We stopped in at our local Lowe's today – and the plants there were very cheap. (For British readers, Lowe’s is more or less the equivalent of a vast B&Q.)
Amongst other things we spotted a flowering dogwood, Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’. The lovely specimen in a 5 gallon pot was nearly 2m (6ft) high and priced at just $24.98 – that’s £12.55 in British money. This is too cheap, far too cheap. All the plants at Lowe's are cheap… Tempting at those prices, but actually worth more.
Now I don’t know which grower supplied Lowe's… But, in general, many people complain about the number of undocumented workers (“illegal aliens”) working in landscaping, horticulture and agriculture in the US yet because they’re on such low wages this is one of the reasons prices are so low. In fact, people complain loudly about undocumented workers in general – but still demand the cheapest possible prices. You can’t have it both ways.
Now, here’s the other side of it all. Low retail prices in any shop or nursery or garden center tends to mean low profit margins which tends to mean limited expense on technical expertise. In the same Lowe's was a batch of coreopsis labelled ‘Crème Brulée’. As you can see, the plants on offer were not ‘Crème Brulée’, the lovely cool, soft yellow form of C. verticillata (needle leaf coreopsis). The plants labeled ‘Crème Brulée’ were a much less special, brash gold form of the broader leaved C. grandiflora, perhaps ‘Elfin Gold’ – perfectly good variety, but not ‘Crème Brulée’.
So, perhaps, in the broad sense, you get what you pay for: a bargain dogwood, the wrong coreopsis – and, by the way, only one single variety of ornamental grass… grasses being just about the most popular of all perennials at the moment. And even that one ornamental grass was frost damaged – as were the acers, pieris and cherries.
What’s that quote about the price of everything and the value of nothing.
OF COURSE, instead, you can, of course, buy Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’ and the genuine Coreopsis ‘Crème Brulée’ in good local nurseries and garden centers.
Alternatively, order Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’ by mail order from Meadowbrook Nursery in North Carolina or from these four British nurseries. You can buy the genuine Coreopsis ‘Crème Brulée’ by mail order from White Flower Farm in Connecticut or from these twenty British nurseries.