Plant sale? No I really shouldn’t

I have a close friend who is also a Master Gardener, and as such gets the low down on almost every local plant sale before I’d have any hope of hearing about them. She kindly forwards these sale announcements to me, I think, partly out of kindness and partly to see if I have an ounce of will power. You see, she knows I’m a sucker for a plant sale, even the fundraiser kind where most of the plants end up pricier than at the local garden center.

This past week, she forwarded information about the annual Plant Biology Greenhouses sale that was to include a variety of succulents, cacti, houseplants, orchids, palms, ivies, iris, herbs, coral bells, phlox, yarrow, sedum, sweet potato vines, hibiscus and caladiums. Although the first few items in the list held little interest for me, the sale had me from the first mention of iris. The iris blooming in my garden and around town have been spectacular this year, where cool temperatures and a lack of heavy winds have greatly prolonged the their bloom quality and duration. The possibility of finding a new or unique iris at the Plant Biology sale was too good to pass up.

Yesterday over my lunch hour, I met my friend at the Plant Sciences Laboratory where she had already surveyed and purchased several plants for herself (and even emailed me a photo of the iris that were available). I bee-lined straight for the stand holding the iris, to see up close the magenta Iris germanica (unknown variety) I had seen in my friend’s photo. The pot included six large iris fans and was priced at $10. It was a color I didn’t have already in my home garden, so decided to purchase it.

I also purchased two smaller, single iris fans — ‘Opal Brown’ (white standards/apricot falls) and ‘Dover Beach’ (white standards/light blue falls) — that weren’t blooming for $3 each.

I probably should have walked out of the sale with my three new iris in hand, but instead walked to the other side of the room where the Heuchera were offered. Although none of the varieties screamed “buy me,” the price tag on the medium sized plants ($3) was quite reasonable, so I ended up buying two pots each of H. villosa ‘Brownies’ and H. americana ‘Dale’s Strain’.

H. villosa ‘Brownies’
H. americana ‘Dale’s Strain’

I planted both this afternoon at the base of the North Star Cherry (Prunus cerasus) that accents the corner of our patio planter. I’m hoping that as it matures, ‘Brownies’ will develop the brown tones promised in the plant tag and complement the rich mahogany tone of the cherry bark.

The logical part of me know that I should be better about dividing the plants in my own garden, before I go shopping for more at every plant sale that comes my way. But the plant collector and gardener in me has the most difficult time hearing the words “plant sale” and saying, “No, I really shouldn’t.”

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