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How I wish......

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

I could buy all those wonderful trees and roses I saw today in Lowes (I don't know if that is construed as advertising, and no doubt Dave will sort me out if I have broken the rules). Anyway, the roses, J & P were so inexpensive. I saw my beloved 'Iceberg' and climbing 'Queen Elizabeth' and many more. As for the trees, apple, peach, pear, plum, cherry were dirt cheap. The ornamental trees also were very good value. The reason I bemoan the fact that I can't buy yet, and I'm sure some of you know this, is that I have yet to prepare new land and that is going to take at least one year, if not more. But I can dream and drool and hope that by next year I will be lucky enough to find the same great value and selection.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Louisa, have no fear! Free speech is alive and well here, thank goodness.


Middlesbrough, United Kingdom

Hello Louisa! No need to worry about Disneying and rules here. DG is miles better than some other place with a G in it. Make yourself right at home.
I'm a rose nut too but mine are old and in poor condition now. Nearly 40 which is long in the tooth for a rose. I have a climbing Queen Elizabeth. Plenty of flowers from it last year. Still one of my best in spite of its age. Eventually I intend replanting where my older roses have died out, but it's too soon yet. I'm putting down plenty of manure to put these beds into good condition again. That's two of us drooling!!

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Louisa, I can sympathize with your situation - we moved into our home last July, and I wanted so badly to start planting right away. But I knew I needed to:

a) spend my time and money remodeling the inside; and
b) see the existing plants and trees through an entire gardening season before I started ripping out and replacing. (At least I did have existing stuff in place - it's not like I've spent 9 months staring at a bare plot.)

But oh, how I wanted to start then and there. And to make matters worse, I had to go to Home Depot and Lowe's several times a week for lumber, plumbing, drywall, paint, lighting, etc. Which meant I had to walk right past all those plants. It was cruel and unusual punishment for a gardener (grin!) I confess I finally broke down and bought a small flat of annuals for containers to flank the front and back doors. And I did buy a couple flats of pansies to set in last fall.

But now with the new growing season nearly upon us, I know what's out there; where the sunny spots and shady spots are; and (once the peonies and irises bloom,) I'll know what's worth salvaging, and where they should go. And during the past several months, my compost pile has been "doing its thing" thanks to all the leaves and cow manure I added, so I'll have something to amend the soil with as I plant new seedlings this spring.

Patience is certainly a difficult virtue to attain!!! But gardening does seem to instill it in us, doesn't it?

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

I think that only one gardener can know what other gardners go through. I'm sure we have a different set of rules and emotions set apart from anyone else. When I tell my non-gardening friends about how I feel, they are not really interested and shrug their shoulders wondering what all the fuss is about.

Go vols - You did everything the way it should be done and that's the way I have to do it also. I don't have much patience at all, but this is one time when it's really out of my hands. But I also succumbed today. I did buy the geraniums - at $2.96 a plant, how could I

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Louisa, you're right about empathy among fellow gardeners.

But you know, sometimes I see glimmers of hope - when friends ask me about plants and flowers, and I give them advice that seems to make sense, I'll see sparks of interest there. But I know it would still scare them away if I launched into a diatribe about my temperamental compost heap. And they'd probably think I was kidding if I told them I was in my neighbor's pasture yesterday, staring down the cows as we loaded up a trailer with about 500 pounds of cow patties. I am a petite 5'2" (um, some people would say I'm just plain short), and most people mistakenly assume that I must be dainty, little do they know.

Most casual acquaintances wouldn't believe I'd actually know how to handle a shovel, let alone the subject matter at hand!!! Just goes to show you that looks ARE deceiving (I'm grinning mischievously, can you tell?)

Good luck with your hardy geraniums. I have yet to try them, but I'm sure they'll find their way into one of these beds before too many more seasons pass!

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

About manure!! In England I would use horse manure, but not fresh, we call it 'well rotted' until it has dried completely and has no smell. So what's the deal on cow manure? Do you allow it to sit for about a year and then use it? I always thought that fresh muck would burn the roots of the plants. A 'fetish' of mine, since we are talking about the characteristics of the gardener, is to weed plants that are on sale, especially in Wal-Mart etc. I can't bear to see that and feel so sorry for the plants, but watch out if plants are allowed to dry out and are shrivelling in the heat - then I really go nuts and seek out the person in charge to tell them the plants will die without warer (or are dead already). I don't know if the people tending the garden sections are gardeners or not, but when I see fuschias, begonias, hostas etc stressing out in the hot sun when their rightful place is in the shade, then that too makes me wonder how much exprience these people have.

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)


Unfortunately, you have the folks who work in those centers confused with people who care.

Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

I think we all wanted to grab the hose at one time and water those poor dried out plants at the home

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Brook, Do you mean that the people who work in the centers don't care? Surely then it has to be the management that is at fault. Although it doesn't take much savvy to water plants, some people might really and truly not have a clue whether a plant has dried out or not. You would think that keeping the plants from drying out would be a major concern of the management who would, in their turn, point this out to the employees. I even tried to buy old pots from Walmart but they preferred to throw them out instead.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Louisa, about the manure......(I SWEAR only gardeners could carry on a straightfaced conversation about some of these subjects!) Yes, it will compost/rot with a lot of leaves that our trees produced last year. Hopefully it will take less than a year - I'm counting on it being ready by summer/fall, so I'm planning on several turnings to hurry it along as much as possible.

On the issue of the plants from the discount centers (I'll genericize it because it's not just WalMart, but every big discount chain.) I have found that a lot of these stores' garden center employees DO care about the plants they're responsible for, but they're not necessarily gardeners. So they don't know HOW to take care of the plants - they blast them with water so they almost drown, then let them dry out too long (I've watched my mother-in-law do the same thing INTENTIONALLY, thinking she was "strengthening" the plants....I took over the watering chores after that!)

The plants at the discount center also suffer because of what I call "prior bad acts" - they've been in a nursery, given frequent mistings, monitored humidity and fertilized like nobody's business so they look lush and green. Then suddenly they're placed outside on blazing asphalt, in the wind, sun, cold night temperatures, etc. I'd object, too!

I have bought plants from the discount chains and will probably buy more. For "mainstream" plants, you can't beat the price. I try to catch them when the shipments are fresh, and take them home and properly harden them off before I set them out. That usually is enough to guarantee their success.

I figure that way, there are fewer plants for the employees to (wittingly or unwittingly) abuse ;0)

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Go-vols - Couldn't agree with you more. Even poinsettias at Christmas time are grown under 'monitored' conditions, then transported on to stores, still in favourable conditions. But take them home and even a short blast of cold air can have disastrous affects.

I did buy just the roots of the hardy geraniums today and planted them up straight away. They are now in the shed, but it is not frost-free. From a 63F temp today, we are in for snow tomorrow. Then by Friday it's up in the 50s again.
And I thought it was spring :-). Have you ever mixed in cocoa shell with your compost - it's quite marvellous and smells wonderful.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

No, I haven't tried cocoa shells....I don't know if I can find them locally (we're pretty landlocked in middle Tennessee, and I don't know how readily available these would be.) But I might check on them....of course, if they smell as good as you say, having them around would probably arouse my chocoholic cravings to an unbearable point!!!!

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Thought you had signed off a long time ago. Guess you did what you had to do and came back eh? :-) I will have to go also, getting pretty tired and still have potatoes to peel for tomorrow's potato salad. I do soup kitchen meals every Thursday. Talk again soon.

Greenfield, IN(Zone 5b)

About the discount chain garden centers, I worked part time at a local Target store, at least most of their plants were sheltered, but the job of running the garden center in the parking lot goes to whoever wants it and asks first. Usually the teenagers got it (their friends could visit without getting into trouble.) Just try and ask one of them a question!!!! the local K-Mart does not have protection for any of their plants, If I find something I want that has suffered from their lack of protection I will buy it (at a discount 25-50 percent off). I have a butterfly bush that near death, I bought it for at $4, a little TLC and it is doing fine!!! Julie

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Julie, It's amazing how many plants can be 'rescued' when they look as though they've had it and what a wonderful feeling it is when they come 'alive'. I bought hostas in 4 gallon pots at an end of year sale for $1.00, they were originally priced at $16.00. Waiting with baited breath to see if they pull through since they have been overwintering in the shed. :-)

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)


Yes, I mean exactly that.

Let's remember a couple of things about the employees at discount stores: 1: by and large they are minimum wage employees. 2. they are mostly _not_ permanently assigned to the department they are in. Might be in the garden center today, and women's clothing tomorrow. 3. they do what they are told, no more and no less, and are given little if any training when the time comes to do it.

Watering is typical. When the department manager (who may or may not be a gardener themselves) tell the kid to water the plants, the kid goes and does it. Only training he or she received was where to turn the hose on and off, and to be sure and screw the watering rose on. Nothing about how much or how little to water.

Sure, sometimes by accident, there are people in the garden center who know plants. Been my experience, however, that they are good folks to chat with, and to learn from. But they do not care for the plants in their temporary care the way they would like to, because they aren't allowed to. It takes too much time.

This message was edited Thursday, Feb 22nd 12:05 PM

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

I agree with you Brook about the staff. So bottom line is, the big bosses are the ones who must shoulder blame and obviously they buy plant material so cheaply that they can afford to lose them! (The plants I mean)

This message was edited Thursday, Feb 22nd 8:34 PM

Kennedy, NY(Zone 4a)

About Manure... heheeh

I found an old farm that had a huge chicken coop, and an equally huge pile of 20 years worth of chicken poo-poo... oh my lord... did my hollyhocks and poppies love that stuff.

Paxton, FL(Zone 8a)

When I go in Lowe's I ask if they have any dead plants for sale. I know they think I'm crazy, but who cares. I got 6 -8 purple coneflowers last year for .50 each. All they needed was some water to bring them back to life.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Ahhhhh.......That chicken poo!! Great stuff. There was a great gardener in England by the name of Geoff Hamilton - he did a programme on TV and much loved by millions of people. Sadly he died very suddenly whilst riding his bike - sadly mised. He was a great believer in chicken you-know-what and if it was OK for him then it has to be pretty good stuff. By the way, a rose was named after him quite recently.

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