In coastal Southern California, our cool season is the optimal time to plant. But when summer hangs on well into autumn as it usually does here, I often delay the plant shopping trips intended to fill the empty spots in my garden. The fatal flaw with such delays is that, when I finally get out there, I run head-on into the all-consuming rush toward Christmas that consumes most garden centers. I don't blame them - they need income to stay afloat and selling Christmas trees and other holiday paraphernalia is a big moneymaker. It's entirely my fault when I fail to recognize that the holiday take-over is already underway.
A friend and I made a trip south to Orange County earlier this week to visit two garden centers. Although the trees hadn't yet arrived at Roger's Gardens in Corona Del Mar, space had already been cleared to make way for them, which means there were fewer garden plants to peruse.
|Overview of the garden center's front area from the upper level. The large area already cleared for Christmas trees was in the back (not shown).|
|This demonstration bed near the front entrance is changed out several times a year. The small red and green electric trains always featured during the holidays were already running but the area was otherwise devoid of holiday references.|
|That was not the case in the interior areas|
Our other stop was OC Succulents in Irvine. The year-end holidays weren't an obvious issue there but the prices were. Since the pandemic, prices at this wholesale nursery (and its smaller outlet in Torrance) have soared. Maybe customers with wholesale licenses get much better deals but I didn't see any of the bargains we found years ago when shopping the nursery.
|This area used to feature current "deals" on mid-sized succulents. I didn't see any of those.|
Given the circumstances, my purchases were relatively modest.
|At OC Succulents, I picked up 2 Tillandsia harrisii. One is now attached to the chiminea adjacent to the bromeliad-succulent bed in my front garden and the other has been added to the collection in my lath house.|
I managed to polish off planting the barrels that were left empty when I dug up the dahlia tubers and stored them away for the winter.
|Most of the plants in this barrel in my cutting garden were purchased during my earlier trip up north but I picked up the last orange Calibrachoa at Roger's Gardens|
I also finally addressed the area around our backyard fountain. I'd decided months ago to replace the mess that was there with a variegated Lomandra and purchased a 'Platinum Beauty' for that purpose but I held off because I was afraid that it would quickly get too large for the space and I'd be back to square one. Finding a dwarf Lomandra 'Arctic Frost' was the ticket.
|Dwarf Lomandra 'Arctic Frost' echoes the 3 Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' planted nearby last year. The latter will grow 3-4 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide but, at least at present, the plants look nearly identical.|
|The Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' I've had on hold since mid-summer ended up in another area of the same bed on the other side of Echium webbii, where its mature size won't be a problem|
Yesterday afternoon, in an effort to find a few small plants to fit into the empty spots in the pink-themed barrel planter, I made a brief stop by Armstrong, my local garden center, after a Friendsgiving lunch. Just three days after my prior plant shopping trip, the holiday influence was even more pervasive there.
|The first Christmas trees had already arrived! From the looks of things, they are going to be even more expensive than last year.|
|Christmas decor was all over but no holiday music was playing (yet)|
I've absolutely no issues with the holiday themes that take over garden centers, although I do wish they'd hold off until after Thanksgiving. However, as that's not the trend, I need to factor the ever-advancing creep of holiday preparations into my fall season plant shopping schedule.
Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.
All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party
Too soon to wish anyone a Merry Christmas but you wouldn't know it from visiting nurseries. Expecting this seasonal metamorphosis I decided to embrace it. I even signed up for a wreath making class: a nod to Winter celebration and beloved evergreens.ReplyDelete
The demonstration bed at Roger's Gardens is charming: I love everything about it, especially the hanging moss balls.
Finally, I'm a fan of primrose, so I love seeing them in the barrel, and sweet alyssum will be an excellent companion.
A wreath-making class sounds like fun, Chavli! I vaguely remember that Roger's Gardens offered classes on that in prior years but they seem to have shelved in-person events for on-demand videos since the onset of the pandemic. They currently show a "winter wonderland tablescape" video (featuring items Roger's offers for sale of course) but nothing on wreath-making; however, I just found one from Garden Answer. As I've tried making wreaths the last 2 years myself, with only nominal success, I'm going to watch it in the interest of improving my next go. I expect it'd be more fun with a group, though.Delete
I visited a local garden center/nursery yesterday and since they'd just gotten in a shipment of bromeliads I could have dropped a few dollars. I resisted. The outdoor pickings were mainly conifers, not cut trees though. In fact I don't think I saw a single Christmas tree. I'm sure that will change next week.ReplyDelete
Oh, the potted live trees showed up even earlier here. It's big business and I can't rebuke these stores for putting a heavy focus on tree sales. At least garden centers like Roger's and chains like Armstrong don't eliminate all their standard stock. There's one nursery relatively close that seems to eliminate everything except their indoor plants when the cut trees move in. I should have visited there 2 weeks ago as I vaguely recall they also clear out much of their regular stock with sales beforehand.Delete
Ciao! Le tue immagini mi ricordano molto i film americani dove il Natale arriva negli stati caldi. Per noi è molto strano abbinare il Natale ad un clima caldo visto che notoriamente è freddo e con la neve! Una cosa molto particolare da vedere, grazie :)ReplyDelete
Ti auguro un buon inverno ma al caldo :D
I love the idea of snow, Gabriel, but I am not sure how I would feel about living with it. Despite my Scandinavian heritage, I have lived in a frost and snow-free area for my entire life. I can count the times I have seen snow in person with the fingers of one hand ;)Delete
I hate seeing Christmas stuff so early but I've resigned myself to it. Heck, I've already had some egg nog from the store!ReplyDelete
Your blurb about OC Succulents was very interesting. I wanted to stop by there the last time I was in Irvine, but now I'm glad I didn't invest the time.
I love eggnog but I try to steer clear of it ;) Re OCS, I was hoping that the Irvine location might have those special offers of old, even though I didn't see any at the smaller Torrance outlet. No go! I suppose there's a possibility they may drop some prices after the holidays when inventory time comes around. Their stock is substantial and the plants are pristine but $40 for a 1-gallon size plant is a bit much to swallow, especially in the case of relatively common varieties.Delete
Looks like you had quite a selection. I also wish the Christmas stuff wouldn't come out until after Thanksgiving. Same thing happens here, but oh well. Your barrel planting is lovely!ReplyDelete
My lesson is to get any fall plant shopping done before the end of October in the future!Delete
When I worked at The Growing Grounds in San Diego back in olden days I dreaded the Christmas thing. By the time it was over I never wanted to see another Pointsettia again ! I've never bought one or had one in my house since. In any case, I'm ok with the Christmas gig at garden centers if it keeps them going over the winter-especially in colder climates.ReplyDelete
I've never found Poinsettias all that interesting, Kathy, although I understand that they come in more interesting colors, including some that are almost psychedelic. My local garden center only seems to offer the same old colors, though.Delete
Roger’s looks like such a wonderful ‘proper’ nursery. There are lots of poinsettias in garden centres here for Christmas too, even though it’s the wrong time of year for their colourful bracts. They manipulate the conditions in greenhouses to trick them into putting on their ‘winter’ show!ReplyDelete
Roger's is one of the few "destination" garden centers left within "commutable" distance here, Horticat. It's gone through a lot of changes over the decades and I haven't always welcomed those but overall it's evolved gracefully.Delete
I expect our poinsettias are products of greenhouse culture too. In the ground, they will color up here during the winter months but they're generally ungainly shrubs.
Christmas stuff starts to arrive here in late August. Hard to feel Christmassy when it's 80 degrees outside. My biggest beef from now until March is the lack of any interesting plants. Nothing but poinsettias and white mums then not much until late winter. I agree with you that prices have climbed dramatically. Makes you think twice before tossing a plant.ReplyDelete
August! Most places here at least wait until they clear out their Halloween stuff before they start moving in year-end holiday merchandise. However, despite our relatively warm winters, we also have a long dry period in terms of new plant deliveries, stretching into at least February. Most garden centers seem to conduct their inventories in January so they don't bring in anything new. I suppose that the holidays also impact the plant supply chain :(Delete
Your first photo reminds me a little bit of a plant version of the Roman Colosseum. Rogers appears to be quite the arena for plant displays. Sad news about the pricing, but I think we might be hitting the top of it. Several growers up here have mentioned that sales are starting to trend a little downward. It's hard to tell though. The availability of plastic pots is still very low and there are numerous other supply issues ratcheting up costs. Plus, there's good old fashioned greed mixed in too. I know if I was a grower, it would be hard not to cash in on the craze if people were paying those much higher prices. Interesting times for all of us.ReplyDelete
I didn't realize that there was a plastic pot shortage, Jerry. My local garden center has been accepting plastic pots for several months now. I thought they were recycling in the interest of reducing the volume of plastics going into landfills but maybe that wasn't the driver behind their offer to take pots back. I've been returning mine on a regular basis but have hesitated to "dump" pots that came from other garden centers. I guess I should just load up everything I've stacked up behind our garage ;)Delete
I'm not a big fan of the Christmas hysteria obliterating everything else either - though I do understand that they have to do it. I saw that they have those Dr Seussian ribbon-wrapped lemon cypresses. I bet you they came from Teufel Holly Farm - the sister company to the one I work for. We're in the same building, us in landscaping on the second floor and Holly Farm's Christmas central on the first floor. This time of year, it's an absolute beehive of activity. Hundreds of people making wreaths, garlands inside big warehouses, and big semis transporting it all all over the continent. It's quite a fantastic sight. It starts ramping up in September, and keeps escalating into a well orchestrated frenzy that culminates in December. The week after Christmas, everything is quiet again, until next September. It's quite astonishing...ReplyDelete
I was amused by the Seussian cypresses, Anna, albeit not enough to purchase one. It'd be cute in the middle of the right kind of holiday display. Although I knew Oregon is a hub for Christmas tree production, I hadn't realized how the flurry of activity affects the surrounding communities. Jerry of Botanica Chaotica made similar comments about the massive convoys of tree-laden trucks.Delete
Playing catch up here... I love your new barrels, so refreshing and pretty! ElizaReplyDelete
Thanks Eliza! I've dedicated a few barrels to seasonal color so I always have some ;)Delete