Friday, May 24, 2013

Like Christmas in May

My spouse and I have cut way back on starting plants from seed for a number of reasons (time and energy being a major reason.  Perhaps, laziness is another.)  I suspect that when we retire, we will get back to starting plants from seed.

We generally purchase plants from a couple of local nurseries who grow their own plants, Nanticoke Gardens  and Tioga Gardens. We also buy (too much!) from the Ithaca area annual extension sale, which I will blog about in June.  Thankfully, my spouse and I are both working right now, and can afford this obsession.

But sometimes, we find ourselves mail ordering some types of plants we find hard to get locally.

It's fun when that package arrives - almost like Christmas in May, except (unless you are forgetful like me and forget what you ordered!) you know what you are getting.

This year, I decided to treat myself to some flowers from Burpees-an impatien that is a Burpees exclusive.  I also ordered a type of basil, Cardinal basil, that I've grown the last several years (except last year, when I skipped my annual Burpees order due to extreme disappointment- a rarity - with my order of 2011).

The plants arrived yesterday, in a plain cardboard box with some ventilation holes.  I've ordered plants from several mail order growers and it is my observation that Burpees provides the best shipping of them all.

 Impatiens are a gamble this year.  A nasty downy mildew threatens to imperil the commercial production of impatiens.  (Thank you, Kathy Purdy, for giving me a heads up about this condition earlier this year.) I decided to buy these plants, nevertheless, and will see what happens.  We have ideal impatien conditions in our yard, and impatiens are one of my favorite flower.
Impatiens tend to survive shipment in good shape, and these came in the box, protected mainly by some cardboard and some paper placed on top of the plants to make sure they stayed damp.

Here are my Salmon Splash plants, taken out of the box.  They look good now but the trip they take does stress them, and they need about 48 hours to recover before they can be planted.
The Cardinal basil is another matter.  The plants come encased in a protective green container (beneath the plants, in this picture).  I will give them their 48 hour rest and perhaps even wait until Memorial Day to plant them.

What is so great about Cardinal basil?  They have thick leaves, bush up nice, are slow to bolt, and when they do bolt, the flowers are red - yes, this is one of the most ornamental basils I've ever seen.

I am still, in a way, amazed that non-dormant plants can be sent in the mail.  Like Christmas in May, the gardener can't wait for the growing season, and the goodies that await.

Do you start your own plants?  Do you travel miles to buy them?


  1. Replies
    1. Just remember, there's no place like gnome!

  2. I love impatiens. I have baskets of them every year on the porch. Boy they don't like hot days though. Sometimes I water them at lunch and in the eve. And, no I don't grow anything from seed. :(

    1. Let me know if that horrible mildrew strikes your impatiens this summer. I hope they are safe down in the Carolinas!

  3. As I type my greenhouse is so full I can hardly walk across it. Unfortunately we have been having what can be politely called "unseasonal" weather. All I can say is the hail stones hurt and our flood defences held up this morning (unlike last weekend). I do a mixture of seed and bought in. I don't bother growing tomatoes from seed and I have just bought a chili plant as I don't think my seedlings are going to grow sufficiently before the snow starts (probably next week!)

  4. Good luck with the impatiens! I was at the Ithaca plant sale myself, wearing my Cold Climate Gardening baseball cap. Did you see me? Got there right at 9am, left around noon. It was my first time, but it sure won't be my last!

  5. I used to love gardening, plantine wonderful cottage plants and herbs and watching them grow. I recieved some rare old-style climbing roses through the mail and they've done well. Now days, I can't bend to tend annuals and rely on the permanant plants in our garden.

  6. Oh, Alana, such goodies! I love the impatiens--the color is lovely! Happy planting!

  7. This is a reminder that I really need to sort out my garden!

  8. I wish I had a green thumb! I tried to grow my own plants from seeds, but had no luck. My most successful garden has been my daylilies. Oh how I love those low maintenance flowers! I look forward to see how your lovely impatiens and basil do in your garden!


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