Friday, February 24, 2012

Am I a plant hoarder?

The other day I mentioned that a neighbor thought the pots lining the flagstone walkway to the front door looked really nice. While I appreciate her compliment, I think our front yard is beginning to resemble a cottage nursery.

I’ve been buying too many plants since fall, and in the winter everything went into a holding pattern. I put pots wherever there was room, often stuffing them into nooks and crannies on the front porch or under the eaves. As warmer weather returned, I began to spread them out along the walkway so the plants could get much-needed sunshine. But I’m beginning to be bothered by how haphazard it all looks, meaning it’s time to do something about it.

I may have crossed the line from gardener—somebody who buys plants based on actual need—to hoarder—somebody who likes to amass plants for no reason other than to have them. Actually, I prefer to call myself a “plant collector.” That sounds a tad more sophisticated than “hoarder.”
Let me share some photos with you so you can appreciate the full extent of this mania.  Am I a lost cause, or are things maybe not quite as bad as I think?

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It doesn’t look horrible—yet!
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From here it actually looks kind of OK
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Ignore the blue strawberry pot with the echeverias—that one I do like. It’s the other assorted pots that are the problem.
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Small Yucca rostrata. It won’t be large enough to use in the landscape for many years. I have two more of this size.
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The three Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’ seedlings I recently bought on eBay
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The two smaller pots in the lower right are echeveria and aeonium cuttings I got from fellow succulent lover Candy “Sweetstuff”.  The two larger pots contain echeverias I bought last fall at the Succulent Gardens Extravaganza. They are showing signs of winter damage…
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…especially this Echeveria gibbiflora ‘Arlie Wright’. I should only buy succulents in the spring after somebody else has overwintered them!
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The two larger pots on the right came from the recent UC Botanical Garden winter sale. The other two I got at Walmart for 75% off. It’s hard to resist a bargain even when you don’t really need that particular plant!
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Kalanchoe ‘Fang’. Hey, it was only $0.75 a Walmart!
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The potted succulents in the back are a permanent fixture in this spot. The pots in the foreground are just hanging out temporarily. The larger black nursery pot contains an Encephalartos lehmannii, a cycad from South Africa.
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Nandina domestica ‘Filamentosa’, one of my favorite recent purchases. It’s such a unique plant, I don’t quite know how to best use it.
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Giant coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea) from Cactus Jungle. It will eventually go in a nice pot.
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Tree euphorbia (Euphorbia lambii) from Annie’s Annuals. It will eventually be planted in the succulent bed by the front door, seen in the 2nd photo above, but it’ll live in a pot until it’s taller. Hopefully extra fertilizer will help speed things along.
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What was once a shoe rack now serves as an overflow rack next to the front door. I will make a concerted effort to combine small (4”) pots into larger community pots.
                                                                                                                                            
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LEFT: Agaves and prickly pears on the front porch where they’re protected from the rain (what little rain we’ve had this season)
RIGHT: Cactus cuttings. No clue where they’ll go when they’re rooted but I want to have them in my collection. See what I mean??
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This table on the front porch looked nice a few years ago but has since then degenerated into another plant holding area
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At least this tray looks neat. These cacti lived on top of the front yard fence last year but had to be moved to a sheltered spot during the rainy season.
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More plants on the table on the front porch. The terracotta bowls will be moved back into their old spots on top of the fence very soon so we can actually use the table again.
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Ephiphyllum ‘King Midas’ from Annie’s Annuals. It’ll go in a hanging planter to be suspended from the front porch roof. See, I do have concrete plans for some plants! I’s just a matter of following through.
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Cactus community pots I put together last summer. I’m thinking of redoing them and putting at least twice as many plants in each pot, considering that they grow so slowly. That would free up valuable floor space, too.
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And finally the cactus and succulent display stand. I will completely rearrange it this spring so it looks less haphazard. Smaller plants will be combined into community pots.

And then there are the plants I bought as bonsai candidates: Japanese boxwood, dwarf pomegranate, cotoneaster, some dwarf azalea, etc. Some are even “real” bonsai starters from Lone Pine Gardens. While I’m still intrigued by bonsai, I don’t feel the same urgent desire to dive into it that I had in the fall. I think it’s because I feel a bit intimidated, considering that bonsai has such a long tradition and so many rules. I know, it’s silly to feel that way since my goal isn’t to enter a bonsai competition, just to create some interesting specimens for myself.

In any case, it doesn’t look like these plants will be bonsai’d anytime soon. That’s not a problem per se because the larger these plants grow, the better suited they will be for bonsai treatment.

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Assorted bonsai candidates
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Chinese elm (Ulmus parviflora ‘Yatsubusa’)
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Heart-leaf ivy (Hedera helix ‘Scutifolia’)
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Japanese garden juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’)
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This is what I have in mind with the Japanese garden juniper above
So, do I still fall in the “normal” range, or should I seek help from Plant Hoarders Anonymous?


9 comments:

  1. I don't think you have too many plants, but too many pots... maybe. What percentage of your potted plants are destined for the ground, and what percentage will remain permanently potted?

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    1. I agree, I have too many pots, especially small ones. That's the problem. Some of these plants will eventually be put in the ground, but not until they're a bit bigger.

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  2. You've got a fine collection of exotics there Gerhard! And the Nandina domestica filamentosa is gorgeous!!! I hope I can get that one here!

    Rather than a 'plant hoarder' or a 'plant collector', what about a Plantsman? :)

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    1. I like "plantsman." That's what I shall be known as henceforth!

      I've only seen Nandina domestica 'Filamentosa' at one nursery. I hope you'll be able to find it locally. It's a unique-looking plant for sure. The 5-gallon sizes were even more impressive.

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  3. I just don't like "plant hoarder"...it has such a negative connotation. As long as your spouse isn't bothered and you are still paying your bills (not hiding those eBay credit card statements) what's the problem!? Of course you aren't exactly talking to a innocent are you?

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    1. All those hoarding shows on TV have given honest hoarders a bad rap for sure :-).

      My spouse is very patient, bless her heart, and I'm too much of a miser to run up large bills. In fact, I love nothing better than a good sale!

      I think all my problems would be solved if we bought a larger property, LOL.

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  4. Hahaha! I'm with ya Gerhard, we don't "hoard" we collect right!? It's just that I need duplicates of everything I have, a grow light in the basement, an extra greenhouse at work and a garden away from my garden. Fill the house, quick! What can I say, it's the science of life, in your living room and window sill. Us plant "collectors" live like kings and see things people might never see. What a privileged existance it is. If it makes you happy I'd call it a win. Better then a drinking problem haha. Great post!

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  5. omg! i am a total plant hoarder. i even have a board on pinterest called "plant hoarder" it is my wishlist and sadly and happily my addiction. http://pinterest.com/zehra/plant-hoarder/

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    1. Zehra, your Pinterest board is phenomenal! I must admit that I haven't used Pinterest since creating my account, but I'm so inspired by your collection of images, and I will begin to use Pinterest regularly.

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