Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Thrifty Tip: Acquiring Plants and Flowers

Take one walk through your local nursery and you'll discover plants and flowers aren't cheap. Over the years I've acquired all of my plants and flowers for free or nominal fees. I know you probably aren't shocked since that is just how The Little Blue Bungalow works...on the thrifty side. So in the spirit of Spring...I thought I'd share with you some tips on acquiring plants and flowers with limited resources.

When I first moved into the bungalow over three years ago, I was dumb founded as to where to start. Our house had been "flipped" and instead of leaving the existing mature bushes and plants in my flower beds they literally had been stripped bare. I was started from ground ZERO. No plants and no money to make a difference. What in the world was I going to do?

My first step was to determine what was even in my flower beds. (Tricky for a Midwest girl now living in the Pacific Northwest!) Even though they had stripped most plants out a few bulbs managed to poke through the first sight of spring and something was trying to grow on the west side of the bungalow. I nursed the plant back to health and discovered I had a beautiful pink climbing rose. Now I knew what I had, but I needed more...lots more.

My first step was networking...Who liked to garden? Who had a garden? Was there a gardening club in town? I was excited to discover that year our church (The Rock Church) hosted a Gardening Gals reach team. From there, I met our fearless leader Jane and other ladies who loved to garden willing to share their plants with me. I was in heaven. Every time we met someone came with their car loaded with "splits" and "starts" of bushes and flowers for me to plant for absolutely FREE.

These experienced gardeners were happy to share their plants knowing they in turn were containing their own plants and making them healthier by splitting. (Just like I'm happy to share if anyone needs some plants!) Honestly, I didn't care what color it was or the type of plant as I was building a base of flowers at my own home. Over the years, I've rearranged and moved these original plants to my desired liking...something I never really knew about gardening. If you don't like it there...MOVE IT!

In addition, to my gardening group I befriended my neighbors gaining a variety of bushes, strawberry starts and other flower starts. I also went to the annual town's gardening club plant sale where I bought flowers and plants starts for only a few dollars per start compared to the $7-10 I would have paid at a nursery. During peak planting season I also check local nursery clearance areas as sometimes I find a plant that got a bit damaged by cold weather or smashed by a heavy object. These stores usually mark these plants down considerably since they don't "look" the best, but as long as the root system is intact you'll have an amazing plant next year...definitely worth spending a few dollars for a big gain next year.

In the Seattle area we are very lucky to have the online networking system called CraigsList. Through CraigsList, I often see many plants and flowers listed for FREE if someone will come and dig them off their property. If your careful most plants can be transferred easily even roses. Last year I picked up three rose bushes off CraigsList and I'm happy to report they are doing great. I pruned them heavily after transplanting as well as giving them a nice cup of organic rose fertilizer. In turn, I had three happy rose plants that produced many rose buds for me last year. With mature rose bushes costing easily $25-$30, transplanting these bushes for free was a great deal.

So...in closing...the big key to being thrifty in acquiring plants and flowers is NETWORKING! Get out there...meet the gardeners...share your plants...and enjoy the the beauty of God's art.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
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1 comment:

Anisa and the Schell Fam said...

Great tip! I have done a few tings this way, mostly bulbs. I've been a bit afraid to try more. But I will keep at it! You inspired me!