Bargain Time at the Garden Center

I just LOVE a good sale!

You see them just about everywhere – at the big-box retailers, local nurseries, in front of the supermarket – orphan plants, looking for a home. Spring bloomers, their flowers long-over languish on the backs of benches. Some summer flowers cling like wilted crepe paper after a birthday party. The mums, ornamental kale, and fall pansies are drawing all the attention now. The perennials, last month’s Best in Show, are now the shelter mutts of the plant world.

Which means HUGE bargains for gardeners!

Yarrow, rescued from the local Wal-Mart

Got holes to fill in your beds? Starting a new garden? Fall’s cooler temps make it a good time to add some things to your yard. Shrubs and perennials are often deeply discounted at this time of year. (That lovely yarrow in the picture started off as a $12 plant last spring. I picked it up for $2.50. Along with some friends, of course. Wouldn’t want her to be lonely…) The trick is to find plants that are still being cared-for, not abandoned. If the tips of a shrub are dead, leave it at the shop. It won’t survive. Be careful to check any plant you’re bringing into your yard for signs of disease. I had to abandon hope for a pair of hazelnut bushes from the Home Depot that appeared to have fire blight… and it almost made me cry. I’ve wanted them for a while, now…

The only special consideration needed for fall planting is to be aware of your average first frost, and try to give these new guys at least a month to settle in before that date. If an early cold-snap surprises you, water them well and throw a little extra mulch on the roots. Most will survive.

A very tasty rescue!

Don’t limit yourself to just perennials, either. Vegetables grown in pots as “Patio Planters” are also on the clearance tables. With regular water, they’ll give you food for the next month, at least. Bonus!  The 12-inch pot and small trellis will come in handy next year! More good deals: herbs for a winter windowsill garden, and plants in pots that can also be good house plants, like fuchsias and coleus.

Half Price!

Many plant centers put equipment on sale, too. Big, bulky things like pots and trellises that they would much rather sell than store for the winter are often half-price or better. No, you won’t have the same selection as you did last spring, but if you see something you want, the price will be much more appealing. Discount stores are another good place to look. Seasonal merchandise, like hand-pruners and gardening gloves, are practically give-aways in places that don’t carry them year-round. Gotta move out summer, so they can use the shelf-space for Halloween candy! (Or, worse, Christmas decorations…)

Don't forget the seeds!

If you should find a left-over seed rack this time of year, chances are it with have a sign on it saying something like,”75% off!” Why not grab some for next spring? While some seeds, like onions and beets, need to be as fresh as possible, most others are fine held-over to the next year. And, if you find lettuce seeds, plant some now! If there’s a month to go before frost, there’s time to grow a pot of salad greens…

Bargain shopping might be the last big-game hunt out there, gang… Happy Tracking!

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