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deep pockets

Posted by campanula UK Cambridge (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 25, 12 at 8:22

Idly perusing paeonies on Kelways site, I chanced upon one being sold for �400. Not sure of the exchange rate but this is serious money whatever the currency. Naturally, my order of a mere �9.20 Catharina Fontgyn (or something like?) made me wonder just how much would you pay for a plant? Being a cheapskate (and penniless gardener), most of my garden has been raised from seeds and cuttings but every so often, the bank cards are stretched somewhat.....but never to the tune of of �400. Owning up to spending rather too much on a bloody acer (which is now gracelessly expiring as I speak), who has had to hide the awful truth from significant others? Wait anxiously for the bank statements? Lie?
Not counting multiple rose orders, do tell of your extravagances - it will undoubtable make many of us all feel a lot better (or envious), hearing of other frivolous spendthrifts in our midstBy the way, whats with the weird symbols instead of pounds or dollars? Is gardenweb being a little mealy mouthed about money as well as dubious swear words?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: deep pockets

When I first discovered hellebores, and that they absolutely LOVE my mostly shady garden, and start blooming here in Dec/Jan, and keep the flowers almost all summer, I did buy several for about 30 US dollars a piece (trying to get around the GW fear of money symbols). I thought that was extremely extravagant. Then they all did wonderfully, without any care at all, except taking off the dead old leaves once a year, and a little water during our usual 8 month drought. So, a dilema - I had 5 other places I wanted to plant LOTS more of them, but at that price I was hesitating......Then I got an add from Brecks for "5 for 25 US dollars", and was off to the races. The ones I get from Brecks (I just ordered 5 more last night) have been lovely, and have performed just as well as the 30 dollar ones, so I keep ordering them. I put in 5-10 new ones each year. They are all blooming right now, and look fantastic.

The only other extravagance I can remember is spending several hundred US dollars for hundreds of daffodils, when I didn't know what I was doing, or that large flower daffodils do not come back in our climate (too warm).

Jackie


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If I were to add up what we spend over a year's time on plants it would be sort of embarassing. It's our biggest pleasure and I spend very little on other things like clothing. We drive shabby cars etc. The most I've spent on an individual plant is 80 dollars for a tree, a Parrotia Persica. It's a nice big specimen and was meant to celebrate our anniversary.


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Hi Campanula: I assume you meam peony, right? I was lusting after Myrtle Gentry, the most fragrant peony. In the spring they were sold for $40, then in the summer, the price went down to $15. I was busy with roses, and waited until the last minute in October to order peonies: most fragrant ones were sold out, and I got stucked with a tiny-wimpy Myrtle Gentry root for $15 (and had to pay shipping cost plus other plants to make it a $40 mininum order).

In November my hubby went to Sam's Club and bought me peonies less than $2 each. Timing is everything. Someone even got a dozen peony plants in pots for $1 each from Lowe's (local store) in late fall. My neighbor was throwing out her peonies, but I didn't want them since they are not fragrant.

If you want peonies in the future, I'm be happy to share once mine multiply. The roots are small, so it's easy to ship.


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  • Posted by seil z6 MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 25, 12 at 12:21

I have wanted a fern leaf peony for years. There's one local nursery that carries them. They're tiny 4 inch twigs in a 3 inch pot and they want 60.00 dollars for them! I just can't bring myself to spend that on something that small and iffy. If they were a decent size plant that I was sure would make it I might go that high but not for basically a rootling. 60 dollars is like my garden budget for the year most times. If I get that I can't get anything else, like annuals for the pots, and then what if it doesn't grow? Nope, I'll do without.

I don't have to hide or lie about what I've spent because I'm very frugal anyway and he knows it. But I do like to take him with me to the nurseries because he ALWAYS spends more than I would, lol! And he likes to pick out roses!


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It's not so much what is spent on an individual plant that's a problem. It's the multiplication. I do not fib to DH. He knows an addiction when he sees one, and I am not irresponsible.

Seil, Do not regret your decision on the Paeonia tenuifolia. Many years ago I got the double one for $25 which was expensive at the time. It died 3 or 4 years later. It only lasted a year for a friend. I have since read that they are hard to keep. It was lovely but that doesn't matter if they won't stay with you. If I ever read of someone who was successful with it and if they shared their method and if I were willing to follow the procedure, I would probably buy it again but that's a lot of "ifs".

Cath


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Years ago, a nursery about half an hour away was selling good sized, bareroot peonies. Most of them were astonishingly cheap - Sarah Bernhardt was $3, Festiva Maxima was $2 - that kind of thing. Then there was something completely different. A peony named Coral Fay. Not only was it about 5 times more expensive, but the divisions were noticably smaller. Curious, I went home, asked Google what was going on, and Google told me it was a fernleaf hybrid. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I went back and got one. I haven't regretted that trip at all, though I have found out the downside of fernleaf peonies. They go into dormancy early. The species dies back amazingly early, and this hybrid starts browning out in late September.


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I spend too much on plants, that is quite true; but my real weakness is books. I probably check a hundred books out of the library every year, but in addition I buy at least half that many because I want to own them in hardcopy Forever. Preferably in hardback. Actual cloth bindings are nice, and so is good quality paper.

Thank heavens for used book vendors! A good number of the books I buy are used.


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Hi Rosefolly: I'm a bookworm too, and enjoyed the book you recommended by Field Roebuck very much. Out of our HUGE property tax bill, only $200 goes to the library. It's a good deal considering the amount of books, video games, and DVD's we borrow.


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Jackie, have a rummage round underneath your hellebores - there should be lots of little seedlings right now. They can be lifted, potted up for a season and then planted back out - you need never buy another.

The most expenbsive paeonies are the ITOH or intersectional ones - way out of my price range. However, next most expensive are the many species - which can be grown easily from seed. Sure, they take a few years - it will be 2 years before you even see a shoot (although a root will have formed some time before. They need 2 seasons of chilling but they are the classic sow and forget them seeds. Nice big seeds too. I grow P.emodi and P.mascula (I lost my lovely P.cambedessii) and am waiting on P.moloscewitcheii (only different spelling, right) and some P.rockii hybrids (only 3 years to go)
mmm, yep, paeonia tenuifolia - used to be seen a lot but they are really rare now.
Pamela, I agree, I definately would not mind spending good money on trees, especially great specimens like Parrotia Persica (I have a major weakness for sorbus - oldest son called Rowan) and have also spent the biggest sum (60 pounds)on a tree - more of a bush, really - a lovely redbud, Cercis canadensis Forest Pansy....and the sodding thing got verticillium wilt and died!
Rosefolly, books, you bet. my garden library runs into thousands - every wall in every room is filled from top to bottom (cos my offspring have the book addiction badly too). They are great insulation and soundproofing though.
And hey ho for Abebooks.


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One of my local nurseries finally got in one of the nifty little river wattles from Australia, Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'. However the price was a bit steep for me at $39.95 for I think a 5 gallon size. That's a bunch of band size or bareroot roses for the same money, so I will wait until there is a 1 gallon size available for a smaller chunk of change. In the meantime, I'm happily ordering more and more roses....and other members of the Cousin Itt clan may be imported from Australia, particularly the lime green ones. Since nitrogen-fixing also comes with acacias, I figure they will make nice companion plants to roses.

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'


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I don't usually feel the need to cover up my expenditures, but several years ago I had just spent several hundred dollars on teas, and immediately somebody (I think Connie) had a sale. Feeling guilty, I had my sister write a check for my rose order and reimbursed her. Several days later I got an email confirming my order and my husband saw it. Busted!! So crime doesn't pay for me, but neither do I mention every single purchase I make. Ignorance is bliss. He might have a heart attack if he knew what I spend in a year on plants and seeds. So I'm really thinking of him if I don't mention all my rosey excesses.


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I am pretty chintzy when it comes to annuals and perennials that are available by seed. I frequent local garden club sales, buy end of season at Bluestone or bulb places, trade plants with friends.

It's in the purchase of roses that I find myself to be extravagant. My DH doesn't have a problem with any of the money I spend on plants or gardening. WhenI spent $40 on a 5 gallon limelight hydrangea, he thought I should have bought two. But he did look at me crosswise when I told him of yet another rose I'd found that I was thinking about ordering. But he was thinking of the 25 pots of unplanted roses outside and the cuttings I'm nursing on the deck, though, not the cost.


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Lately I haven't spent much on roses since I'm out of room, and instead have succumbed to the vastly more expensive passion of buying antique Chinese porcelain. I've never bought anything for myself that my husband doesn't know about. Just can't and won't do it.


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In the garden I have 2 expensive passions. Roses and Miniature Japanese Maple trees that dont exceed 6' when mature. They have split leaves which are frilly looking and range in shades of red from deep plum to a light peach. The roses get expensive because I get carried away and order too many of them. Now the Japanese Maples. Oh my goodness. I have one that costed $189. I try to justify it by saying it is the main focal point of the first garden visible when entering the property. Stuff and nonsence. Two summers ago, the neighbor's goat up-rooted it and ate 1/4 of the leaves. My darling sweetie noticed and immediately replanted it. No harm done....
I'm now finishing up this year's rose order. Looks to be about 20. Go figure a round even number... got to work on that and order another...hohoho.
Peonies you asked about...got a box of them at Costco...tiny roots about 3 years ago. Finally this past summer they bloomed. They are so cute. So far six survived from the original Costco box. I'll probably order one of the bi-colored ones. I just wish that they would repeat bloom...now if they did...oh my.
Oh do I hide the invoices from Gary...no. Sometimes I see him look a tad concerned when the mailman starts making the spring drop offs. I just smile and admit that I got carried away. It's good for a chuckle and a hug...like that.
Jeannie


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I am the cheapskate in the family. I only buy roses which are fairly cheap. Of course, sometimes I import quite a few from France or Germany but they are often cheaper than locally bought roses even including the shipping.

My husband bought a rare Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph' in October for 103 USD or 66 GBP which may be our most expensive individual plant so far.


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Mariannese, I agree with you 100%. There was a study back then that showed men spend more money than women, since women spend money on small stuff that are cheaper. Men tend to buy bigger-ticket item, like a sport car, or a pricy collectible piece. My hubby spends WAY-MORE than me on his hobbies (music and video games).

Plants last a long time, and they are a heritage for our children and benefiting the earth. When I plant something, it means I leave something beautiful behind after I die. There was a study done in urban and high-crime area where just by putting more trees in, there's a decrease in domestic violence. When I was working, just by taking a walk afer work and seeing plants and flowers was enough to release the stress.

It's hard labor putting in a rose garden, but if I think of the relief and delight that I give to pedestrians, it's worth it. When I was in junior high and walked a long way home, the ultimate delight of the day was walking by a house with a rose garden. I'm just returning the favor by creating my own garden by the sidewalk.


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  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 26, 12 at 11:26

My 'Cousin Itt's are doing only so-so. One is near dead and the other has not grown much at all. I gave them perfect spots, expected better. Still hoping, though.

My DH at one time would spend $300-$500 for a couple hours of airplane rental, so he sees me buying a $5 plant every once in a while and asks me why I don't buy more. Because there's no room and I can't take proper care of them all as it is. I did spend $30 on a 1" Agave that is very, very rare. It's 3" now and doing well and is still very, very rare.

The easiest way to limit plant purchases is to ask myself, "Do I have a spot in the ground for that? Do I have time to give it the care it deserves?" Since I rarely ever do, it keeps the problem in check. :)


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Oh, I never lie. I always confess, AFTER doing the deed, often slipping it into casual conversation and usually in proximity to food (men are very basic). 'Have you thought what you fancy for dinner and by the way, another half dozen roses just arrived'. I also manage to justify enormous nursery bills, being as they are for fruit (pies).


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I believe I have spent more on fruit trees, but the one that comes to mind is the striking variegated elephant ear I purchased two years ago.

It was 40 US and it took so long to arrive that I had actually called my credit card company to refute the charge. I had contacted the company several times with no response. (It is NOT the company linked below.)

When it arrived it was the size of a q tip and dry. It had slipped out of the place where they had taped it to the box. I darn near threw it away.

As an apology they included two other aroids that are still going strong.

But this one is a dazzler!

Here is a link that might be useful: Be dazzled


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This is a very sympathetic post. I too have the dual plant-book passion (sorry for the word, Suzy, but it's the correct one here!) and spend most of my money that doesn't go for necessities on them....and for plane tickets to Florida so my daughter and I can visit my family.
Actually, given how much it's possible to spend on individual plants, I'm impressed by the relative frugality I see here. Local nurseries offer old olive trees for several hundred euros, after all. I prefer to start my trees as babies and watch them grow, but my husband likes his trees to look like trees when he plants them. We've bought many forty euro trees, a number of which subsequently died, many of which have lived, especially the Italian cypresses and Italian pines. I've explained repeatedly to my husband that the size of the above ground portion of the tree means very little: it's the roots that support the organism, and they have to grow before the tree will grow. But he wants trees that aren't just twigs, even if he has to wait several years before they begin to grow visibly. And he's about to turn seventy-seven and is unlikely to live to see his trees in their maturity, so his impatience is justified. Anyway, I believe our most expensive plants have been a ten foot native oak, Q. pubescens, 100 euros, and a tall skinny evergreeen holm oak, Q. ilex, for 150 euros. The native oak has been sitting for about four years but looks okay, and I think will eventually take off. The holm oak was planted in clay that looked like gray adobe bricks when my husband dug the hole, but it's happy, putting out new leaves last summer. The evergreen oak, Italian cypresses and Italian pines are all north of their native range, but grow contentedly in our heavy sunbaked clay.
My husband works like mad on our garden and has no hobbies, so he has a right to his expensive trees. I propagate a lot, roses and aromatic subshrubs in particular, and I buy flats of seed-grown aromatics and grow them on through the summer. All the easy things. I buy a lot of plants, individually inexpensive but they add up: last year was the year of clematis from Germany, peonies from Lithuania, roses from the Netherlands: all cheaper and in greater variety than I can get them here in Italy. I get a lot of plants and cuttings from a few friends who like me are ardent collectors: we share all we have. Most of my hellebores are friends' seedlings. After all, I've never seen an ugly hellebore.
I ALWAYS think about the cost before I buy a plant, no matter how cheap it is. Ten euros for a plant is a significant price for my budget. For twenty euros the plant had better be special, and likely to survive and do well. Last spring I spent fifteen euros for a large pot of Ruscus hypoglossum, a plant I had been looking for for years. (This is a thornless relative of butcher's broom, a modest creeping evergreen plant that looks something like cast-iron plant though they're in different families.) This was a lot of money and my husband protested, but the plant had been in the pot for a long time and was jammed. I took it home, divided it into five pieces and repotted them, after which they grew vigorously. So my find became five plants at three euros apiece, a decent price, and I had my plant.
My husband knows all about my expenditures. I won't say he's never shocked by the prices I pay (which are very reasonable by gardeners' standards) but he knows I'm frugal in almost everything, and financially responsible. He just can't grasp the fact that there's a reason for the difference in price between a boxed bare-root Hybrid Tea at the local nursery and a rare own root antique variety from France.
I agree with Strawberryhill, plants are a benefit to the earth and to society, and are for the long term. And they give, you can propagate them and share them. A dinner out is a couple of pleasant hours and an agreeable memory. These are good things. But on my budget I have to choose between a dinner out and plants, and for me, it's plants every time.
Melissa
P.S. I too have terrible extravagances in my past, back in the days when I was a beginning gardener and had a paycheck. Six hundred dollars' worth of daffodils, and they didn't return. But those days are done.


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Campanula - thanks for the advice to look for baby hellebores under the big ones. Yesterday I pruned & cleaned up a hellebore bed, and found them! I think I have missed them in the past because they look just like tiny bean sprouts, or the sprouts of any number of weeds. Luckily a few had identifiable hellebore leaves, although tiny and much eaten by snails. My DH had been complaining about the hellebores "spreading onto the path" (the gravel paths are his business, the plants mine). I looked and he was right - there was a large hellebore clump in the path where I had not planted any. So, I dug that up, separated it, and was able to plant 3 new hellebores in other places. I also dug up a bunch of the tiny babies and potted them up. It will be fun to see what colors the new ones are. Thanks again - now I will never have to buy another hellebore!

Jackie


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  • Posted by seil z6 MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 27, 12 at 20:09

And that is why we come here, Jackie! learning and sharing is so much a part of what makes these forums so much fun. Now if someone could just teach me how to keep a hellebore alive I'd be eternally grateful! I've bought and planted them umpteen times and they grow all summer and then disappear in the fall never to return again. What am I doing wrong?!


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seil, are you growing the white christmas roses (H.niger)? If so, then stop feeling bad. These are notoriously difficult to keep. Instead, go for the lenten hellebores (H.orientalis). They never disappear - they make huge evergreen clumps of handsome palmate leaves all summer, sometimes getting a nasty leafblotch which is unsightly but not terminal. In January/February, you can cut the old leaves to the ground, exposing the new shoots and flowers. There are several tough species which are more interesting but lack the floriferous loveliness of the oriental hellebores. They are not really fussy about soil, although they like a decent depth with plenty of humus and/or leafmould. They are easy from seed too, taking 3 years to bloom but requiring nothing special apart from being left alone in pots for a couple of years with the odd bit of water. Do have another try as they are one of the most lovely, hardy standbys at a time of year when we are getting a bit bored of narcissi and crocus but the roses are doing nothing....and they make a really handsome clump of foliage throughout the rest of the year in difficuly shady spots.


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I inherited an old Helleborus niger with the house, probably from the late 50ies, a very large plant that flowered some years from late August till Christmas. It was close to the west side of the house among cement rubble (chalk), rather shady, near the water spout. This plant was so remarkable that I sent seed by request to Barry Glick at Sunshine Farms who breeds hellebores.


The only reason for success I can think of is that I followed the advice to water the plant often in hot summers. A few years ago I had to move and divide it and all pieces are doing well but not yet as well as the old plant. I gave a piece to a friend in Stockholm and his is doing fine, too. We both had plenty of flowers at Christmas. Mine are not in chalky soil so I try to remember to add chalk in winter.


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  • Posted by TNY78 6b-E TN (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 12:15

I think the most I've spent on a single plant, was $75 on my Jane Magnolia Tree...totally worth it! Its fragrant & so feminine looking. I just with its bloom period was longer.

Now, as for rose orders, last year I spent close to $2000.00 and this year I have one rose order From Vintage that is over $300 alone (I kept adding to existing orders from fall til now...Gita is probably ready to kill me!)

~Tammy


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  • Posted by seil z6 MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 12:21

Campanula, I don't honestly know which ones I had. I bought them at Lowes and Home Depot as pots and half the time they don't have any tags on their plants. I'll have to look for the H.orientalis ones this year and see how they do. Thanks!

Thanks, Mariann! What is the chalk for?


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Both times I was married I was the fiscally responsible one, and the one with money, so no damit I never felt any need to hide or justify my plant expenditures. First husband spent money on show dogs. We were eating mac and cheese for weeks after he purchased his foundation sire AND the first check bounced. It was a very nice dog, I loved that dog, but still. Second husband turned out to be spending all his income on alcohol and offshore pharmaceuticals. Neither one dared complain about my garden expenditures.

And yes gardening has wider benefits than other expensive hobbies (especially drinking and drugging hobbies!) We are doing the world a good turn by spending on gardening, plus supporting people in the nursery industry, where no one gets rich and everyone works hard.

While landscaping the grounds in second marriage, I was able to buy stuff wholesale and came home with a pair of Japanese plume cypress, Cryptomeria japonica Elegans, 15g cans for 80 bucks each - a steal. But it being fall, they were already in their winter bronzy plum foliage color, and not-so-dear now-ex H took one look at them and asked, 'How much would they have cost if they were alive?' He, on the other hand, bought two 5 g cans of timber bamboos, at 50 bucks apiece, and then never took care of them. I'd encouraged him as he wanted to make things from the culms, but made it clear they would be his plants and he would have to take care of them, like watering them regularly. They died almost immediately.

I know enough about plants to be willing to pay for quality and rarity. Common annuals better be cheap, and I buy very few. Some things I can do from seed. I salvaged a lot of plants while working in the nursery industry. I'll buy stuff from the big box stores but only after inspecting it carefully and still it better be cheap from them. I won't pay 1.50 apiece for 4" annuals, sorry. Then I'll go to a Plant Sale where lots of small specialist nurseries all get together and have booths, like at the Rhododendron Species Foundation Garden sale in April, and pay premium prices for premium plants. Like a Tibetan tree peony in a 2 gallon can for 30 bucks.

I also paid 25 bucks for a Paul Barden rose 'Treasure Trail', in a 2" band. Rarity makes it worth that, and it is an exquisite flower - an apricot colored, repeat-blooming moss rose.

Still, having a full yard and a full schedule limit what I spend, like hoovb.


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I suppose what I am groping for is to understand the disjunction between normal expenditure on stuff like tools, food, toothpast, compared to stuff where value is acribed by fashion, marketing, hype, whatever you will. You know the stuff I mean. Art, shampoo,CEO salaries, branded clothing, expensive cars. For some insane reason, I vaguely thought gardening was immune to such blandishments but I was, of course, being naive. Of course, there are reasons why some plants cost so much more than others - difficulty of propagation, ease of maintenance, and so on.....but the only reason for a paeony to cost 40 times more than a comparable species is down to that whole aspirational, must-have show-offy sort of thing when value gets defined by a twisted market thing whereby the very expensiveness acts as a sort of premium brand. OK, so I don't want to sound all puritannical about this (who am I kidding, yes I do,) but I really, really like the egalitarian aspects of gardening - all that is needed is a bit of space and patience....anyone can grow a seed. So, yep, I find myself getting irked at the creeping commercialisation of gardening - a rant which generally reaches full fruition around the time of the Chelsea Flower show (a horrid, over-the-top festival of excess, fads, rubbish celebs and designer pomposity). I absolutely would not begrudge anyone their horticultural extravagances but kinda hoped we gardeners were generally a bit more evolved to fall for such blatant tricks of spin and hype.


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Suzy,
I totally agree with you about the egalitarian aspect of gardening, but I'm not sure about your price analysis. Some considerations: how much does propagation cost and how long does it take the plant to reach sellable size? How much did the nursery's parent plant cost (initial investment to recoup)? How big and how chancy is the potential market? How about the costs of hybridizing (or finding and importing) the plant, costs which a commercial operation, in order to be successful, has to pass on to the buyer? Probably gardeners often do pay a premium for a new and special plant as well, but, fashion and hype aside, there are plenty of reasons why new or rare plants, or large specimens, should cost more.
I've read all the posts on this thread and I honestly see no hype-driven spending here, accepted that buying plants for the garden is a reasonable expense.
I considerable myself largely, not entirely, immune to fashion. Fashion is not wholly evil; after all, it's a way of bringing plants into the marketplace, making them available to gardeners. Gray foliaged plants become "in", so growers seek out every kind of lavender, phlomis, artemisia they can lay their hands on and put them into production. People buy them, for valid reasons or not; the plants die in gardens where they're not adapted, or they get dug up and thrown away after a few years by the fashion-enslaved gardener who restyles her(his) plantings; but in my garden where gray-foliaged plants do well, the lavenders and artemisias and phlomis continue to live and thrive, and I propagate them, spread them around in the garden, and pass them on to my friends, and many other gardeners do the same. That's how fashion works. I wish mahonias would come into style. The couple of varieties I have do marvelously well for me, so I was researching them last year, and not finding many mahonias, and certainly nothing cheap.
I'm not wholly immune to the appeal of 'la moda'. It would be awfully nice to have a yellow intersectional peony, oh yes; and possibly I value these plants slightly beyond their intrinsic merit. Still, I've always been capable of appreciating lovely plants that are common as grass: the common lilac is a fine example.

Reg pnw7, thanks for your tales of married life, which are a lot more entertaining for me than they were for you, I'm sure. Can you imagine what the world would be like if all those people who are drinking and drugging themselves would stop and begin growing flowers on the windowsills of their apartments or a vegetable patch in their yards? The world would get a whole lot closer to being the earthly paradise. I never knew anyone who was the worse for gardening.

Melissa


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Second thoughts

Ah, Suzy, maybe I misunderstood you. You were saying that the horticultural WORLD has its expensive, faddish, fashionable plants that people buy not because they love the plants but because the plants are the latest fashion. Did I get it right this time? Well, here I can agree with you; and in fact Italy is full of people who buy plants for fashion, exclusivity, appearances. Italy is the country per eccellenza of the "bella figura". Oh yes. And it has exceptionally boring gardens as a result, at least in most places I've been (a visit to a part of Tuscany between Pisa, Siena and Viareggio was an exception and a revelation).
Melissa


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mmmm, fraid I also found your post rather entertaining, Reg, especially the simmering fury regarding said husbands all too obvious failings. At the very least, you would think he could have combined the drinking and drugging with a little horticultural know how. I have said this before but have to repeat, the marijuana growers are amongst the best gardeners of my generation - not least because they have tons of cash to throw around on trying things out. Seriously, many of the current horticultural practices such as carbon dioxide dumping, use of mycchorhizals, growing under lights, hybridising and so on, are driven by innovation in the rapidly increasing home pharmaceutical market. Hemp is an interesting plant in its own right, being the only dioecious annual (separate male and female plants) with many uses from fibres to biomass (and the obvious toking fun).
Yep, Melissa, I would never be whining on about spending excessive amounts on plants and, moreover, a little scan of my gardening history shows my complete failure to exercise caution or moderation, having dabbled enthusiastically in pretty much every horticultural fad and fancy - grasses, check, including innapropriate restios and such like. Plant collecting....oh yes, I certainly have been seduced by paeonies, hellebores, rare bulbs (urk, tecophileas!!!), echinaceas (the less said about them, the better) alpines (seemed a great idea for little gardens).....I could go on. However, I am never going to spend 400 pounds on a paeony because there is something else defining the price which I seriously doubt has anything to do with difficulty of propagation and plenty to do with 'luxury goods' pricing where the ludicrously inflated cost confers rarity and elite ownership blah blah.....you sorta know what I am getting at.
By the way, I also know that one snowdrop was recently sold for nearly 300 pounds - a snowdrop!! I mean, you have to grovel about with a magnifying glass to notice minute differences between these little bulbs....how on earth can a tiny green blob, or a minuscule angle of petal position, actually be worth several hundred pounds. Nope, this is all about collecting, owning, having and other notions which I do not really like to associate too closely with gardening.


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I really want a Lady Slipper. I've been thinking about getting one for a couple years. So hard to pull the trigger though. They are 70 bucks for one. They are very nostalgic plants for me as I'd take walks in the woods and look for them with my grandmother. I keep saying that I'll get one once I've established the basics in the garden, but the size of the gardens keep growing. Such a large price for such a small plant. Maybe next year if I can mentally get over the price.


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Still, there is quite a history of these kinds of obsessions. It's not merely a modern marketing phenomenon. Just think of tulips....


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Fashion and hype. Yeah there's certainly alot of that in the world of gardening, just like everything else humans do. We're all subject to it to some extent. Us here on this forum, we're into roses that are not common and not cheap, after all, and isn't that part of their appeal? the rare Tea rose that none of our neighbors have ever heard of before? and, all too often, can't see any real improvement in over the run of the mill Knockout rose they got at the local big box store for $10?

We're not really any better than the general run of humanity I'm afraid. We on this forum may not fall for the kind of hype that goes on at the Chelsea flower show, but then again maybe we would if it were primarily roses. I understand what you're saying about the peonies. I've seen those new intersectional (?) peonies at the nursery - a cross between herbaceous and tree peonies. And I was interested, until I saw the price tags. If I were as into peonies as I'm into roses I may have been able to justify the price tag, but since I'm not, I'm perfectly happy with my box of 3 common bush peonies from Costco, along with the $30 Tibetan tree peony from the Rhododendron Species Foundation sale. And other assorted tree peonies that were $10 each.

Back in the 80s when I was somewhat new in retail nursery industry, yellow flowered Camellia japonicas hit the market with the hype etc we are deploring right now. I was working in a very upscale nursery in a very expensive area at the time. We had a few of the new yellow camellias, they were in 5 gallon cans for $90 each, when normal run of the mill camellias were $25, and less than that in the cheaper parts of town. Oh how I wanted one of those yellow camellias! but I was not paying anywhere near what we were asking for them. So I took cuttings! and took them home and rooted them and grew them out. For 15 years I kept those rooted cuttings, 4 of them, even though I moved several times. Finally the single survivor bloomed - shell pink, and not only that, identical in flower structure, color, and bloom time to an 'Ave Maria' camellia planted right next to it that I had salvaged from a landscaping job. Well really, who needs a yellow camellia? or a blue rose?

Even in the native plant field, where I work now, rarity is what gets people excited. Me, I like the common stuff, they don't need anything special or any care or fussing. My yard is dominated by native, extant, vegetation. I like the rare stuff when it supports other organisms in the ecosystem, but not just because it's rare. All too often, rare and endangered plants are that way for a reason - they don't reproduce well, they're fussy, they grow slowly, they're uncompetitive. Sad but true. Even the botanists, who pride themselves on being objective scientists (hah!), are subject to the appeal of the rare. And people into landscaping with native plants, they want the rare forms, the white camas when 95% are blue, or the white flowering currant when 99% are pink. It's only human.

It's possible that that super expensive snowdrop has other genetic qualities that set it off besides minute physical structure. Like bloom time, or environmental adaptations, or what pollinators can use them, or susceptibility to diseases, or something else not readily visible to us. These things can make a huge difference in where and how well the things grow, and their nutritional value in the ecosystem although admittedly that's the last thing gardeners think about. On the other hand it's very possible there's no real difference other than rarity.


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Actually, I don't think roses are expensive, all things considered. I've never paid more than fifteen euros for a rose (about twenty-two dollars at the time), and most I've gotten cheaper, not to mention all the plants and cuttings I've been given or started from my own plants. Of course, I haven't had them imported: that's where you start getting into the big bucks, relatively speaking. So, roses grow quickly, live long, are easy to grow, and many are easy to propagate; I think they're a bargain at the prices I pay.
reg pnw7, I don't agree with you about gardeners' motivation to grow old rare roses. It's not a desire to have what others don't have (perhaps a little, we all have a bit of the cloven hoof). I grow old roses because I think they're the most beautiful roses, and because they're the best growers in my garden among roses. Another reason is to preserve them: not many people are growing rare Gallicas, for example, and so I like to help keep them alive by having them in my garden. Another reason is to get to know the rose, and to grow it so that others can get to know it.
A rose like 'Ypsilante' is rare in gardens not because it isn't compellingly beautiful, and not because it isn't healthy and a good grower, but because it's a once-blooming variety. That doesn't bother me; whether a rose is in or out of fashion doesn't bother me; whether it's rare or common doesn't bother me. I do have collector's instincts and a great love of variety, and for the reasons I've given I think these are not harmful and I allow them sway, within the limits of my budget.
Melissa
P.S. Late realization and confession: I would like a yellow camellia, as long as it were beautiful, and part of the appeal would be its being different. But I wouldn't pay a big premium to get one.


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  • Posted by riku Z3 Canada (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 30, 12 at 0:57

95$ CDN for Itoh peonies is the most I have spent - most have not been impressive for color (washed out pastels) except for a couple of the yellows, and Molly the Witch (species peony).


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I do like the rare, at least rare to me. I think it is based on curiosity. I want to know all about the things that grow that appeal to me. There are some things that do not appeal, cacti and succulents, for example, and so I could not care less whether they are rare or not. I also like common.

About hellebores: for me, in heavy clay, in shade the Helleborus miger grows as well or better than the Helleborus x hybrida (orientalis). I've had a Black Magic for many years (25-30 ?) and discovered that it did not like the mulch it was getting or maybe it was getting too much mulch. It had started to grow backward and no longer produced seedlings. It is almost recovered now. The orientalis are great fun to breed for flower color. Pine Knot Nursery breeds Hellebores as well as sells them and the owner, Judith Tyler wrote a good book on them.

As to snowdrops, ahem, like oriental rugs I could not understand what people saw in them until I saw it too. The miniscule differences between snowdrops does not lure me (yet). But I cannot get the vision out of my head of snowdrops blanketing a wood in November, the dullest month of all, plant-wise. Some snowdrops do bloom in October, November and December. And for the first time one of my Christmas roses bloomed at Christmas. This has been the final victory in a decades long quest.

Like Campanula, I do not want to be used as a fool. On the other hand if a plant is important enough to me, fills a niche, meets my goals, I would pay up for it. Or if I had tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to propagate or grow a small one up, again I might pay up. One failure was a Taxus capitata in a particular and difficult place which in the end I paid to have planted. This was at last successful. The current frustration is a Cornus alternifolia variegata which needs to go on or near an old stump. The last purchase, after having tried several small ones, never leafed out and the vendor did not respond to my complaint. I may arrange to have it planted. The final reason to pay up is that at 70 I am running out of time. I used to plant perennials from seed, carry over impatiens cuttings, root taxus and boxwood, figs and jasmine, etc. My energies are waning and my time is short. Both must be used strategically.

Cath


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Campanula,
The peony that sells for �399.95 at Kelways is $45 at a place here in Washington and 70 euros in the Netherlands. That smells of fish to me. Has that peony been recently hyped in your local press lately?

I relate much more to the market bulletin ladies of the south in the 50's and 60's and maybe earlier who traded seeds and cuttings and advertised in free ag bulletins. Elizabeth Lawrence, the North Carolina gardener, describes her correspondence with this network of gardening ladies in her book, "Gardening for Love." Great book.

I just found the Forest Farm catalog - my goodness. Money will be spent.


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I can't find the 400 pound peony at Kelways and I am getting curious. It is probably not available in Sweden but I'd like to check if our local peony man has it.


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Guess what? The cause of our deep pockets is neither our big spending hubbies, nor bloated price peonies... It's the evil conspiracy of the socks industry like Hanes and Fruits of the Looms. They make socks that shrink in the dryer, thus shrinking our budget. I wasted at least $40 per year buying socks that shrink once washed.

I'm chubby and might have elephant ankles, but for my toothpick hubby and kid, there's no excuse for the socks industry. I buy men's socks for my 3rd-grader, size 5 shoes, and they shrank and are too tight for her. I am stuck with tons of socks to give to babies in 3rd world countries.

If you open my pantry, you'll see a socks' festival. I have to stretch them on every can of food available. The best ones are those giant oatmeal containers. One time I was really grumpy at my kid, and found that my socks were too tight for me. There should be a psychological study linking tight socks to family discord.

Lessons in life: socks shrink to half their intended size, and roses in bands expand to .... Please inform me here, folks - I'm a rose newbie.


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I've lost count of the money I've spent over the last 20 years on trees, roses, perennials and truckloads of mulch. I'm sure it could help reduce the national debt. My darling husband knows it's my passion and good-naturedly digs the required holes for the big boys.

Last summer, I decided to put in a conifer slope. Talk about pricey plants! I agonized over a 'Tiger's Eye' pinus for a couple of months before I succumbed and bought it...gulp. $259. I felt I should maybe sleep outside and guard it to ensure nothing would happen to it like grazing deer or evil rabbits. Now if Mr. Winterkill is kind!


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Trees are expensive unless you buy them small. It is in part because people want to buy them with some size on them (understandably) and the grower has to invest several years into each plant. The development of named cultivars also takes much longer that it would for an annual or perennial, or even a rose, years longer. For several years I've been planning to forest a slope outside my fence, or at least plant a grove of trees, and have been gasping over the cost. So far I have planted two of the 20-30 trees I have in mind, and I planted those ones small. They are growing so slowly! But the little trees are $25-$40 a piece, while the big ones are $150-$200 a piece. And these are all species trees, not named varieties. Given the slope I'll be working on, the smaller trees will be easier to plant myself. I don't want to have to hire labor for this project.

Rosefolly


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When I went to the nursery to price out trees, you could get the babies very reasonable. The teenagers jumped in price considerably.

I lost a mature 'Tri-Color Beech' this past summer and it was heartbreaking. I didn't mind the cost so much as the many years of growing to get it to where it was. I miss that tree.


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pffft! still steaming from the cheek of Kelways - have read up a little more about Salmon Dream, the 400 pound offer from Kelways - not only is it a good grower, it forms adventitious roots and divides well. Carsten Burkhardt suggests that it must be down to demand, which is why some nurseries feel justified in charging such an eye-watering amount. And yep, it is not even that new - it was hybridised in 1979 and is most certainly to be found for 50 bucks in the US????
Robbery is everywhere for the unwary.


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Susie, 'Salmon Dream' is available for $50 plus shipping here in the US. I am still reeling over the prices some folks will pay for new introduction daylilies. Have you checked out the Lily forum? Those prices leave me gasping.


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Salmon Dream costs 70 EUR in the Netherlands or 58 GBP. My nearest source for it is Norway where it costs 780 Norwegian krona, about 84 pounds. Still a bit too much for me as I am used to having a friend dump his unwanted peonies on me. His allotment proved too shady for them so two years he gave me 8 beauties that I am waiting for to grow bigger, especially Mons. Martin Cahuzac, a very dark one.


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If I ask DW she will say: "NO!"
I asked if I could buy another $50 orienpet lily bulb this year and she said: guess what? Last year I just bought one $50 lily bulb Fait accompli with the rest of my order, and was sent another as a free bonus bulb, such a deal.
Chinese Tree Peonies are expensive as they have to be grown here in the states for a year or two before being sold in the fall at the correct time for planting. I tried to save money and bought cheap ones that were sent out in the spring and only one survived out of 10. Turned out to be a rather expensive purchase.
One usually gets what one pays for. I am bloody cheap and have plenty of time. I agree that the smaller healthy plant will in the long run often be longer lived than instant shock and awe.


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I agree 100% with terryjean and Iowa_jade that the small cheap trees are the best. I bought tiny Norway Spruce under 1 feet for less than $4 each, but they are 20' tall after a decade. My neighbor bought a tree for $200 and it died on her. I saw how the "professional" planting team planted her tree and put back in ALL the rocks and limestones.

Someone said that it's better to spend money on the planting hole, than on the plant. I agree. I once killed a $129 Japanese Maple tree by amending it with mushroom compost. I didn't know that mushroom compost is very alkaline back then.


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oh dear, feeling a bit shamefaced as I have paid shocking amounts for lily bulbs - no doubt Marianne is having a good smirk as I bought 5 white martagons for nearly 6 pounds apiece (she laughingly related how she has been given these for FREE). Even so, 50 dollars sounds way over the top for any lily - the absolute top prices are for the rare species with unspellable and unpronounceable names....but even these are only around 12 pounds each. Ho, yes, I have just ordered some L.cernuum album (although I do not actually believe they are l.cernuum, but even a white l.pumilum would be interesting....and they cost 18 pounds for 10 (but that is wholesale prices). Even so, these prices are all varying by smallish increments whereas a 400 pound purchase is of an altogether different thing. I am going to check out the lily forum now....and no doubt get a bad reputation as a moaner.


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I am not smirking at all, just grateful to my friend with the overcrowded allotment who gave me all the white martagons, the peonies plus an expensive rhododendron, a Yaku Angel at 46 pounds or 73 dollars. But the responsibility is heavy because he may come and check the progress of his gifts any time. I know he is disappointed that I don't have more of his martagons when he was so generous with them. It was too embarrassing to have lost a few of his apple grafts from neglect, grafts of rare varieties he had kept in his fridge over the winter and grafted on my trees in spring. Now I am terribly nervous about the rest of the shoots. Besides, it is not entirely pleasant to be in debt to someone who doesn't need more plants. I am glad that I managed to press a Clair Matin on him a couple of years ago. I must try to find a rare orchid or a show auricula because I think he could make room for that.


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ooooh yes, Marianne, anyone could make room for an auricula, even the common old border ones. Sympathies, though, I know how hard it is to feel responsible for someone else's treasures. But hey, you must have given lots of stuff away - I know I have....and always, in my mind, is a clear hope that my enjoyment gets shared - absolutely not a test of someone's gardening skills. I shouldn't be speaking for your friend but even so, I would be really surprised if he was likely to come back and check - not least because you are so obviously a good and conscientious gardener. How long have you had the martagons? It is my understanding that they can take at least a couple of seasons before they bother to send out a flowering stem as they have a protracted sulk at being disturbed. Be kind to yourself, Marianne, and give the lilies more time too. If not an auricula, get him some trillium seeds, that should keep him on his toes.


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  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 1, 12 at 20:22

Now that I think about it, I spend a fortune on water. Not the fancy stuff in bottles that trendy people drink. The stuff I must dribble onto plants to keep them alive.

Thats where the big money goes!


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