Posts Tagged With: spotts

Wholesale Euphoria

I mentioned in my last post that Terry took me to a local wholesale nursery last week. We needed to pick up shrubs and perennials for customers, as well as annuals to keep on hand for container gardens.With Buster the dump trailer attached to the pickup truck, Terry and I rolled out of Irvington at 7:00 to make it to Brehob's at the 7:30 opening.

Turns out, there is an entire hidden valley in Indianapolis I knew nothing about, and it is filled with plants–rows upon rows of hoop houses filled unto bursting with trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals for sale, to say nothing of the miles of extra plants being fattened up for sale. And because we're "in the trade," we can buy our own plants at wholesale when we buy for customers. It's a good thing we only go very occasionally. Taking me to the wholesale nursery is like holding a Weight Watchers meeting in a chocolate factory. Frankly, my willpower is just not that good.

Naturally, Brehob's doesn't want a bunch of plant fanatics like me roaming the place and messing with their system. After checking in at the office, we drove to the nursery section (trees and shrubs) where we were met by a nice guy driving a miniature John Deere truck ("Gator," Terrry informed me–the truck, not the guy). We handed him our list and followed him around to hand pick our shrubs. I knew from the web site that they were out of the deutzia I wanted, but I did score an excellent ninebark–'Summer Wine.' By the time we left the nursery section, the truck bed was loaded with bayberries, grasses, dogwoods, and my pretty little ninebark.

We headed to the perennial hut, where I spent most of my time loading everything Terry picked out into Buster the dump trailer. Unfortunately for Terry, they were out of black and blue salvia, which means that Amy F will continue to poke at him for bogarting all the available salvia on the last Brehob's trip, leaving her without any. I lusted after a plum-colored geranium, but decided the scorching on the edges of the leaves was a bad sign. I went with a plum-colored huchera instead ('Chocolate Ruffles').

With time growing short and the sky starting to look ominous, we hit the annual hit. I bought about four flats of annuals, plus some enormous coleus. I couldn't find prices for a lot of things, so I did some guessing. 

By the time we headed out at about 9:30, we had a trailer and truck bed loaded with plants covered with tarps, and I was in the hole to Terry for about $100. Still, for the number of plants I bought, that's a pretty good deal.My ninebark and huchera have settled into the shade border, and the coleus is planted in a recycled metal container to fill out a bare spot there. The window boxes and porch containers are overflowing with white geraniums, purple salvia, and hot pink verbena. 

And a flat of lisianthus awaits planting in the rose bed. The potting bench has been painted and awaits only my BF arriving to help me move it into place. The garden bench needs one more coat of paint, then it too can take its place in the garden. There's still a lot to do, but I may make my party deadline after all!

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Thoughts after a day in other people’s gardens

I've started working a couple of days a week with the awesome Terry and Amy of Spotts Lawn and Garden. This microcompany is based here in Irvington, so I can ride my bike to headquarters in about five minutes. We tool around in a big black truck with a dump trailer attached. We weed, set stones, make garden plans, plant shrubs, pot up container gardens–we're like the organic avengers. It's hard work, but so much fun.

Anyway, I've seen some very cool gardens in the last couple of weeks. The act of weeding provides lots of time for thinking, so here are a couple of the very random thoughts that have occurred on the job:
Uniforms act like an Invisibility Cloak. Weird.
The Japanese hoe rocks. Seriously. Amy F. prefers her gardener's knife (another excellent tool, and one I use all the time), but for those shallow-rooted weeds, I love the long-handled Japanese hoe. 
When we work in public spaces, we spend about a third of our time picking up cigarette butts and other refuse. While butts will eventually break down, it takes a long time, and in the meantime they are trash. Come on people; if you have to smoke, at least try not to litter too. (As a side note, tobacco has been shown to negatively affect the growth of other plants, so don't smoke in your garden.)
I saw the weirdest fungus ever. It had orange tentacles growing off a center mass that looked like a bunch of eyeballs. One was even split like an eyelid with an oozing center. Did you ever see the episode of Angel where someone gets infected by a demon and starts growing an eye in the back of his head? That's what it looked like–with tentacles. I rooted that puppy out pronto.
Old-fashioned neighborhoods have the nosiest (and friendliest) neighbors. When we work in Irvington, people stop, look at what we're doing, sometimes start a conversation. We worked in one of the newer neighborhoods (big houses, no sidewalks) and no one batted an eye. We could have been boosting massive appliances and I doubt anyone would have noticed.
One of the things about seeing all these great gardens is that you become even more aware where yours could stand a little improvement. I knew I needed a few more shrubs (at least one in back and one in front), but seeing these gardens cements it. The shrubs provide structure, some differing height, and winter interest. And there are so many great ones that there's no excuse for landscape designers to keep using the same ten that they seem to love.

There is more to mulch than the bags from Lowes. A good mix of compost and fine mulch covers the ground, suppresses weeds, retains water, and breaks down to improve the soil. It also approximates the dark look of soil really well. As for gravel mulch, don't be seduced. It's a bitch to weed. If you're going to use it for paths or whatever, be sure to put down some landscaping fabric first.

No matter what people tell you, gloves will not keep you from getting dirt under your nails. I've tried digging my nails into soap before putting on the gloves, but I still have to keep a nailbrush at every sink in the house. Also, my hands are like sandpaper. I've started carrying around a thick hand cream to apply between jobs. At least then the gloves with be rubbing cream into my skin instead of just rubbing the skin.

And by the way, those rubber-covered gardening gloves are great for all kinds of jobs. Get ones that fit though. I forgot mine one day and had to use some that were too big. I had to keep flipping the fingertips out of the way, which feels even weirder than it sounds.

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