Saturday, May 14, 2011

Frugal Gardening - Bluebells and Ferns

I LOVE this time of the year and my wooded areas are now quite colorful a few years after I added a number of bluebells and ferns. In both cases, these wonderful plants spread readily in shady spots. So when I drove around surrounding areas, I often would see a yard stuffed with one or the other and salivate with wanting that look. One day I saw a yard just a sea of bluebells and on the spot found some paper and a pen and wrote a note asking if I could buy some clumps, leaving my phone number. I got a call within a day and the person was glad to sell me as many as I wanted. We ended up agreeing on $20 for about a 10 foot square area that she wanted to have dug out for something else anyway. That got me an entire trunkful. Later, in the spring, on a garden website, someone mentioned you could by bulk bluebells as starter roots on eBay. I contacted a seller, and they said if I bought 100, they would drop the price to 35 cents each. It was a great deal as the plants are usually $4 or $5 each at a nursery and you can only buy them in the spring as they go dormant in the summer.

A bit later, I was craving a ferny glade of my own and saw another house with ferns cramped in large numbers all around the basement. Another note, and this time I also offered to trade if that would be preferable. As it turned out, the person was thrilled to trade for hostas and I was thrilled to get the ferns. So a win/win.

Now these plants have established themselves and I give them as gifts to fellow gardeners, sell them at my plant sale, and cut them to decorate the house. They will continue to multiply for years and I now put some in pots for early spring color. So that note and original $20 has long since paid off. If you have your eye on some perennial and your heart set on have loads of them, consider driving about the neighborhood. Chances are if someone already has oodles of the same plant, they'll be happy to sell or trade for something they don't have.

Good wishes! Eileen

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