Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It's July and the temperature is (finally) rising. This is not the time to be planting so why am I shopping now?

The first thing I've been doing is visiting the local garden centers (LGC) to see what's attracting butterflies. I've made lists of plants to add to my butterfly garden based on what's popular at the LGC.

The second thing I've been doing is looking at the plants that are blooming now. I like Lilies but I'm quite picky about the blooms. So I go looking now, while they are in bloom, make notes and plan for fall. This is also a good time to look at Daylilies. Daylilies are such hardy plants that I could buy them now but I don't have a spot ready and I'm so far behind on my other gardening chores that I don't have time to make a spot (I think the 10 inches of rain this summer is a good excuse, we'll ignore the fact that I'm always behind in the garden).

I've also been busy with catalogs. It rained over 3 inches last week (squish) so I had plenty of indoor time. Shopping from catalogs can be tricky. A new supplier may or may not provide high quality plant material. Catalogs often have stuff that's not available locally (or at the very least they SHOULD have unusual stuff that may not be available locally) so you may never have seen the plant in question. Then there are the shipping fees. These can add quite a lot to the cost of the plant so watch for them.

On the plus side ordering from catalogs can get you the unusual stuff. It may be unusual because it's difficult to grow or because it's new on the market or you may be pushing your zone. I buy all three. This fall I can look forward to a large order of bulbs from Brent and Becky and some more oddballs from Plant Delights. These can join my zone-pushing Salvias and my hopefully winter hardy to zone 6 Rosemary (a variety called Arp). We'll have to see if they survive the coming winter.

One tip for shopping from catalog is to try a small order first and see what quality plants you get. I do this with new places, even if they do come recommended. Second, try and visit them. I have been to Plant Delights and their grounds are delightful! It's so nice to see plants in a garden setting to get an idea of things like final size and the true color of the blooms/foliage. One of my favorite places to visit when I lived in NC was Niche Gardens. They, too, have a catalog service but their grounds are worth visiting. Niche has a great selection of natives.

So be adventurous. Spend a hot or rainy afternoon inside and find something new and different to try in the garden this fall. You never know, it might surprise you.

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