spot.
The center of the entire area is reserved for a large jet-black and
heavily cratered sandstone that is in a field on a family property. I
just need to find someone to move it. It's quite large, I would guess
it weighs around 1500lbs although I have no real idea. Could be much
more or less. There are two smaller stones (say 400 pounds each)
which I will put to each side of the large one, angled away from the
large rock and towards the sidewalk. Behind the large rock I have
considered planting an unusual japanese maple and then planting a
couple of the low growing and wild looking fir cultivars that a local
nursery has for $300.00+ or something along those lines. I have also
considered planting something like a weeping blue atlas cedar behind
the boulder, but I already have two different blue spruce trees on one
side of the yard - one a tall narrow plant and the other short and
fat. Having already made the mistake of buying too many variegated
plants and having to move most of them around due to how distracting
they can be, I would hate to have too many blue plants...
We don't have much in the way of garden clubs and the like in this
area... yet. Although the first botanical garden is finally getting
I have never seen any trees on sale at any of our local nurseries, in
any season. They might have them, but I haven't been lucky enough to
discover the sales. The only things I see on sale are perennials or
hte occasionally ratty shrub. Of course Wally-World and the home
improvement stores put everything on sale at one point or another, but
rarely do I find anything particularly interesting there.
Without looking for the tag to check, I think it was $269.00. Which
may or may not be a bad price. I am very fond of the tree though, so
I guess it doesn't matter.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.