The other day, I drove down our gravel path with a car load of summer snowflakes piled into cardboard boxes and shopping bags. Our friend had them in his landscaping, but he is crazy and didn’t want them. They’re perennials, though he didn’t know it, so they would not be killed despite his best efforts.
“I’ve tried everything,” he complained. “Poison… cutting them down... fire…”
Like he really didn’t want them.
So when they came back this year I asked if I could dig them up and take them to a home where I knew they’d be doted on - mine.
Since I got interested in interior house plants, I’ve learned that you can buy all your plants from the store and be content, but you will spend rather more than you anticipated, or you can take it slower and wait for the right plants to come to you.
I’ve gotten many of my house plants from generous friends who propagate their own for fun (I do this now, too). I’ve been given plants as gifts, now that everyone who knows me knows how much I love them. I’ve even grown some from kitchen scraps and just liked the way they looked.
So, now that spring is here, spending a zillion dollars on landscaping this old farmhouse of ours just doesn’t sit right with me. I know from experience that, if we are patient, we can slowly build things up one plant at a time and keep it reasonable - if not downright cheap - budget-wise.
I’ve got a loose plan based on layering, texture, and color, but I’m keeping it flexible and sentimental and taking it very, very slow.
Here’s a list of my priorities as I look for my next planty additions, and maybe you’ll find some ideas there, too:
1. Plant things I can’t kill
My grandmother insists that rose bushes are an essential part of any good landscaping scheme, and I have to agree with her. At our former house, we dug up a gigantic, ancient rose bush at my parents’ house and just shoved it in the ground in our backyard with crossed fingers. The next spring, it bloomed as though nothing had happened, despite it having been severely cut back and transplanted (probably at the wrong time of year). I want things like this - indestructible and beautiful at the same time. Kind of like my grandmother.
2. Collect all the perennials
I have literally no desire to dabble in annual flowers that I have to replant every spring. It’s a money pit, it’s hard work, and I don’t even really like the looks of most of them anyway. I want to plant any bulbs I can get hold of this year so that, hopefully, I won’t have to do a ton beyond weeding and some TLC come spring 2020. Plant it once, love it forever.
3. Double dip with potted plants
A common practice I learned from my husband’s plantman-barber: keep some houseplants outside during warmer months, then winter them indoors. That way, even semi-annuals can be buy-it-once plants. Plants like Elephant Ears and Aloe Vera, among many others, are quite happy with this arrangement. With the right light and proper watering, many plants hit their stride outside (plant forums online are telling me this will even rescue my feeble Fiddle Leaf this summer). A green garden in summer, a #jungalow in winter. Perfect.
4. Propagate when I can
Some plants are so easily spread that it feels crazy to buy them. As my grandmother says, if I want a Forsythia bush, I can “just cut off a branch and stick it in the ground.” Why would I buy one then, if I can simply ask a neighbor for a cutting?
EDIT: I have done this since I began writing this post by hacking off some forsythia branches at the park (shhh) and I have high hopes!
I want to see this part of our house as a layered work - something to build upon year after year. Yes, I have bought some staples to kick-start the structure since it’s all bare right now, but the extras are what will give our house personality. What I have bought have been very small plants that will grow over time to keep costs down and give us time to fill the gaps as we wish.
What is your approach to this type of thing? Do you want to fix it and forget it, or do you like pottering around with cuttings and getting creative?