I was talking yesterday with Tim Amos, a landscape designer, instructor and plantsman par excellence, about the mindset some people have about planting their gardens. They think that if they don't get everything planted by the middle of July, it's too late to do anything and they should just stop and enjoy whatever they got done.
Well, if you want to stop and smell the roses rather than plant them, that's fine, but it isn't the law, that's for sure. I don't know where people get that notion, but gang, just keep right on planting whatever you want to plant! Especially in Nova Scotia, where we so often have crappy springs but lovely autumns. I still have a bunch of plants lined up against the walkway, waiting for me to decide where the perfect spot is for them. They're all perennials and a couple of shrubs too, but I threw some annual flower seeds out into the garden earlier this week, mostly poppies and a few sunflowers, because they will have lots of time yet to do their thing. In fact, they'll come on later than their already planted and blooming kin, and provide some nice bursts of different colours to go with the usual colours of September.
On reflection, I suspect that the rush to plant comes from the cycle of the farming and veggie garden seasons. Farmers plant their crops and then wait to harvest them; a lot of vegetable gardeners get their cool season veggies planted, then after the risk of frost is past plant their warmer crops, and then that's it, they're done, unless they are the keen types that reseed things like salad fixings and beans every couple of weeks rather than have them all come on at once. And in the past, we bought our flats of annuals, planted them out into beds or containers, and had done with them, because they had been all grown from seed and had to be planted on time or the nurseries would miss the market.
But hey, this is the 21st century, and we can do things differently now. I am forever bringing home plants from nurseries until mid September, (when I switch to bulbs). That means I still have two full months to haunt garden centres and nurseries, looking for unique plants or irresistable bargains I can nurse back to health or the perfect plant to fill in a spot in a bed where I moved something else.
And our locally owned and operated garden centres and nurseries ought to be working harder to educate customers that they don't have to do it all at once. They need to capitalize on the fact that by mid July, the bigbox bullies have pretty well killed off or sold all the plants in their socalled garden centres and are getting ready to close up. NOW is the time for the local nurseries to put the push on to attract more customers. Some of them are doing that by making themselves very much into destination type nurseries and garden centres, offering plants but also other things, such as a cafe, garden art and accessories, books, workshops. They can bring in more interesting plants later in the season, (they could have been seeding some annuals themselves to use in containers for late summer and fall, or brigning in plant plugs from the big growers, etc). They could be encouraging the use of shrubs more, and offering really good choices; some of them do, of course, and some of them make excellent display gardens so that customers can see the plants in situ and be inspired to try them for themselves. Some of them have excellent, knowledgeable staff, which is critical to success in today's market.
I want to see all the locally owned and operated centres and nurseries around the province--and around the region--not just survive, but thrive, which is tough when you have the bigbox bullies trying to suck up every spare dollar around.
There are some local nurseries that ARE seasonally operated, of course, and that's fine. But we can all be working to encourage our fellow gardeners to keep on planting all season long, and to support our local nurseries all season long too. I walk around the garden here at home now, and some would say that it's 'finished' being planted for the year. But it's not. I have two new sections built, neither of which I'll get 'finished' this year, but which I am putting interesting new plants into as I find what I want and decide on the right space. In fact, I'm going out shortly to visit Blomidon Nurseries, Gerry's, and of course Wayne and Wayne's, because the daylilies are coming on to peak bloom very shortly and I want to get some more new daylilies--as soon as I see what they look like in flower.
So I'll keep on planting, and hope you will too.