I spent a wonderful hour at the garden center near my house that I love so much this afternoon. I have told the girls that if Scott ever needs a gift idea for me, just send him to The Growing Place and tell him to pick out anything there for me... plants of any sort, garden accessories, seeds, bulbs, components for creating a fairy house, statuary, trellises... really any of it. I love all things gardening, especially the way they are displayed at this place, with its lovely idea gardens, all artfully planted and tended.
Today was so pretty, sunny and blue skies, fall colors blazing. The girls came with me, and I reminded them on the short drive to The Growing Place to soak up the vibrant colors of the leaves and sky so they can be warmed by their memory during the bleak days of winter (this idea is from the mouse, Fredrick, in the storybook by the same name). We all agreed to do just that. :-)
I went right to the perennial tables at The Growing Place. There aren't many left at this time of year, only a small fraction of what is usually offered. But I came today knowing that because of how late in the planting season it is, the perennials are being offered for 50-75% off their regular price, and since I have added a new perennial bed this fall, I have space to fill. I knew the plants wouldn't look great by now, but I was a little surprised at how bedraggled they appeared. Many had drying and withering leaves underneath and they all seemed like they had definitely seen better days. I poked through them, reading labels and turning pots around and around, looking for the ones that appeared to be worth buying.
I had picked out a couple of plants when a sweet older woman, her white hair pulled into a bun at the nape of her neck and topped with a ball cap, approached me. I know this woman to be a long time employee of The Growing Place, and quite wise in the ways of plants. She looked at some of my plants and answered some questions I had about particular varieties. Then she said something that has seemed more and more profound to me as I've thought about it the rest of today.
"Remember, you are buying the roots."
In the climate where I live, perennials die away every year. At least the part we can see does. But when the weather slowly warms again in the spring and the sun shines longer each day, they slowly re-emerge, sending up new plants that grow and blossom.
I bought a lot of plants today. How could I not, at 50-70% off? Most of them don't look too good. But as I took them out of the small black plastic pots that have held them captive all season and planted them into good soil late this afternoon, I thought about their great roots. I thought about planting things that look half dead. I loved having my hands in the dirt. I loved the digging of holes and filling them with good roots. It was kind of like planting bulbs, tulips and daffodils, knowing that there will be a long, cold wait until the beauty appears.
Gardening is like that. Dirty. Waiting. And then beautiful. I like it. What a great idea God had.
P.S. A few have asked me what I planted... most are unfamiliar to me as of now, so I really look forward to seeing what they do next year! Here are the names: Crambe cordifolia (also called Colewort- this looks SO interesting, it supposedly grows 4-6 feet high and has huge leaves and clouds of tiny white flowers), Phlomis fruticosa (also called Jerusalem Sage), Campanula, several red Coreopsis, Sweet William, Veronica "Blue Bomb" (also called Speedwell), Silene caroliniana (also called Wild Pinks), some perennial snapdragons (really different looking foliage than annual snapdragons), Lychnis chalcedonic (also called Maltese Cross or Jerusalem Cross, has bright scarlet flowers), and last but not least, Armeria juniperfolia (also called Alpine Thrift).