Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Forgive Me Native Plant Gardeners For I Have Sinned

Please forgive me fellow native plant gardeners for I have sinned. In the outdoor gardening section at Lowes Home Improvement I noticed they'd started selling native plants. You can buy Milkweed, Goldenrod, Geraniums, all in nice wonderful 3 gallon pots right alongside the nonnative, ... we'll call them "trash" plants, like Butterfly Bush, and Rose of Sharon. I call these trash plants because I'd never buy most of them. I have been taking advantage of their natives they offer and I praise them for even labeling them as native. Take a step inside though and it's a different story.

Trilliums, Mayapple, Hepatica, Bloodroot, Native Irises, Assorted Ferns, and so on all sold in tiny packets for $2.48. There is little doubt in my mind that they're from questionable sources who probably dig them up from the woods trying to make a quick buck. I did a post about these earlier in the year, about how I'm never going to buy these again.

Look closely thought and you'll see they're all marked down on clearance for .25 cents each. I asked the clerk about this and he said "They're on clearance to make way for holiday stock. They're going to be thrown away if no one buys them."

So I thought why not? I'd hate to let native plants go to waste. And for .25 cents it sounds more like I'm wasting the time of whoever went out into the woods and dug them up.

The most shocking plant they offered was this, Trillium catesbaei. Supposedly it's hardy here but New Jersey is well out of it's native range. The Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, roughly one hour south of me, has one (just one) they planted as part of a trial garden. They found that it's hardy but not happy. In the 20+ years it's grown there it's only in the past few years that it's finally sent up a second shoot.  

As much as I'd like to call these black market plants, I honestly don't know. I don't think anyone knows for sure. All attempts to contact the company to my knowledge have resulted in dead ends. From what I can tell from the packets, the Mayapples seem to be root cuttings. The Rhizomes to everything else look incredibly small. I'm on the fence as to weather they're growing them from seed and selling them ASAP, or only digging up new plants.

Whatever the case I assure you my backyard is better for these plants than the trash can.

(As a side note. When I went to buy these, the poor casher had to change the price on each item individually which took up a lot more time than it should have. I went back a second time and snagged a manager to tell warn them of the coming doom I was about to impose on some casher. They opened a register specifically for me and were able to scan one of each type of plant and change the quantity as well as price. This required a manager's key card to get scanned multiple times and went by so much smoother.)