Monday, May 28, 2012

Putting down roots

I spent most of my twenties and a good chunk of my thirties wandering. Five years was the longest I stayed anywhere. I lived in a succession of dorm rooms, rented rooms, and apartments. At many times I lacked a permanent job. Teaching in New York was my first Real Stable Job -- and of course housing costs there were far, far beyond my means for all but the most meager co-op in a giant building.

In a nutshell, this is why I wanted a house.

I wanted a house for about ten years before I finally up and bought one.

One of the reasons I bought this specific house was the back yard. It's safe to say that I saw the back yard and ignored most of the house.

This is not to say that the yard was perfect. I have had to do a lot of work, both to remedy the neglect it suffered (the owner was in her 90s) and to shape it to reflect my own preferences.

The front yard in particular was trying. About a third of it was phlox, a third dirt, and the remaining third, mulch.

Phlox is very pretty for about two weeks in April (which, coincidentally, was when I first saw the house). The rest of the time it's pretty much nothing. I moved into the house in June, so there was a limited amount I could do. I put the front garden off until the following spring

I wanted very specific plants for this garden. Swinky sent me a box of goodness that included all kinds of zombie love and gladiola bulbs in purple and green. Zombie mix, she said, and the idea for the Zombie Garden was born.

With that in mind, I spent the winter planning out my garden.

Purple Garden
I scoured the Internet for the plants I wanted at reasonable prices. I wanted very specific things, and most importantly, green envy echinacea.

The company I ordered from last year has enough bad reviews on the Garden Watchdog to dissuade anyone who does a little research from ordering from them. Last year I didn't know about this fantastic site and took a chance. Bad move. At first I thought awesome, I will totally order from The Nursery That Shall Not Be Named again because they pretty much sent me twice as much of everything as I ordered. The plants were teeny tiny and their roots wrapped in plastic and newspaper, but I was like, okay, maybe that's just how they come.

But then I planted the coneflowers and waited for them to grow and they were totally not what I ordered. They were still coneflowers, but they were not the coneflowers I was looking for.

These are not the coneflowers you are looking for

So they grew, but they were spindly, and not what I ordered. Granted they also do a free plant deal, and one of the free plants, I have to say, is doing much better than any of the other plants I got from them (several died, though we did have a late frost). This is the free Red Weigela, which I just moved into the ground to replace the giant yucca I dug out. It was...yucca.

The other free plant never got beyond the stick phase and I ditched it this spring.

So I was sourcing my green envy again this year and thought, I wonder if there are reviews of mail-order nurseries. There are. Dave's Garden is awesome; the Garden Watchdog which contains reviews of mail-order nurseries is only one of their fantastic features. Do be careful and watch the date of the reviews; the merchant I ordered from had some bad reviews a couple years ago...but many of those reviews were later changed to good reviews because they made it right. Recent reviews show they have really improved their business. While I am certainly someone who is more likely to just take my business elsewhere than complain to a business, I think you really do have to complain if there's a chance that the people might actually want your business and be willing to make it right.

I was totally impressed with the size and plant-like-ness of what came to me. The packing was pretty awesome. Lots of cardboard, lots of vertical space, and little tucky-inny things so the plants stayed put in their sheaths.

So here's one of my new plants, tucked into my higgledy-piggeldy front patch. I am optimistic about the outcome, but of course it will take a couple months to find out.

The undead glads came up really nicely.

I did have to relocate a couple to the back yard this spring, and will probably have to dig them up and separate them in the fall because, holy moley, bulbs multiply!!!

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