Content for Newsy Notes was a little scarce this week, but one short write-up caught my eye and stirred the following:
Have you ever gone to a nursery seeking annuals to fill holes in your garden beds … and left disappointed and without a single plant?
Do you shop at big box stores for some plants but head to your favorite local nursery for more unusual ones?
Do you primarily use one nursery exclusively or wander the nursery circuit, buying a little here and there?
An article in The Hartford Courant urges these questions. The author left the nursery empty handed after seeing petunia baskets at $30 a pop, but no flats of annual petunias appropriate for DIY basket planting; mundane offerings of other annuals and no new varieties; highly priced supplies; and a slew of high-priced shrubs. The author’s beef apparently was not shared … a full parking lot hinted of shoppers.
I’m the first to admit that I am not the typical shopper. I often leave stores empty-handed when I don’t find what I’m looking for. When it comes to plant purchases this spring, people in south central CT have many more choices than before. Roadside plant stands have popped up in otherwise unused corners of parking lots … most selling annuals and small pots of perennials, some selling potted shrubs and trees and basic bagged potting soil, composted manure, etc. I’ve wandered through many just to see what’s there, but left empty-handed.
I’d rather spend my plant budget at trusted, tried-and-true local nurseries. I’m lucky to have two. Staehly Farms provides locally grown annuals; a good selection of small potted perennials; a few potted shrubs; great hanging baskets at a great price; bagged mulch, potting soil, and compost; plus an ever growing selection of fresh fruits and vegetables (many grown at the farm), local eggs, cheeses, and other goodies. Ballek’s Garden Center is the go-to place when I need a certain color of snapdragon, salvia, or other annuals (not a flat of mixed colors); need to peruse a large selection of perennials; seek tropical hibiscus or other tender perennials; need a specific type of decorative pot, trellis, or garden ornament; feel the need to check out larger shrubs or trees; or seek to get some creative juices flowing. The two centers – both family run – compliment each other by providing different types of plant resources. Plants I do not grow from seed and want in my personal gardens come almost exclusively from these two places.
There are also a few really good local, well established nurseries in neighboring towns I might buy from if I’m in the area and see a must-have, but I avoid buying from pop-up plant stands, large plant chains, and big box stores. (Tomatoes grown in the south and sold in the northeast via big box stores likely contributed to last season’s late blight saga.) After decades of gardening, I’ve learned that locally grown plants transplant and acclimate the best.
The article’s author also speaks highly of local nurseries, but admits to big box shopping for some plants and shrubs. So I’m curious, what’s your plant buying practice? What draws you back to a nursery? What’s your experience with big box purchases?