Trades

Hosta "Lemon Lime" divisions, sent by Michael Laico, newly potted up and ready to grow.

Hosta “Lemon Lime” divisions, sent by Michael Laico, newly potted up and ready to grow.

Blogging friend Michael Laico offered a plant exchange on his site right after the Fourth of July.

He grows and hybridizes Hosta, and hoped to trade some divisions of Hosta for other plants he wants for his garden.

Michael offered up a miniature Hosta, called “Lemon Lime” which grows to about 8″ high.  It sounded perfect for growing in pots on the deck.

This Hosta offers beautiful golden green leaves and scapes covered in purple flowers, much enjoyed by hummingbirds.

Reblooming German Iris, "Stairway to Heaven."

Reblooming German Iris, “Stairway to Heaven.”

I offered a re-blooming German Iris, “Stairway to Heaven” in exchange; and the deal was done.

It has taken us about a week and a half to dig, prepare, and post our plants.

July 18, 2014 package 001

Michael received my package of Iris and some rooted Begonia cuttings on Wednesday, and I received his package of Hosta and Japanese Iris today.

What fun to get a package of new plants in the mail!  And how satisfying to exchange plants with friends.

Sometimes it is good to have a little faith that a friend’s gifted plant will be something you’ll also enjoy growing.

The plants as they appeared when I opened the box this morning.  They look healthy and ready to grow!

The plants as they appeared when I opened the box this morning. They look healthy and ready to grow!

Although I don’t grow many Hosta, since they are basically deer candy in our garden; I love Hosta foliage and flowers.

They are dependable shade perennials whose foliage can stand alone or provide an interesting backdrop for other plants.

I would have a garden full of them were it practical.  The six we planted our first season here survive- barely- even through nibbling after nibbling when deer finagle their way through the fences and into the garden.

Our Hostas were badly grazed early in the season.  This one blooms bravely, despite its chewed and mangled foliage.  yes, I do know about all of the deer repellant sprays on the market, and I use them every few weeks...

Our Hostas were badly grazed early in the season. This one blooms bravely, despite its chewed and mangled foliage. yes, I do know about all of the deer repellant sprays on the market, and I use them every few weeks…

So I will enjoy this H. “Lemon Lime” as a potted perennial, grown well out of reach of hungry deer!

I haven’t made up my mind yet whether to pot the Iris or plant them directly into the garden.

Since they love moisture, I’m leaning towards a pot whose moisture I can control; rather than taking a chance on drought or voles devouring these iris before I get to enjoy their blooms next spring.  Photos to follow….

Michael's Hosta divisions, ready to pot up.

Michael’s Hosta divisions, in good, rich soil, ready to pot up.

So thank you, Michael, for offering this exchange. 

Not only is it fun to trade plants, it is a very economical way to expand one’s garden.

These divisions are potted up with a rooted Cane Begonia cutting, which will have white flowers.

These divisions are potted up with a rooted Cane Begonia cutting, which will have white flowers.

I shipped USPS Priority Zone  Mail, and paid a little less than $7.00 for postage, which included tracking and $50 in insurance.

Here is the Begonia before I planted it tonight.  See the new stem growing from a node?  The rooted cuttings I sent to Michael already had miniature plants growing from the node, ready to grow into a new plant quickly.  These Begonia canes have been rooting in water for several weeks.

Here is the Begonia before I planted it tonight.   See the new stem growing from a node? The rooted cuttings I sent to Michael already had miniature plants growing from the node, ready to grow into a new plant quickly. These Begonia canes have been rooting in water for several weeks.

The plants traveled from Virginia to South Carolina in a day and a half.

Michael shipped Fed Ex.  It took about the same time, and his well packaged plants arrived in great condition.

These newly planted Hosta divisions looks a little droopy, right after planting, but will adjust quickly to their new home.  Hostas need shade and moisture to thrive.  These got a drink of Neptune's Harvest fish and seaweed emulsion immediately.  The roots are strong, and new leaves will appear with a week or so.

These newly planted Hosta divisions looks a little droopy, right after planting, but will adjust quickly to their new home. Hostas need shade and moisture to thrive. These got a drink of Neptune’s Harvest  fish and seaweed emulsion immediately after planting. Their  roots are strong, and new leaves will appear with a week or so.

We both poked holes in the boxes for ventilation, and packed the roots of our plants in damp medium and Ziplock bags.

So if you’d like to grow H. Lemon Lime for yourself, and have something interesting to trade, please hop over to Michael’s site and leave him a message.

He has great photos of the mature Hosta in bloom on this page, should you want to take a look at the beautiful flowers it produces each summer.

I promise you it is well worth the effort.

July 18, 2014 package 029

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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“You Get What You Pay For!”

These three Colocasia plants were all purchased through the mail this season.  The tall Colocasia "Black Runner" arrived from Plant Delights Nursery on april 2 in perfect condition.  The tiny Colocasia, "Pink China" plants arrived last night in poor condition.  You get what you pay for!

These three Colocasia plants were all purchased through the mail this season. The tall Colocasia “Black Runner” arrived from Plant Delights Nursery on  April 2 in perfect condition. The tiny Colocasia, “Pink China” plants arrived last night in poor condition. You get what you pay for!

A blogging friend wrote to me last night:

“After having similar disappointments, I’ve vowed to buy local (and not box stores, where money doesn’t stay in the area).   Local nurseries deserve our business and support.    They are hardworking members of our community, and because they are local, their products are often superior. Face to face is great way to build community.    I’ve been buying from the same guy for over 20 years. His prices are great, his plants are at the pinnacle of health and his hanging plant combinations are pure art. We are lucky to have him. I think there are many good mail order companies,   like your caladium grower, but I shy away from the big operations, whose quality has gone down over the years. I guess that old adage, “You get what you pay for” is true.   Let’s hope this post gets MBC’s attention. Good luck!”

And of course she is right.  Knowing I wanted to plant a dozen or more Colocasia plants this spring in a long border across one end of the property, I was shopping for “deals.”  Plant Delights  Nursery, Inc., near Raleigh, had every Colocasia I wanted to plant in this area.  But because their plants run from $16.00 to $20.00 per plant, plus their higher shipping rates, i succumbed to the temptation to purchase some of the plants elsewhere.

I searched for the cultivars I had chosen from the Plant Delights catalog, and purchased them where I got a better deal.

So, in retrospect, I didn’t get a better deal.  I got a lower price on far inferior plants.

April 12 2014 Colocasia 002

Plant Delight’s staff worked with me and shipped my order exactly when I requested it.  It arrived in perfect condition.  Notice that the Colocasia “Black Runner” is a large healthy plant, in a larger pot, with an excellent root system.    They shipped on April first, and I received the order on April 2.  Everything in the order was hydrated, large, and healthy.

I sent off an email to let Plant Delights  know the order arrived in good condition.  Virginia Meehan, their manager for customer service and shipping, replied to my email personally;  to answer a question and thank me for my order.  How can a company’s service get better than that?

So, let’s just break this down a bit.  The Colocasia “Black Runner,” in a 24 fl. oz. pot cost $16.00.  It is healthy, with a great root system, and was over 18″ high when it arrived.  It will go into the garden as soon as we get through this next spot of cold weather on April 15 and 16.

The Colocasia, “Pink China,” seemed like a bargain at $7.49 from Michigan Bulb Company, so I ordered two.  I expected to receive bare root tubers to start myself.  But, having run out of tubers, they substituted these tiny little plants, in plug pots.  They spent four days in transit, arriving yesterday  dried out with yellowed leaves.

The plants as they arrived in the mail last night from the Michigan Bulb Company.

The plants as they arrived in the mail yesterday  from the Michigan Bulb Company.

Since the photos last night, the plants have had an opportunity to rehydrate.  I have  trimmed off the damaged leaves.

The C. “Pink China”  won’t be able to go out into the garden for quite a while.  I’ll pot these up to larger pots today, and baby them along until they grow larger.

That is why ordering plants through the mail is so dicey.  When you find a good company like Plant Delights, cherish and support them.

Another blogging friend wrote to recommend a local Virginia mail order nursery, located near Charlottesville, called The Lazy S Farm Nursery.

“Dear Woodland Gnome: sorry you got such a rotten delivery. I have ordered repeatedly from this company http://www.lazyssfarm.com/Plants/Perennials/A_files/Ac-Ag.htm right here in Virginia and they are awesome. The plants arrive pampered and beautiful. Their website is hard to navigate and awkward but their plants are beyond good.   Try them out. You’ll like them.”

She speaks so highly of her experiences  that I will definitely give them a try.

Of course it is always best to buy locally, from nurserymen you know, whenever possible.  But no nursery can stock every conceivable plant you or I might want to grow.  Sometimes we have to search for a particular genus, species, or cultivar.  When we find it, we place an order online and hope that what they ship arrives healthy and ready to grow successfully.

When you mail order plants, please remember to let the dealer know right away when the order arrives.  Unpack the order just as soon as you can.  Document any problems with photographs.  And them shoot off a quick email to the company.  Make sure to thank them when the plants arrive in great condition, and specifically describe any problem the plants might exhibit when you unwrap them.

Reputable nurseries want you to be happy, to speak highly of them, and to order again.  Reputable nurseries replace damaged stock when you document the problem and notify them immediately; within the first day or so after you receive the order.

“You get what you pay for.”  Good advice, and so very true.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

April 11, 2014 Homestead Plants 002

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