i am completely hopeless

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...
Oh well.
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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
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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".

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Lawrence Akutagawa wrote:

Are there are decent online tutorials on grafting?
--
Jean B.

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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"; &amp 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 affectionate friend.
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.
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snipped-for-privacy@netscapeSPAM-ME-NOT.net (paghat) wrote:

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 beech.
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.
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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 started.
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.
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