Friday, January 25, 2013

Is plant acquisitiveness a disease?

Since moving into this house 2 years ago, hardly a week has gone by that I haven't set foot in one plant nursery or another.  I'd like to claim that I just cruise through out of curiosity to see what's new but, to be truthful, I rarely walk out empty handed.  Is plant acquisitiveness a disease?  Should it be added to the next encyclopedia of mental disorders?

My husband recently tallied our 2012 purchases.  It appears that plants and garden supplies were at the top of my list of personal expenditures.  And it would appear that I'm getting off with a bang again in 2013.   During the first week of the year, I put in the following:
Grevillea lanigera 'Mount Tamboritha'

Loropetalum chinense 'Shang-hi'
I needed the drought-tolerant Grevillea to fill an empty space in my dry garden below a Guava tree and near a Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre", Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' and Phormium tenax 'Apricot Queen" I put in last year.  This Grevillea is reputed to bloom almost continuously so it's a bargain, right?

I needed the Loropetalum to fill in a spot formerly occupied by annuals in my backyard border.  Its foliage is darker than that of any of the other Loropetalums I've seen on the market so it was perfect to provide color contrast against the pink-flowered Argyranthemum frutescens and Cuphea 'Kristen's Delight' planted nearby.  The purchase was clearly appropriate.

Last Saturday, a friend and I went to Rogers Garden, a nursery in Orange County, ostensibly to listen to a talk on using shrubs to provide structure in the garden, although the Rogers gift cards burning holes in our pockets may have factored into the trip just a little.  However, I feel I exercised some self-discipline in restricting most of my purchases to plants already in use elsewhere in my garden, thereby treating one of the principal side effects of my plant acquisitiveness disorder:  hodge-podge garden design.  I bought 2 more Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre" for the dry garden and 2 more Hebe for the backyard border (albeit different varieties - 'Patty's Purple' and 'Wiri Blush).  However, I admit that I veered a little off course with 2 other purchases:
Leucadendron salignum 'Chief'

Chorizema 'Bush Flame'
I do have 2 other Leucadendron.  I acknowledge that those are in the front yard while 'Chief' went into an empty spot in the dry garden that I thought would benefit from a tall specimen.  But this genus has done so well at our new house, how could I pass up adding another when I have space available for it?

In honesty, the Chorizema was a complete impulse purchase, although I think it will complement the 3 Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' I have in the back border.  I broke another of my personal rules on this purchase and got it in a large container instead of the small containers I try to stick with but it was the only size Rogers had so what could I do?  I saw this plant years ago on a garden tour in Santa Monica and I still remember the impact of its magenta and orange flowers.  Passing up the plant the first time I've found it in a local nursery would have been a crime, wouldn't it?

I've noticed that a number of garden bloggers have recorded their first plant purchases of the year so at least I'm not alone in suffering from plant acquisitiveness disorder.  (Check out danger garden and Parallel 49 Palms & Exotics for accounts of their new year's purchases.)


  1. I think the most shocking thing about this post is that you actually allowed the total of your plants and garden supply purchases for the year to be added up! That's playing with fire! I would rather not know my total expedatures, ignorance is bliss.

    1. Unfortunately, I'm not able to control my husband's behavior in this regard. He's a scientist by training and creating records is a habit he can't seem to break. He used to give me pie charts showing my annual expenditures - at least he's stopped that! It just goes to show that years of eye-rolling can have an impact.

  2. Yeah, it's not polite to count :). Unfortunately I usually know how much I've spent on garden related "stuff" too because I use a credit card for everything and reconcile and classify all the charges in an excel spreadsheet (some tendencies of bean counting just cannot be left in the office). Most nurseries are not open here for four or five months of the year and the ones that are don't sell plants so that can put a damper on the spending sprees. Although there's always mail order. When April hits watch out!

    1. I'd probably go crazy if I couldn't go nursery shopping for several months (although I'm sure my husband would rejoice). I visit mail order nurseries too. It doesn't help that I get regular notices from Annie's Annuals & Perennials in NoCal advertising her current offerings. I'd sworn off annuals until I got Annie's video clip on those yesterday!

  3. It's totally a disease! Aren't you sooo happy you caught it?!

    1. Overall, Louis, I think it's a good disease to have. It helps keep a check on the other mental disorders that would probably develop without gardening as a diversion!