Sunday, April 11, 2010

But Honey, I NEEDED it! Honest!

Currently I’m surfing quite an adrenaline high! Yesterday, I went ‘window shopping’ at one of my garden center haunts – to see what I could see. I brought my big, strapping son with me for some ‘mother-son’ bonding (“college-man” isn’t home too often, so I take advantage of any time I can get). While it’s still early in the garden season here in IL – there were plenty of treasures to behold…

Before I even got through the gates to garden bliss, I noticed a large section of Emerald Green Arborvitae on skids outside the entrance. As you will recall – I’m still in therapy over the loss of two little sweet arborvitae this past winter (bad rabbits!). Well these new plants on display were on sale – AND over 4 feet tall! That’s it – the window shopping now got a lot more interactive. I had to have at least one!

"New" and "Injured" arborvitae - in their new 'homes'
(The potted arborvitae will find a new place in the 'SW Garden')
Then as my son and I walked through the garden gates, I started to salivate (just like Pavlov’s dog). While the flower selection was limited to cold climate charmers, like pansies, etc., the perennials were bountiful. My son started to eye me suspiciously. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of a PJM Rhododendron, in the most stunning shade of purple…. That’s it, I was done for. My heart raced, my palms started to sweat and I knew one of these pearls was coming home with me.  

As I have mentioned in a number of previous posts – I have not had success with Azaleas and Rhododendrons. I contend that it’s been because I haven’t had the right environment – up until now! The ‘Shade Garden’ to the east of my 3-season room has eastern exposure, with only morning sun (a “must” according to the growing specs) AND it is fully protected from the harsh north and west winter winds! Could THIS be the winner?!? Only time will tell! 

So with a twinkle in my eye, I grabbed a big cart and headed for check out. I was ‘shocked’ when my son accused me of ulterior motives of our ‘bonding’ time, as he hefted the arborvitae on a flat cart! When my husband came home and saw 5 feet of arborvitae on the front stoop – the first thing he said was “I thought you were just ‘window-shopping’?” I sheepishly smiled, and said, “But honey, I needed it! Honest!”


  1. I also take my son to the nursery with me for 'bonding time', but he is sure it is only for his muscles!

  2. Why do men still believe us when we tell them we are just window shopping? LOL!

    The most important thing for azaleas is that they must have acidic soil. They do really well when planted under pine trees.

    Another thing is that they are not at all salt tolerant. One storm surge from a hurricane wiped ALL of my azaleas out five years ago. I know you are nowhere near the sea, but if they salt the road in the wintertime, the run-off could be an issue.

    I don't know what zones up north they can survive in, but you could plan on covering them next winter. We built makeshift greenhouses for our birds-of-paradise, which will not tolerate anything under 40 degrees. (We had freezes this winter) We kept them warm with Christmas lights. Believe it or not, it worked.

    Hope this helps...

  3. Sheila - aren't kids 'the best'! I figure the manual labor offsets all the groceries we feed them! ;o) Thanks for following my blog! (I have to tell you I have fallen in love with your "Moon Garden"!)

    Deb - Thanks so much for the info on Azleas! There may be hope for me yet!

    There are actually spruce trees hanging over the fence (near where I want to plant the bush) from our neighbors next door. I'm not ashamed to scoop up some dried out pine needles for mulch around the azalea (or is that too much?).

  4. I've done that. Your azaleas will love it. We have mostly long-needle pines here, and I've been known to sit in my garden with scissors and patiently cut them into manageable sizes.

  5. Why is it so hard to convince non-gardeners that you DO actually need all of those plants?

  6. Hmm. I find going plant shopping with my daughter usually involves her coming home with two new trays of seedlings, a pretty pot, three packets of seeds and a little fairy to sit in the garden. And me? I get to carry it all! Clearly I'm doing something wrong.
    BTW - that azalea is a wonderful colour, my palms would have been sweating too :D

  7. Deborah - this is great news! I'm so stoked! (Thanks!)

    Grower Jim - Thank you!!! (I'm showing your comment to my family!)

    "GG" - You should have seen the expression on my husband's face when we dragged 3 more arborvitae in the backyard yesterday! I called it the 'grumpy face' -- he reminded me of how much he "loves" this season! :-o (P.S. He does truly love the end results of the garden, he just likes winter better than summer.)

  8. Shyrlene, I enjoyed the vicarious shopping. I barely resisted the temptation to stop a my favorite nursery when I was out doing errands on Saturday. I didn't stop only because I knew I would never come away empty-handed, and it's still too early to plant here. But soon it will be time to put my plant boxes in the trunk so I'll always be prepared to stop at a nursery and buy plants that are calling my name! -Jean

  9. The best things to buy are ALWAYS the things that you didn't go out for. It's like you even surprise yourself!

  10. Shyrlene, who can blame you?!?! And you won't be the last to have to face the spouse with tail between your legs. Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. :)

  11. I love it! I drag my girls to nurseries too, luckily they like it most of the time. It's hard not to leave a nursery without anything, there's usually always something I "need". :)

  12. All my muscular teenage sons grew up and moved away! I am at a loss, for more than one reason. I laughed and knew exactly what you were going through at the nursery. My husband has learned to be tolerant. As I tell him, there are far worse addictions in the world! I think your azaleas would love the pine straw. That's what I put around all of mine.

    I am about to get off the computer. I had a carpenter at my house this morning, so I was stuck here. But he just left, so I am headed to the nursery. I am salivating already, just thinking about it!

  13. Hehe .. I'm right with you! I can't count the number of times I've "needed" plants. Particularly ones in flower, that would look so wonderful if it just stays looking exactly as it currently does. I'm never had much luck with azaleas and rhodos either, but I blame the ever present Azalea LaceBug which seems to return no matter how long I leave that patch fallow. Tell me your secrets *when* yours grows beautifully :-)


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