‘Tis the season for gardeners everywhere to flock back to their local garden centers and greenhouses to load up on new plants for their gardens.
My local supplier, I mean greenhouse, is packed with all kinds of pansies, violas, and other frost tolerant flowers just begging me to buy them and take them home. So far I’ve purchased three flats of pansies, three flats of alyssum and five flats of violas.
Do you know what we call 11 flats of early spring flowers?
We call it a good start.
Of course, I do realize there are some people—let’s call them non-gardeners—who think one flat of mixed flowers is a huge plant purchase, and all the plants they will need until the next spring.
Never mind them.
Once I brought my plant purchases home, which I bought on three separate trips, I got right to work planting them out and potting them up. I wanted to give them time to settle in so they will be fabulous for Easter.
Now, with all the flowers planted out, there is no evidence of the number of flats I purchased. No one can ask, in an annoying, accusing manner, “You bought how many flowers?” (And they don’t even realize I’ll pull out the violas and pansies around Memorial Day and replacing them with more heat-tolerant annuals. Shhh… don’t tell all our secrets.)
I do understand, of course, that there are times when we can’t plant out all of our plants as soon as we get them home. The plants end up sitting around in their flats and plastic pots waiting for us to either have the time to plant them out or find the space to plant them in. Knowing that some non-gardeners might look at the number of flats and pots that may have accumulated on the back patio after a rousing, fun-filled day of garden center and greenhouse hopping and question why we need so many plants, I am offering…
Do you have foundation plantings around your house? I know one gardener who puts her newly purchased plants behind her foundation plantings, mostly shrubs. This not only helps to protect the plants from the sun and wind while she decides where to plant them, it also makes them less noticeable to anyone who might happen by, like her husband. On occasion, she has even found plants behind her shrubs that she forgot she purchased. What joy! Finding them later recaptures that warm feeling she had when she first bought them.
An alternative to putting the plants behind shrubs is to place them in empty spots in a perennial border. If you use this method of hiding plants, just be sure to keep them watered. They can dry out quickly in full sun.
How about decoy containers? If you have any large empty containers not yet planted, you can put several pots of newly purchased plants in a large container to hold them until you are ready to place them out in the garden. If anyone happens to see them and makes a comment, you can just explain that you are getting to know the plants a bit better before planting them. All the best gardeners do that. Note that if you have really large plants still in their plastic nursery pots, you can spray paint the pots and call them “decorative plantings”. No one needs to know they are really a testament to your procrastination.
Did you know some neighbors have perfectly good open spots on their patios and beside their houses where you could temporarily put a few plants? The perfect situation is if you and your neighbor are both gardeners. You can keep each others’ plants until you are ready to plant. Then if someone asks if you bought all those plants you can truthfully say you didn’t. They belong to the neighbor.
You can also hide your plant purchases by planting them as soon as you buy them. This takes careful planning and a bit of time but is the best hiding place of all. Then if someone asks if there are a lot of new plants in the garden, you can simply point at an old plant and say, “This plant? It’s been here for years.” If they point at a new plant, never confess it is new. Just say, “That plant? Doesn’t it look great there?”
And a bonus sixth place to hide your plant purchases is to just bravely leave them out in the open in all their glory in their flats and plastic pots. If anyone asks if you bought all of them, stand up straight and tall, wave your trowel at them and say, “Yes, I did” and leave it at that.
There you have it. Five places to hide your plant purchases. I hope this was helpful, as I do want to be helpful to my fellow gardeners, and teach them all the tricks I’ve learned through the years.
Happy Gardening (and Plant Buying!)