Saturday, March 10, 2012

Start Gardening With Something Dead and You Won't Be Disappointed

Laura Breck
We live in a condo downtown, but we have a little dirt area surrounding our patio where we have plants. When we moved it, it was filled with a grungy collection of scratchy, overgrown perennial bushes that baffled me.

A few years ago, one of our neighbors suggested we rip it all out and start a rock garden. We tugged out the miscellaneous shrubberies and offered them to friends who have much more room for bushes.

We drove our SUV to the local landscape nursery and weighed in. (You drive onto a huge scale as you enter and they record the weight of your vehicle.) We spent hours cruising through the rock section. It's amazing how many different kinds of rocks there are for landscaping. We chose a stratified red and brown rock and spent another hour picking through the pile for just the right chunks. (Yes, we brought gloves, thankfully.)

The rock we chose is evidently very upscale as well as very heavy because when we re-weighed the truck on the way out, it cost over a hundred dollars for seven basketball-sized pieces of rock. There went our budget!

The next stop was at the garden center's perennial plant area. We looked at all the beautiful ground cover offered but when we added up the price for the number of plants we needed, it wasn't in the budget.

Until we found a discount table full of Dead Nettles. Hubby laughed, and said, "These you couldn't kill. They're already dead."

Ha ha. He's SO funny. Yes, I'm a plant killer. Not proud of it, but when greenery looks at me, it sees the grim reaper.

The plants were pretty. Variegated leaves and the promise of delicate white, pink, or purple flowers. Sold! We loaded up a couple boxes and got out of there for under fifty dollars. And with a shrug, we admitted that if they didn't work out, we could always replace them with something more expensive next year.

Six years later, we love them!

The cheap little plants have grown beautifully around the expensive rocks. They flower at various times during the summer. Our lawn care person even commented on how nice they are. And the best part is - they're alive!!!
So, the grim reaper of gardening has found her perfect match.

I'd love to hear what your favorite plant is, and why.

Happy Saturday!
Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from Red Rose Publishing


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Laura,
Your garden sounds wonderful. I am a roses person myself. Just love them. Of course hubby hates them with a passion. He claims they are always out to get him, just because he gets a few scratches from them now and again. Men can be such wimps.



Brenda Whiteside said...

I'm going to have to try some dead nettles - they're gorgeous. We get a little cold here and not too hot so they might work. I'm not sure what my favorite plant will be here. I have mystery things popping up out front so time will tell.

Vonnie Davis said...

Including rocks in a landscaping project can be incredibly expensive. Who would think? But they are. I'm not surprised it blew your budget, but it worked out in a good way. Look at your lovely plants!

Jannine Gallant said...

Your dead nettles are beautiful! I love anything that smells good - when I walk by someone else's yard. LOL I admire gardeners, but I'll never claim to be one.

Jerri Hines said...

Great job with the plants. Would love to be able to be in my garden, but today it snowed! Hasn't snowed much all winter and it snowed!

Alison H. said...

I've seen those plants many times and never knew they were called dead nettles! They look great. Yesterday I transplanted four volunteer primroses from the back to the front garden because I'm going to have the back planting areas cleaned out to start fresh. I'll have to see how they do. I know what you mean about the rocks - we did that at home, too. They were amazingly heavy but look great.

Christine DePetrillo said...

Your garden looks great, Laura! My favorite plants are the ones that attract wildlife. Catmint, butterfly bush, and weigela to name a few. Every cat in the neighborhood strolls through my yard, hummingbirds zip around the weigela, and a variety of butterflies pop into the butterfly bush. I can't wait until spring!