Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still working with the family: my assignment today is to buy these plants!

I like buying plants; for one thing, it means I get to go to nurseries where there'll be thousands of plants just waiting to be checked out. I'll do it. You never know what you'll see at a nursery. There could, actually there will be exciting things out there. Just because I'm not shopping for myself doesn't mean that if something wonderful appears it can't go into the cart.

I remember one season at Behnke's when my duties included not only doing the designs, but also pulling the plants from their various locations around the nursery and assembling them for the installation crews. I arrived at work about 5:00 am in order to have two hours to pull the orders before the crews arrived. It was exciting. Anything problematic, that might have sold out, I pulled ahead of time but even so I never knew for sure. Maybe somebody came in and bought 1200 liriope leaving me without my 25. It was fun though. I've always enjoyed being places when no one else is there. Not for long periods, I do like people, but there's just something exciting about being the only person in a store, a building, or even a nursery...

I shouldn't have trouble finding most of these, but the Daphne may be a problem. Fall is the season to plant Tree peonies but they are a lot more widely available in the spring. Some things will be available but won't look great: hostas, hakonechloa, I may have to go to Susannah Farms Nursery outside of Poolsville to find a fastigiate Yew. If so, I'll see some very cool plants.

Fall is an interesting time to buy plants. Most growers don't keep perennials over the winter, and sometimes it just isn't going to pay to step up woody plants to the next size. If you don't sell most shrubs when they hit the 3-gallon pot size....well, the market is limited for larger sizes so only a few get stepped up. The rest will either be composted or sold at a discount. If perennials or annuals didn't sell "in season" the grower will often make them available at irresistibly low prices so that we, the end consumers, occasionally stumble upon great bargains. If you've got a good eye, and your client trusts you enough to be a bit flexible, sometimes you can save them a good bit of money in the fall.

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