This time of year we hear this comment too often – What is on sale ?, What is special?, What can I buy cheap?
One thing you can always be sure of is that everything is ‘Special’. If you buy quality plants (or really any item you purchase) , you probably expect to pay more than a lower quality – how does that go again? ‘You get what you pay for’. This rings true for everything – from bolts to tools to landscape plants. I always say, if you can afford to be cheap, then do so – buy the cheap item – and buy often. Buy quality and buy once – this is most important in the purchase of plants – buy a better plant, and your landscape starts to grow sooner – more consistently. In Alberta, every year is valuable – we have short growing seasons and have to take advantage of every year – plant once and grow.
Why do most garden centres have massive sales at the end of their year? Some of it comes of tradition – planting in the spring and dumping stock in the fall. Some of it has to be lack of confidence in their plant material – it might not survive the winter. If it can’t survive the winter, what kind of quality does that suggest? We store our plants where they sit – in our container areas. The only issue we have ever had is winter desiccation – in those long Chinooky winters when the dry westerly winds blow repeatedly. During those times, we water our container stock. The old adage “leave the hose out – if it is not frozen, water – if the hose is frozen, don’t water”. Our plants survive the winter in containers – so really it is not much of surprise, they survive in the ground. We do not have to get rid of stock at the tail end of the season – we can over winter our stock – in fact it is more valuable because it is established and ready for next spring – not of lesser value.
One should not under-value their product – if it is of good quality in June, it should be of equal quality in September. I think it is always sad to buy something and then see the same item at 50% off just because of the time of year or season , it just makes you feel bad. It can make sense for annual flowers – those which should be planted early, enjoyed and then composted in the fall, but it makes no sense for woody and perennial plants. Although, don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy selling plants and making deals – I just really want to make sure it is fair for all of our customers – the early ones as well as the late ones.
Fall is still one of my favorite times for planting – as I wrote earlier – it just shouldn’t be because things are cheap – there are lots of better reasons. While we are on the subject – why do most people wait for a certain time to plant in the spring? As soon as you dig a hole, you can plant – then the overwintered plants really make sense – we can provide plants early if we don’t have everything out of the ground when you need them.