Free Plants

by Mary Leonard

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Houseplants from Garbage

Free Plants!

Boy, do I have a tip for all gardeners out there!

I work in a garden center and thought I had cornered the market on cheap plants for my garden, I would buy the plants that were on clearance. I bought 10 assorted shrubs last fall for $1.00 a piece at the end of the season. (They're all alive and doing well this spring.) I buy the flats of annuals that are over half dead for a dollar. It may take two to three "half dead" flats to equal a "full flat" but my cost was only $3.00 compared to $10.00! Of course I saved the empty trays until the next year to start my vegetable plants, saving me even more money.

However, the other day one of my customers gave me one of the best tips by far. She knew we had just bought a house last year with a big empty yard that I couldn't wait to start filling. She asked me if I had any hostas in our yard. I said no, but I was planning to try some on the North side of my house this year. We talked a little longer and then she left. I was shocked to see her back within an hour, she called to me to find a couple of big boxes and come over to her van. When I got there I could have been knocked over with a feather!

She had six huge clumps of hostas, four small althea bushes, and six peony bushes, and various small perennials, all freshly dug...and they were all for me! I told her there was no way I could accept such a gift, and that she shouldn't have gone to the trouble, that if she wanted to get rid of some of her plants she should have told me and I would have dug them myself! She asked me what I thought she had paid for all of them, I did a quick tally in my head based on the price of the same plants I was selling inside, and there was at least $200 of plants sitting there. She laughed and said, "$200? Try free!"

Then she gave me her secret. There is a good bit of construction going on around our town, its not hard to see which old houses they are planning to demolish. She talks to the construction company to find out when demolition is to begin and asks for permission to dig up the plants so they wont get destroyed before the bulldozers come in. The owners have always said yes.

She invited me to her house last Sunday, to see her garden. (Of course I brought some new plants for her, a columbine she had been admiring at the store and a window basket made up with pansies, springrei, and vinca vine.) She has an incredible garden, it rivals any I have seen at flower shows or in magazines. She said that 75% of it was free.

So how about that for luck? Not only free plants but a great new friend! I am blessed.

If you have a story that can inform or inspire others please send it to with "My Story" as the subject. You don't need to be an author. Just someone who has learned something that could help others.

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