In Appreciation

 

Three Elephant Ears finally arrived today.  Here they are after being unpacked and watered.  Elephant Ears love moist soil, and their roots need a constant supply of moisture to support their large leaves.

Three Elephant Ears finally arrived today. Here they are after being unpacked and watered. Elephant Ears love moist soil, and their roots need a constant supply of moisture to support their large leaves.

 

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not,

but rejoices for those which he has.”

Epictetus

I am very grateful today that our spring order from The Michigan Bulb Company is now complete.

A large box arrived this afternoon; many times larger than  a box to hold the three tubers for Colocasia “Black Magic” Elephant Ears that I ordered on March 4.

And in the box were three reasonably healthy Elephant Ear plants

I am grateful they are finally here.

June 6 elephant ears 002

“Go to foreign countries

and you will get to know the good things

one possesses at home.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The Michigan Bulb Co. and I have become regular correspondents over the 14 weeks it has taken to fill my order.  We started off well with the order confirmation and a promise to ship the Elephant Ears so they would arrive between April 10 and 15.

They made it clear from the beginning that my order would ship out in stages, with the onion sets and Lilac shrub arriving first.

Everything else in the order was set to arrive right around our normal frost free date, which was appropriate.

On April 4, an email informed me that the order processing was complete, and the remaining plants would still arrive between April 10 and 15.

The second part of the order as it arrived on April 11.  Michigan bulb did replace these plants when notified of their condition on arrival.

The second part of the order as it arrived on April 11. Michigan bulb did replace these plants when notified of their condition on arrival.

But, when the next part of the order arrived, the Black Magic Elephant Ears were missing.

Michigan Bulb said they were temporarily out of stock  and were on back order.  Disappointing, but fair enough.

So they wrote a note again on April 17 to inform me that my new delivery window was April 24-27.  But that didn’t happen, either.

Then on May 6 Michigan Bulb assured me the missing Elephant Ears would arrive between May 15 and 20, but….. You guessed it!  No plants.

But they are faithful correspondents.  I heard from customer service again on May 27 with the promise of my already paid for Elephant Ears sometime between May 30 and June 4.

The three wooden stakes are a nice bonus, and I'm grateful to have them.

The three wooden stakes are a nice bonus, and I’m grateful to have them.  I can also reuse the twist ties on the Clematis…..

Somewhere in here I found time to take their customer service  “Satisfaction Survey.”

Was I a happy customer?  No.

Would I recommend Michigan Bulb Company to a friend?  What do you think?

Maybe someone read my survey.  Who knows?  But, they faithfully stayed in touch.  A “Shipping Confirmation” showed up in my email on June 3.  Did I dare to believe the plants might be on their way?

What is a leaf here and there among friends?  If the tuber is healthy, it will grow lots of new leaves this summer.  Would you bring this plant home from a nursery?

What is a leaf here and there among friends? If the tuber is healthy, it will grow lots of new leaves this summer. Would you bring this plant home from a nursery?

 

“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”
  John Henry Jowett

Well, they arrived today, June 6, 2014.  I’ve made a note on my desk calender.

Although I ordered dormant tubers, I received plants.  Yes, there are tiny little tubers in the pots.  Each plant cost $7.49 plus the shipping, but without any sales tax.

Now, I’ve been watching the stock at Homestead Garden Center.  They’ve had Colocasia esculenta plants for several weeks now.  They offer a healthy plant three times this size, in a much larger pot, for $9.95.

(And yes I’m especially grateful for the very honest and reputable Patton family, who have become an important resource  to gardeners in our community.)

This is the quality of plant you'll routinely bring home from the Homestead Garden Center.

This is the quality of plant you’ll routinely bring home from the Homestead Garden Center.  Begonia Richmondensis

I can’t tell you how often I’ve been tempted to simply buy their Elephant Ear plants and attempt to cancel this order.

But, I was beyond another series of interactions with Michigan Bulb to even attempt  a cancellation.  They money was already spent….

So, I waited it out.  And I am grateful the plants arrived today in good shape.

June 6 elephant ears 001

Is there a moral to my story?

If you live in a very rural area with no good nursery nearby, and want a plant unavailable locally, your alternative is to order what you want to grow.  I mail ordered Colocasia in early spring because I wanted certain cultivars which aren’t commonly offered by local nurseries.

If you enjoy hunting for “bargains”, there are certainly bargains available from many mail order nurseries.

But there are also scams.  I often find plants listed at “sale prices” in catalogs from several well known mail order nurseries, which are actually three times higher than what the same plant retails for locally .

You have to know the going rate, or you will pay way too much for many popular mail order  plants.

So, as with so many other things, “Buyer Beware.”  What appears to be a deal, may just end up as a headache.

 

Remember to shop locally whenever possible.  Rose Scented Geranium.

Remember to shop locally whenever possible. Rose Scented Geranium purchased at the Homestead Garden Center this spring.

 

“Develop an attitude of gratitude,

and give thanks for everything that happens to you,

knowing that every step forward

is a step toward achieving

something bigger and better than your current situation.”
Brian Tracy

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Finding Spring

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English primroses

This morning my friend and I went with my partner to the Homestead Garden Center in search of a breath of spring.  After all, we turned our calendars over today to March.  We wanted to celebrate the day, and the new month, with a visit to our friends, the Pattons, who so lovingly and generously encourage our mutual love of all things green and growing.

Homestead Garden Center this morning, before the plants were brought back out of the greenhouse.

Homestead Garden Center this morning, before the plants were brought back out of the greenhouse.

It had just nudged above the freezing mark when we set out this morning, and the sky was low and grey.  Bundled in our gloves and hats, wrapped in our coats, we pulled in mid-morning to a still and silent shop.

Roxy and Dustin left the warmth of the office to greet us.  Only a few brave Violas and some shrubs filled the racks, normally packed tightly with an ever changing array of beautiful plants.

We had come to see the hellebores, and no hellebores were in sight.  It was so cold last night that nearly everything in bloom had been tucked back into the greenhouse before dusk, and so to the greenhouse we were led.

Hellebores

Hellebores

When Dustin opened the door, and led us inside, we found the spring we had come looking for today. 

March 1 garden center 008

Warm and humid, condensation dripping on us from the roof, we smelled the warmth of potting mix and the aroma of all things green and growing.

Violas

Violas

And the color!  The carts were packed with bright blooming things waiting to go back outside once the sun shone and the air warmed.

March 1 garden center 006

We were met with Ranunculus, just opening their first buds in screaming shade of scarlet, gold, and pink.

Ranunculus

Ranunculus

Pots of vivid English primroses, and planters packed with bright Violas waited to be wheeled back outside to greet whatever hardy customers turned up today.

March 1 garden center 014

Row after row of Hyacinths, Muscari, parsley, Verbena, Heuchera, and dozens of other tiny plants waited their turn to grow large enough to leave the greenhouse for the world beyond.

March 1 garden center 007

The sheer joy of it.  Dustin gave us our pick of the everything large enough to leave.

March 1 garden center 010

A rare treat, as the greenhouse is rarely opened to shoppers. 

My friend gathered her Hyacinths for the celebration of Noruz, coming on the 21st; and we both selected parsley and hellebores.  I gathered more Violas.

Flats of parsley ready to pot up for spring sale.

Flats of parsley ready to pot up for spring sale.

We filled the back of our car with flowers and parsley. 

March 1 garden center 012

We are also keen to try the mushroom compost, a new product at Homestead this season.  We’ll dig it in to our pots as we plant our starts, and use it as a topdressing on some of our beds.

The rich, composted manure used to grow mushrooms will  improve water retention in the soil, and will perk everything up for maximum spring growth.  Because some brands of mushroom compost have higher levels of salt than other soil amendments, it isn’t  recommended for starting seeds.  This organic product is wonderful on established plants, however.

The mushroom compost we purchased is the stack on the far right.  The Pattons sell only organic soil amendments, fertilizers, and growing aids.

The mushroom compost we purchased is the stack on the far right. The Pattons sell only organic soil amendments, fertilizers, and growing aids.

After a visit with Roxy in the shop, selecting seeds, looking at new pots, and stocking up on fertilizers; we finished visiting and pulled away.

The sun had broken through the low clouds a time or two while we shopped, and we could feel the morning warming- if only a little bit.  But we had a car load of spring time.  The aromas of the greenhouse still  filled the the air as we drove home.

March 1 garden center 003

Brunnera, “Jack Frost”

With yet another winter storm barreling across the country, poised to hit us tomorrow night, our pots and flats fresh from the greenhouse were carefully tucked into sheltered spots once home.  But we have them.  They are ready to go out into the garden on the next thaw.

We found spring today in the Patton’s greenhouse, and we brought a bit home with us.  Happy March!

March 1 garden center 013

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Photos taken at the Ulster American Homestead Garden Center

March 1 garden center 002

Soil with a lot of manure in it produces abundant crops;

water that is too clear has no fish.

Therefore, enlightened people should maintain the capacity to accept impurities

and should not be solitary perfectionists.

Huanchu Daoren

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