It is a good time of year. We can very nearly say with almost sort-of, closing in on possible certainty that there will be no more snow for a good 6 or 7 months, the plant sales are in full swing, the plant-specific festivals are rockin’ it HARD olde school (emphasis on olde), and people are cleaning the crap out of their sheds and basements. And that crap, dear reader, may very well end up as my crap.
Last Saturday was the annual Parkdale Horticultural Society Plant Sale or what I like to call, you better get there early and you had better lace those fightin’ shoes up extra tight and be ready to kick major butt cause those gardeners are tougher than you’d expect! And they are very serious about their sale plants. And to be honest I am very nearly choking on the word “sale” as I type this because while some plants were indeed sold at below market cost (as you shall see from my awesome scores below), I spotted a number of plants that were priced higher than plants I have seen at bourgeois garden stores. NICE TRY Parkdale Horticultural Society members. Sure the money collected from the sale goes towards altruistic endeavors, supporting local gardens and feeding starving children and saving the world or whatever but you can’t make me spend $3 a piece on your repotted strawberry offsets or your they’re-native-therefore-worthy-of-a-big-markup plants.
I’ve been attending this thing for years now and there are always one or two surreal moments in that community center gym that make me stop and ask myself, “Who are you?” My inner voice sounds exactly like Brenda Walsh when I say it. [Okay, pause for a moment. Now Davin and I are arguing about who said that. He thinks it was Kelly to Brenda and I think it was Brenda to Brandon.] Like those few seconds when I was stuck in the crowd, pushing my way in slow motion through a sea of bodies and carts towards the Shady Perennials Table feeling like an early eighties mom fighting for the last 5 Cabbage Patch Kids. And then by the time I reached the table all that was left was the not-so-cute one with a weird name like Geneva Mary Rose or Mercedes Brandi Lynn.
Despite the chaos I managed to walk away with some pretty good scores and what’s more there was still a dollar or two left in my wallet. It was so busy in there this year, and with no must-haves or a list for that matter, I abandoned a lot of my usual strategy and headed for the Used Garden Stuff Table much earlier than scheduled. And who knew, but there was actually a lot of good, cheap stuff worth buying! I usually focus so hard on plants that the stuff table is very near empty by the time I reach it sporting nothing but an ugly basket and a handful of really banal garden art. Here’s what I got this year:
In the Category of Used Garden Stuff…
- A Heating Mat – I don’t really need another mat but it was only 4 bucks. I am yet to plug it in to see if it actually works. I have a small fear of used electrical items and have a long history of persuading others to initiate that first plug-in. Hmm…. I guess that kind-of makes me a total jerk who values my own life over that of my friends.
- Vintage Egg Collecting Basket – Also something like 2 or 3 bucks. I’m going to use it to collect produce from my community plot. So I can strut through the neighborhood showing off my harvest like a primadonna.
- Square Metal Container – $1
- Old Metal Watering Can – $3 This item was originally unmarked. My inquiry sparked a conversation about Martha Stewart with the ladies at the table. One woman suggested that if I slap a coat of fresh paint on it and plant it up Martha would be proud. I disagreed and said that Martha would prefer that I leave it as-is therefore honoring the aged patina.
- Jerusalem Artichoke – 3 pots for $2 each. Total impulse buy.
- Bloody Dock – $2 each. I have one at my community plot that I put in last year but couldn’t resist two more. They’re pretty!
- Heuchera – I forget which type but one of the purples.
- Siberian iris – Purple flowers.
- Dianthus – 2 at $2 each. Pink flowers, I think.
- Miscanthus sinensis ‘Giganteus’ – $3. Seriously. 3 BUCKS! I told myself I was only going to put in native grasses from here on out but then the whole painted wall incident forced my hand. This grass grows to be about 12 feet tall with stalks that are as hard and thick as a thin bamboo. Crazy.
- Euphorbia tortilis – I got this one for Davin. In order to retrieve this plant I had to push my way into a dead end and then fight my way back out again while the prickly thing repeatedly came unearthed scratching my hands up. By the third time Davin was getting that plant whether he wanted it or not.
- Sarracenia purpurea – FLOWERING! I bought this one from the vendors room.
In the Category of Living Plant Materials…
Recent Garbage Pickings
On Tuesday afternoon, while out for a walk to run errands and take pictures of plants (I am the queen of multitasking) I happened upon a pile of crap strewn about a lawn in the usual way (albeit minus a helpful sign) signifying, I have recently purged this old junk from my basement. Please take my crap! So I stopped to look, scouring the piles of scattered items quickly with my eyes hoping not to find anything therefore over encumbering myself with heavy, awkward objects that I would then have to haul all the way back to my place. Note how I look hoping not to find something. No such “luck” tis time as the former owner of these goods was obviously a gardener and the pile of stuff was mostly comprised of interesting seventies era pots. I stood my ground and left the pots where they were but could not resist picking up a large, shallow enamel basin (will make an excellent succulent garden), 3 tin dishes (perfect as pot trays), and 6 small, decorative, orange window boxes. I very nearly resisted their charm walking away twice and finally putting them in my overstuffed bag to take home. I couldn’t help imagining them filled up with chartreuse colored greens. Damn imagination!
But the best thing, the thing I DID NOT bring home because it was WAY too big to lug and probably not worth the effort was this awesome seventies era hydroponic kitchen gardening kit.
Believe me, I contemplated this one long and hard. In the time it took me to consider it the owner came out and we chatted about it. I got the impression he owned the house but not the stuff. Some dudes fixing up the house next door came over to ask me what was so interesting. I’m guessing they were also wondering what that crazy person was talking to herself about but were too polite to ask. In the end I decided against it because only the shell of the product remained. All of the original hydroponic gear was missing. Plus I don’t have a window or proper light in my kitchen. Admittedly my attraction was all about the box. That beautiful box. Sigh.
Actually, when I think about it what I really wanted was the kitchen in the photo on the box. Like if somehow THAT kitchen with the amazing striped yellow wallpaper was held inside the box and I could take it home with me and open it up, magically transforming my own kitchen into a beautiful gem, hold the brass knick-knacks. And complete with a window, because oh how I crave a kitchen window.
So I took pictures instead. Because boxes do not contain seventies era kitchen remodels and a photograph takes up an insignificant amount of space on my hard drive while a big, useless box has no place in my life.