When you purchase plants for your garden, how many do you buy? Do you buy one of any given variety? Do you buy them in odd numbered lots ? Or do you fill your wagon with only one type of plant?
Up until the last year or two I was a one by one. I'd only buy one of any given variety and grow it on in hopes that I could increase it and divide it in future years. Looking at the plants in my wagon last year I can see that I only bought one of these unusual Polygonatum (can't find the name of the variety right now).
Sometimes it's the price that keeps me from buying more than one of any variety. Other times it's knowing that while I could squeeze one more plant into my straining borders, three would be too many.
Some plants seem to require more than one pot planted in a single site. I've been buying different varieties of Astrantia each year for 5 years now and still can't say I have a single area where they call out and say "look at me". As much as I love the individual bloom, I rarely find myself looking at them in the garden.
Going through my photos I could only find two examples of Astrantia even though I know for sure I have white and pale pink varieties. As you can see in this photo (besides the weeds there) when you step back only a foot or two, the Astrantia really doesn't "pop" into view at all. This would be the ideal example of the need for 3 or 5 pots of the same variety to be planted in the same location.
Tradescantia 'White Doll' is a favorite of mine. I wish I had a better photo of it, the incredible whiteness of the blooms seem to blur on my camera. 'White Doll' is a wonderfully behaved plant, it's never sent out seedlings nor underground runners into the neighboring plants. It clumps up instantly, enough that I've been able to divide it every few years to share with other people.
The best thing I ever did with 'White Doll' was the first time I divided it I planted all five divisions in the same area. Now when I dig a piece and divide it I always put one division back so there's still five plants forming a group.
Of course when it comes to Sedums and Sempervivum I only need one variety. They are so easy to propagate that I consider it a waste of my money to buy multiple varieties.
On one of the gardening lists I belong to there is a witty writer from the Netherlands named Gerrit. Just this weekend Gerrit posted about PPD (Plant Purchasing Disease) aka PAS (Plant Aquiring Syndrome). It's good to see that I'm not alone in the world but that others also share in this raging sickness.
Unfortunately, Gerrit has found that the only medicine that keeps this monster under control is Mucho Dinero and like the pharmacies in the Netherlands, the pharmacies on Long Island have not yet received any shipments of this product.
Tonight I'm giving a lecture out in the Hamptons. While I will see many other gardeners who have found the miracle drug Mucho Dinero, I'm afraid my paycheck will only be enough for a quick fix.
So tell me, when you buy plants do you buy them one by one?