Thursday, January 28, 2010

More plant shopping, without leaving the house

I am incredibly good at rationalization. I can rationalize practically anything, I’ve never been sure if it’s a talent or a curse. In this case the inspiration for my rationalization is my inability to make it to the NW Flower and Garden Show in Seattle next week. Here’s how it goes…

Gas to Seattle and back home = $40 (ish)
Ticket to the show= $18
Parking = free (having lived there I know the secret spots!)
Lunch = $15
subtotal = $73

See I’m already at $73 and I haven’t included the cost of any plants yet! So … (here comes the rationalization) I can do a little online plant shopping and not feel guilty!

Last year at the NW Flower and Garden Show was where I found my first Echium. It performed all summer long. Its foliage was gorgeous…
The blooms electric…
And it got big, really really BIG!
But since it’s only hardy to zone 9, (20 degrees) it’s dead. I was hoping to acquire another one at the show this year; I’ve never seen them for sale here in Portland. Since that opportunity was out I decided to go looking for them online.I found several companies selling seeds, and while I can certainly appreciate the economy of going that route I wanted instant gratification. That’s when I found Annies Annuals & Perennials. Now I’ll admit the design snob in me was a little put off by the Mary Englebright-esque look of their website, dangerous plants are not supposed to be cute! But once I got to looking through their offerings I was amazed. They have great plants at great prices, and if you’re on the West Coast their delivery charges are very reasonable.

The best feature of their website is something called “wish list” this is a handy feature where you can keep track of all the plants you want to buy. They also allow you to save things that aren’t currently available to your wish list and they notify you when they do become available. Perfect!

So here’s what I bought…two Echium fastuosum “Pride of Madeira”... An Aloe reitzii Whose bumpy spikes coordinated nicely with the punctured air-holes on the box don’t you think? And after seeing all of the amazing Puya on our California vacation I knew I needed at least one. So I went for Puya alpestris “Sapphire Tower” I doubt I will ever see it bloom since it will remain a container plant but just in case I got the one that has the amazing turquoise green metallic blooms. I thought the foliage on my Puya would be silver and it’s not, this plant is obviously green. I hope the sunshine and a little age will bring out its promised silver coloring. And last, but not least, I fell for the Dasylirion longissima “Mexican Grass Tree” after all I really wanted to add to my Dasylirion collection and the price was right at $9.95, but it is going to be a long long time before this… Looks like this…(photo from San Marcos Growers website)
I can whole-heartedly recommend Annies Annuals & Perennials they were a pleasure to deal with, packaged their plants very well and shipped extremely fast. And for all 5 plants and shipping charges I still came in well under $73. Not too shabby!


  1. Excellent rationalization! I'm wanting to do some catalog purchasing at Plant Delights...but shouldn't. Will I or won't I?

  2. Nice online haul! That aloe reitzii has the cutest fat little lobes (sorry, yes it's dangerous, but you have to admit it's cute, too.) And thanks for the feedback on Annies: it's always good to know who has good stock and knows their shipping dos and don'ts.

    I'm sorry you have to rationalize due to not being able to make the NWFG show, but I'm in awe of your skill at doing it. I'm one of the lucky ones: my sis and I will go there on the Clackamas Master Gardener bus this coming Wednesday. And I'm gonna rationalize like you about plant purchases: at just $60 for the trip (including ticket!) I already have $13 in the pot, right? And just think of the shipping fees I can avoid by buying on the spot!

  3. Hi Loree~~ I concur. I've bought from Annie's for the past two years. In fact, the pink Clarkia in the first photo of my latest post is from Annie's. Being the girlie-girl, I like the ME-esque look. The only drawback is that many of their plants aren't terribly frost hardy. Do you think I could find a greenhouse for under $73.00? Probably only in my dreams.

    I hope you'll take a memory card-full of photos at the show. You know, the $73.00 can be easily justified as "continuing education." This is how I legitimize such expenditures.

  4. I read a Calvin Trillin essay that called that "Alice's Law of Compensatory Cash Flow" (after his beloved wife, Alice). I.e. you saved money by not doing/buying something, so it frees up that amount to spend elsewhere! I live by it ALL the time. Good finds, sorry to miss you at the show but you probably found better stuff this way and got to think about it and make wise choices.

  5. Hurray for Echium! They're just starting to bloom here in SF and I love them. Good to hear happy reviews about Annie's. We're heading over there on Sunday for our first visit. I bet we'll blog about it :)

  6. That's very good rationalisation! Those plants look great, and I have also heard good things about Annie's.

  7. I love the Aloe reitzii, it reminds me of a lobster claw or even a squid's beak.

    Someone at Annie's severly flattered me by asking if they could use one of my photos on thier site or in promotions. They needed a shot of Cow Parsnip and liked the one I took in Co. this past summer.

    Maybe in your state of recovery, you could rationalize going to the F&G show, where perhaps you could get a special parking spot and preferred viewing. At the amusement park my son and I go to, handicapped people are ushered to the front of the lines along with their entourage.

  8. Down here, Puerco Rico, USA, there is no point to go nursery
    shopping. All they have are common places,dull
    and lame. Therefore I get my plants while collecting and swapping. Of my over 120 identified species, perhaps ten were bought..
    Good luck in your projects...

  9. Funny story. I'm reading your post here, and suddenly I'm reaching for my purse. Then I had to stop and think, what am I doing, why did I grab this? It took me a second to consciously recognize that I had already decided to go buy that Echium. I hope it's okay that I copy you on that, I LOVED that plant.

  10. Pam, I predict (hope) you will!

    Jane, Yea! I am glad to hear your going...take lots of pictures ok?! And yes, I suppose there is a little cuteness to the aloe.

    Grace, no I won't be going to the show...that was my rationalization, I could spend the money I would have been spending. Jane is going and I hope she follows your advice with the memory card! And I am definitely going to use your "continuing education" rationalization in the future!

    Karen, uhm, that rings a bell, I wonder if I read that somewhere along the line and adopted the idea as my own?! So you're going to the show right? I hope you have a wonderful time! Can't wait to read your post.

    faroutflora, I look forward to reading your post on Annies (and to see what you buy!), they have such great online customer service that I bet the nursery experience will be wonderful.

    Nicole, now if spring just keeps on coming and I can plant them outside soon!!

    Les, yes it totally does! Good call. If I had a way to get to Seattle and was just a little further along in my recovery I would definitely try your theory on getting special privileges, as it is my husband is already sick of hauling me to and from work, doc appts and physical therapy. A weekend in Seattle (175 miles away) might just push him over the edge. Congrats on the photo! That's they give you photo credit? :)

    Antigonum Cajan, hello! I'm sorry to hear that, how frustrating. I am very lucky with all our great nurseries here in Portland and don't take it for granted.

    Megan, definitely ok! I was kind of thinking that since I bought these I would certainly see them here in town this year. But I liked the insurance of already having them too. Do it! Oh and I think I might want another one...if there's room on your order!


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