14 April 2010

Urgent Plant-Seeking Madness: Do you have this Condition?

In my previous post I mentioned how the initial signs of Urgent Plant Seeking Madness (UPSM) were upon me, as witnessed by my foray out on Saturday "just for a look" and my return home with the car packed with plants. Ooops.

Others of you have commented that you've also been stricken--or smitten--with this condition. You may have it and not even be aware of it, or you may already be in the full-blown condition. In the interest of public (garden bloggers) health, I thought I'd offer a reprise of a post I did several years ago, with some additions and of course shiny new photos. Gotta have more pretty pictures, don't we?

UPSM affects a broad spectrum of individuals. It’s closely related to Urgent Plant HUNTING Madness, which is a less-known form that causes botanists, nursery operators, garden writers, and other plant enthusiasts to go off on forays to exotic locales such as the Himalayas, outer Mongolia, central Africa, and Newfoundland and Labrador. UPHM sufferers should have bumperstickers on the backs of their vehicles that say, “I brake for interesting plants”.

There is no known cure for either affliction, other than a change of seasons, or an exhausted bank account. Even an overflowing garden doesn't cure the situation. You'll figure out ways to make more beds. Who needs boring ol' lawn, anyway?

Here are the warning signs of UPSM:

1. All winter you’ve been salivating over blog posts, catalogues, websites and magazines, learning about new plants.

2. You’ve got a list longer than your regular grocery list of ‘Must Have’ plants.

3. You can’t pass by a nursery, garden centre, or even a bigbox asphalt ‘garden centre’ without going in. Just. For. A. Look.

4. You come out of said business with at least one garden-related item. Probably more like six or seventeen. Or two dozen. Or so.

5. You carry a tote box, plastic trunk liner, spade and bucket with you wherever you go.

6. You find the need to have to go run errands far more often. No matter that the price of gas is approaching that of a dentist appointment. There are plants to be checked out!

7. Your grocery budget takes a dip towards hamburger helper, peanut butter, and canned soup.

8. You start parking your vehicle around the back of the house, so as to unload your ‘groceries for the garden’ (as my friend Flora and HER long-suffering spouse call these outings) more conveniently (and out of view of your long-suffering spouse, who’s getting tired of peanut butter sandwiches and hamburger helper).

9. An enormous queue of new acquisitions lines itself up along your walkway in your dooryard (That’s Maritimer-speak for driveway/walkway/front yard), or your holding bed, or your greenhouse. Or your kitchen. We do what we gotta do to protect those new little darlings.

10. Despite that enormous queue, you continue to suffer from UPSM and to seek out nurseries, plant sales, yardsales with plants, garden centres, plant giveaways…

11. The first thing your longsuffering spouse says to you when you come home from an expedition is “Where are you going to plant THAT?” The second thing, of course, is “what are we having for supper? Not MORE hamburger helper!”

12. You blithely say, "Oh, that's been here for years!" when confronted about the new magnolia or Japanese maple or plot of hellebores or three dozen Osteospermums that have suddenly appeared in your yard. You change the subject to, "When are you going fishing, dear?" or some such diversionary tactic.

13. You plan Sunday drives/family outings so that they'll accidentally go past nurseries. And then, well, since you're in the area, you need to stop in. Just. for. a. minute.

14. While longsuffering spouse drives, you scan roadsides for houses with tables of plants for sale, even though you KNOW they'll mostly be stuff you already have. And damned ol' goutweed.

15. You make up excuses to go off by yourself for drives. Just to do some thinking, you know. (and because you don't want to waste valuable vehicle space with other family members.)

You can’t wait for the next trip so you can do it all again!


  1. My goodness, I have the full blown condition. I'm glad there's finally a name for it. Another big problem I have is becoming obsessed with a certain plant variety. If I see something in a blog or magazine I have to have IT, not another pink & yellow VERY SIMILAR peony, but THAT ONE. I'll call around, have my garden centre check their lists for summer orders, even if it's January, just so I *know* if it's coming or if I have to look elsewhere. It's really quite a serious condition. I also accumulate too many plants in the 'holding area' aka front porch. Once it gets rediculous, out come the shovels and I either squeeze them in or start ripping out grass. Not exactly preplanned every time, but it's how I roll. ;)

  2. Dear Jodi, This has been such a wonderful and amusing read and has brightened up a wet, cold day here in Budapest no end.

    I think that we have all been sufferers but, eventually, we find the cure: lack of space and, as you remark, an empty bank account, and, on occasion, the realisation that there is so much to be seen, too much ever to be acquired, that it must simply be enjoyed in another's garden. To that end, I much enjoy garden visiting - a way of ownership without possession.

  3. Jodi - I just realized how many of those signs apply - is there any cure for UPSM?
    I do have ten variations on Hamburger Helper - can send them along?

  4. I laughed so hard. I ended up reading this to my long-suffering spouse, and he also broke out into laughter. You know that uncomfortable 'I've been there' kind of laugher.

    Seriously good stuff!

  5. Oh dear I have both afflictions and probably from birth. There's no hope for me, is there. I'm loooooooooooost, forced to scour the earth for plants for ever and ever. Sniff. ;-)

    Fun post Jodi and thanks for the pointers on how to disguise that I've bought even more plants. ;-)

  6. Jodi, I am definitely a fellow suffer. I do try to stop myself when I know that I will not have time to plant the plants but... I always have pots of plants waiting to go into the ground. At the moment there are quite a few, so I am trying very, very hard not to buy too many more. Somethings just have to come home!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  7. Ah, peanut butter and hamburger helper, LOL! Here it is eggs for dinner, a very inexpensive, easy to fix meal. The plastic tub in the back of the car is a necessity, supposedly there will only be enough plants to fill it and no more. But the tub is deep and the plants don't mind being stacked on top of each other if we are careful with the stems. A garden full to the brim with plants does not seem to matter with this affliction, either. :-)

  8. OH ... Jodi girl ... I am so glad NOT to be alone with all of those symptoms .. even my car is adapted for this season .. the back seat folds down for MORE space .. one of my favorite sayings when with husband .. "I'm JUST LOOKING .. I'm not going to buy this time !!" .. yeah ... something like "I DON'T really like chocolate but if your having some .. I'll keep you company "?? HA !
    UPSM support groups any where girl ?
    Joy ;-)

  9. Lucky me my husband suffers from the condition too.

    Gotta run plants to plant.

  10. LOL! Not me! Never! (Yeah, you believe me) Lucky for my husband, he knows how to cook. I've licked peanut-butter off of a spoon for dinner a few times recently.

  11. Great blog! Made me laugh out loud! I have found the cure for your affliction having suffered from it for years - become a garden designer and then you get to create lots of gardens and buy lots of beautiful plants but don't have to go (so) broke doing it!!
    However I have since developed a similar affliction which is slightly cheaper: Garden Seeking Madness. The Spring-fuelled urge to escape from my desk and run round all my favourite gardens to see what is new and what has changed design - wise. Hole Park yesterday pm was divine! Sissinghurst in the evening too, must go back for photos in better light..

  12. What in the name of all that is sacred is hamburger helper?

    I must admit, I do draw the line when it comes to food. There's no way I would eat crap for plants. After all, I have to justify my over-priced cookery gadget addiction!

  13. Guilty (or should I say infected?) on all counts!!!

    off for another plant fix...........

  14. It's good to know that I do not suffer alone with this condition. I especially like the part where you try to "sneak" new plants into the garden, despite the fact that they are all lined up in the holding zone next to the driveway!

  15. So enjoyed your post....am still laughing. I can identify with several of your comments!

    Cheers, Kathy

  16. Yes! I suffer from this very affliction. HOWEVER, I have found a cure, though it won't work for everyone. Because I'm a professional designer I can get nearly any plant at wholesale cost. That newly released $15 1 gallon plant at the retail nursery? I can get it for less than $5. Being the super-frugal person I am I don't allow myself to suffer from instant-plant-gratification (Inner dialogue: "but I can just get it now and save myself the trip!" "No! You will get more than one and the trip will cost much less than you will save." "Fine then!"). And the bonus is that I have to drive 45 min completely out of my way to get to a wholesale nursery so it really helps keep me from buying so much stuff.

  17. Hilarious! Though, of course, I have no idea what you're talking about...;-)

  18. LOL -- I think Murphy's Laws must apply to UPSM: the seriousness of the condition is directly proportional to your budget and gardening space. :-) In that vein, I am mildly afflicted, I think. Great post.

  19. I enjoyed your funny post! Oh, how I can relate....cereal is also a good dinner. :)
    I always sneak in a few little plants when I go to the grocery store. I have also heard the..."Where are you going to put that?"

  20. I can hear everyone out there laughing at themselves. I know I am not the only one who has all of these signs of addition. When hit in the face with the truth they say it is good to confess so... I am a UPHM addict. LOL. Too cute Jodi.

  21. I always make sure that if I want something done to the inside of my house, I do it all in the winter before the first flowers are up in the spring. Because all my money goes to plants in the summer. I don't care what the inside of my house looks like till October, when the family-gathering holidays start popping up lol.

  22. Thanks for identifying my affliction. It is definitely UPSM I must be suffering from. I must add one additional warning sign, though :"Taking sick leave from your day job to go plant-shopping or sitting at your home to watch your plants grow - every day, every hour, every minute, every second"

  23. Hey Jodi girl...I loved it...so true isn't it! I have a couple more to add to your list. One..when the LSS ask if you want to go for an icecream and say "O.K" even when you know you shouldn't have one but the best icecream cones in our area just happen to sell plants also!! The other is when we leave our plants in the vechicle until the next morning when he's off to work or what-ever so you can sneak them to the back yard!!! lol
    At least all of us sick gardeners know what the best medicine is....

  24. Jodi, this is GREAT!!!! I definitely suffer from this affliction. I sighed a sigh of relief to hear that I'm not the only one driving around with a shovel, bucket, etc. in the back of my car. I've often wondered what I would tell a police officer if I were stopped and questioned. I love this post!!!

  25. Garden club this morning introduced me to a new nursery, in the next town but one. So the climate is still right. Two addicts off to start our autumn collection ...

  26. A support group is needed...I say, let's meet at my favorite nursery next weekend~~There's an open house and sale! We need help to carry all those plants to the car! gail

  27. It's too dark for me to work in the garden any more today. So, I came in to check out my friends at Blotanical. Pat and I have our own copies of the local garden center's magazine. Symptoms, symptoms, what symptoms? I have plants to move and sweet peet to order because I've run out.
    Great pics and post. jim

  28. When you need plants for a new planting area, you decide not to divide the overgrown ones in a nearby flower bed but to go to the nursery and buy new ones -- and, of course, whatever else you decide you have to have while you're there! :-) -Jean

  29. Guilty! I am especially known for the, "This? I've had it since at least last year...I just transplanted it over to this new spot" excuse. I also sneak plants in from my car a few hours after I get home...although I got busted last week when I forgot about them until we went grocery shopping and opened the back and...whoops! How did those get there?!
    Great post!

  30. Totally. I spent $20 extra at the fruit market today and I SWORE I wouldn't spend any more money on plants till the visa bill was paid and I actually received the perennial and rose order i submitted last week. Make it stop! (Oh no, please don't).

  31. Oh dear, I may have this too. Last week end we went to a garage sale because they had plants and I was actually disappointed because I already had all the plants they were offering in my garden. Now my plan is to pack along plastic bags and a pair of scissors so I can bring home cuttings of new plants.

  32. I usually come down with this illness every spring, but for some reason I've kept it under control so far this year. It's so tempting to buy something now that the garden centers and nurseries finally have stock in, but I know it's still early for annuals because we could still get a late freeze. But wait, what is that lovely blue and white striped bloom?? Uh-oh, I think I may be coming down with UPHM instead:)

  33. I definitely have this, and I infected my husband as well. It just makes things easier. I don't get the heavy sighs and questioning looks from him anymore. In fact, the last time we went "for a look" I got few seed starter trays and he had a flat of perennials with him saying, "Is that all you're going to get?" Followed by, "We have lots of food at home, we don't need to spend that much at the grocery store this week, right?"

  34. I got it and got it bad, Jodi! With everything exploding in the garden (81ยบ today), caring for my garden and our Village Gardens, I can't keep up but lovin' it!

  35. Thanks for the laugh - I so often feel like that, and feel so trapped by family & work commitments, that prevent me from my plant shopping / hunting. I also watch for watch for houses marked for demolition, in case there are plants to "rescue".

  36. Too funny! I am so glad to see I'm not the only one suffering from this condition. My friends and family enjoy gardening but they aren't obsessed with it as I am. They just give me funny looks when I get all excited about a new plant. Tomorrow, I am going to a nursery I found that sells hellebores. The weather is supposed to be in the 40's but I don't care.I've wanted a hellebore in my garden for years but my local nurseries don't sell them. I am as excited as a kid going to Disney World.

  37. Hi Jodi~~

    It's somewhat cyclic I think. I've been through so many phases, at this point, I'm more less, well, I was going to write, "content" but that would be a lie.
    I guess you could say that the blood isn't pumping and the adrenaline isn't rushing as breakneck as it/they once was/were. The nursery jaunts are more of a perusal... no long lists paper lists, just a few notes on my phone. No monopolizing the clerk with inquiries, just a fun curious venture. Number 6, for instance has a twist. Rather than looking for excuses to run errands so I can make a nursery side trip, I find myself with a renewed verve for the ROUTINE outings. Like, instead of the typical, necessary pep talk, "Okay Grace, get dressed. It's time to go..." It's "Oh, after I drop the kids off, I'll run over to Nursery to see what's on the sale rack."

    Number 12 is all too true and must be employed with the utmost skill in an effort to pull wool over Hubby's eyes so he won't see the word "guilt" etched across my forehead.

    There are other twists: 13, 14 for example. NEVER plan a plant outing with a reluctant, whiny, complaining non-gardening family member. Not worth it. There are plenty of kindred spirits aka fellow USPMs who are more than willing to be an accomplice. And if perchance garden buddies are all MIA, a 15, deferred solitary trip will be far more enjoyable than the stress of a hurried trip.

    Number 8 is a big yes.

    Finally, I'm not sure if this happens in your neck of the woods but here, OAN--Oregon Assn. of Nurseries has a huge promo in September to "enlighten" people about the merits of fall planting. To take that one step further, garden writers [guilty] advocate visiting the nursery several times a year to get up close and personal with the seasonal bloomers.

    They know what they're doing. And it's working.

    Great post, Jodi. Nice to see I'm not alone with my idiosyncrasies.


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