Monday, May 24, 2010

Canoe Cove Perennial Sale

It was a beautiful day on Saturday, the skies were clear and the weather was warm.  A perfect day for a plant sale.

The community newsletter advertised rhubarb and manure and the good news is I got both.  The other good news, depending on how you look at it, is that I bought a lot of plants.  I know I don't have any flower beds to put them in but how was I expected to resist?!  They were selling plants for $1 - $3!  All things considered I think it could have been a lot worse.  So while I'm contemplating where to put these plants I thought I should do a little research into what I purchased.

Some of my purchases were old loves.  When we left BC I had to leave all my plants behind.  There are some plants I simply can't do without and I'm looking forward to establishing colonies of them again in my new home.  One of those is Lady's mantle.  Alchemilla mollis has the softest leaves that I love to pet (some plants have wonderful tactile qualities, not just looks or smell) and they hold raindrops in such a lovely way.

I also purchased dahlias.  Many people at the sale were turned off of these lovely plants because they need to be dug out each year but not me.  I love dahlias.  They come in an amazing array of sizes, colours and shapes.  They bloom late in the season when other plants have closed up shop.  And by digging them out at the end of each year I can move them around easily if I decide I'd like a splash of colour somewhere else.

I also purchased a butternut tree.  I know, ANOTHER tree.  In my defense I was egged on by a neighbour who said "oh you've got TONS of room, you should take it".  I'm thinking it will be used in the back hedgerow which could use a little rejuvenation.

Other plants were impulse purchases.  Now I should know better than to purchase unknown plants on a whim, particularly from a local perennial sale.  Donated plants are usually there for a reason.   The term that comes to mind is 'thugs'.  These are usually plants that are big and rambunctious, throwing their seeds to the wind, sending their roots out to visit with the neighbours and then staying.  Because they're so rampant people usually have a lot to give away.  People like me, overcome with spring fever, can hardly restrain themselves from taking them all home.

That noted, may I introduce this cute little fellow.  Macleaya cordata or Plume Poppy.  Sounds nice doesn't it?

I picked this guy out of the heap because I thought it was a poppy and I loved the foliage.  A gorgeous blue green colour fringed with purple.  How can a gal go wrong?  A look at my go-to plant encyclopedia 2850 House And Garden Plants by Rob Herwig states it grows 6 - 10 feet tall, oh my! Has plumes of pearly-white flowers and is invasive.  Oh my.  They should just put a picture of me in that book and label it sucker.  The people over at Gardening Gone Wild were much kinder in their description of the plume poppy and it made me feel a little better.  I do have a lot of room and maybe I can find an area to accommodate this fellow.  He really does have nice foliage.  And on a property this big I think big plants are really the way to go.  Small plants would be out of proportion with the house and yard so this could work to my advantage.  (work with me here, I'm trying to take a positive out of this situation)

With the proportion theory floating about the next flower looks like I bought it on purpose.  I didn't.  I was standing there looking at the label "Golden Glow" and thinking how nice that sounded when another lady said "oh those are so nice, they get about 5 feet tall and have big yellow blooms like a sunflower".  Big sunny pretty flowers, Sold!  A quick internet check (what in the world did we do before internet?) turns out that this purchase is actually a Rudbeckia laciniata.  See here.  Apparently this is an heirloom type of coneflower sometimes called Outhouse plant.  Likely it would have been planted to obscure an outhouse from view.  If it can obscure an outhouse how big do you think it gets?  Back to my 2850 House and Garden Plants and it tells me Golden Glow gets to be 6 feet tall.  It is also a vigorous spreader.  A polite way of saying it will take over your yard if you turn your back.  But pretty, OH MY.  I love yellow.  I love flowers you can cut for bouquets.  I might regret this but I'm planning on enlarging the flower bed in front of the house and I think this will look amazing with the white birch and lilacs.

Now if someone could remind me next year not to lose my head and purchase plants based solely on a fancy name it would be much appreciated.


  1. Sounds like you had fun, semi invasive plants aside! My rule of thumb is that if you go to a plant sale with a cart, you will leave with a full cart. There's no getting around it. The fevered frenzy in those sale keeps you grabbing for just one more plant!

  2. Hi Laura, I didn't even have a cart! Had to get a friendly neighbour to help carry everything to my truck. You're right about the frenzy though, everybody's grabbing stuff and you just have to jump right in.

  3. Around my part of the woods (Portland, OR) plume poppies are pretty popular (sorry about the glaring alliteration) but I have yet to grow one. Maybe I'll take a chance on it if I see one for sale.
    I think community plant sales are the best kind. And you got manure, too!

  4. Hi MulchMaid, I don't think I even admitted how much manure! They had cow and horse (fresh and composted) and mushroom compost. I took several bags of each. It really was a great sale.