The cheapest is friends and family who will give you starts, cuttings, divisions, etc.. Home centers and large department stores are usually the most reasonable in my area but may have a limited variety.
Ma and Pa garden centers can be surprisingly well stocked and reasonable in price as well.
Mail order is ok, but you may not want to pay the shipping for the larger sizes and not wait on the small ones to grow to a size that gives your landscape some impact. Be sure to check out The Garden Watchdog here at Daves Garden for mail order company reviews.
I've also collected seeds from trees and grew my own.
So, the bottom line is; have fun, be patient and do only what you can so you're not overwelmed and do it your way.
Try to find plant swaps nearby. Even if you can't bring much to share, you should end up with plenty of plants to bring home, especially if folks know ahead of time that there's a newbie who is just starting out. Those who can will bring some extras for you.
I would like to point out that you get what you pay for so cheap isn't always cheap in the long run (said the nurseryperson who works at an independent garden center). Many of my customers are former Home Depot junkies whom I've rehabilitated :) They realize now that buying quality plants at slightly higher prices is usually worth it.
I agree whole heatedly with Plantfreak as regards the quality of SOME large garden stores products / plants however, at this time of year there are several areas in these stores where they have reduced prices due to season ending (they need space for Christmas displays ect) they cant store and care fort all the unsold plants and therefore sell them off, I really do think us gardeners are our own worse enemy regards buying plants, so my advice is, if you want dead plants then buy them dying and dried out with poor soil, leaves all around the pot at the base and dead stems that will never green up in a month of Sunday's,
But IF you are able to care for a plant over the winter (i am lucky to have a greenhouse and a cold frame) so am able to tend some plants over winter till spring planting time but to be fare to everyone, there is no plant worth buying that is showing signs of pot bound roots, dead foliage or wilting in the pot, we all have plants at home in those conditions from time to time due to being over busy with other outdoor tasks and garden stores are the same, just some of these stores cant look after their pants at any time and rely on fast sales to prevent them having to care for the stock.
I much rather go to private nursery as described above and help these businesses expand or survive due to their love of plants rather than large conglomerates who really just want a fast buck.
But we don't all live close to these private nurseries so the real answer is, don't buy dead or dying plants unless you are an expert at reviving the dead, just put your cash into a charity box and feel better ha, ha, ha. OR as Plantfreak has said, support the small nursery's who with all there knowledge yet, here in UK are closing several a year due to the larger superstores opening outside every town or city,
Oh don't get me started on small towns dying and turning to ghost towns with streets of empty stores because those large store come and cut all prices to the bone and then when the small stores have closed down, the big guy's up their prices and we end up with no choice but the crap the large stores sell at big prices, PHEW, glad I got that out Eh!!!!
Good luck. WeeNel.
Purpleinopp, that is a really pretty area you have sewn, I really love the different textures and the colours that flow into each other, if you did all that from seed you should take a bow, you have required a green ginger ha, ha, ha,
Good luck and happy gardening.
Thanks! There were some seeds involved, but mostly it's from saving cuttings over winter in bottles and jars of water, and starts from plants from other parts of the yard, or from other people's yards. Most of these aren't perennial plants, but I'm usually glad about that. It's all new every year, and can't get out of control, easy to mulch after frost.
Plant swaps!!!! The generosity of the gardeners here on DG is just AWESOME.
At my very first swap(or round ups as they are called here on DG) I figured I came away with about $800 worth of plants/shrubs for gas $ and just some swap of Daylilies(all I had to trade at the time since we just moved in)
Do you know that Coleus can be rooted in water . I got a piece from Penn. last year and I got the most beautiful plants this year. I am rooting 3 different color Coleus on the window sills over the winter.Also the begonias with the tiny flowers I rooted those too by just sticking pieces in moist potting soil indoors, by spring I have lots of plants to put in my garden. Hope you have luck with these ideas