I needed a can of insulating foam to seal a couple of cracks. No, I really did! And that's what I told myself was the reason I was going to Lowe's and Walmart. A little voice inside said, 'Yeah Doug, you need the foam and you will get it. But we both know the real reason you're going. You hope to find at least one mid winter plant bargain. And sure enough, I did.
At this time of year, finding plant bargains at garden centers is about as hard as finding hen's teeth, but it can be done. Just don't expect to find exactly what you want at the lowest possible price. And don't expect to see large displays of mark downs.
Stores won't devote choice space for the few remaining plants they have left, and what they have to sell may be found in other than the customary places. Sometimes they're placed in an out of the way corner.
I need a few more Arborvitae Emerald Green. I was in hopes of finding a half dozen marked down really low. I didn't find them. But while rummaging around in Walmart's nearly empty outdoor garden section, I found some planters I wanted. Wanted, but wouldn't get earlier because they were $8.50 each. Well, I saw a stack of them for $2.50 each, and bought one.
Back inside were just a few plants, plus a ragged display of shriveled up bulbs and iris rhizomes. Not a one of them would have lived. Not one, they were already dead.
Wait just a minute. What's this? I picked up a bag of crocus corms. I pressed a few between my thumb and forefinger. They felt firm enough. Upon closer examination, I saw that many of the corms were beginning to sprout. Yeah, but $8.00 a bag. I can't afford it.
I took the bag to one of those self check gizmos and found it had been marked down to $2.00. I put the bag into my cart and smiled to myself, and thought, 'I guess whoever said I was so tight, I squeaked when I walked, was right'. I smiled again. I just saved $11.00 total.
The real reason I buy plants and bulbs in mid winter is, it satiates an inner desire, a need, an urgency. It may be a waste of precious time, but I do spend most of winter, longing for the arrival of spring. Getting something into the ground that desperately needs to be in the ground, alleviates so much of the dread of winter.
I was born at 3:00 AM on one of the coldest, most bitter nights in December. Born in a room with no heat except a tiny fireplace that gave most of it's heat back to the chimney and then to the outside. A glass of water left sitting overnight in that room would have frozen by morning. That did not prepare me to like the winter months. It might have, in fact, played a part in my dislike for them.
Finding the corms and planter on sale in January made me feel good. Getting my hands in the dirt again to plant the corms made me feel even better. My sister just called to say a heavy snow is being predicted to arrive in a couple days. Let it snow. My planting the crocus has braced me for any snow storm that might come. If winter won't give me sunshine, I'll make my own, in my mind.
I'm not the least bit worried about planting the crocus, so late. They have their own inner clocks which determine when they will bloom. I could have planted them two months ago, or a month from now. The soil temperature, the daylight hours and many other factors will see that they bloom at just the time they should, without respect to when I plant them.
To contradict myself, let me say that crocus can bloom at times other than when their inner clocks say they should. This is brought about about by human intervention; the committing of an act called 'forcing'. If I get truly desperate between now and spring, I just may bring the crocus inside. Exposing them to heat and sixteen hours a day of light will fool their tiny clocks and cause them to bloom and brighten a sullen corner of my home.
Nature is the engine that drives the Universe. Only the foolish resist going along for the ride. It's the trip of a lifetime.
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Just because a garden center marks down bulbs to clear the inventory doesn't mean it's too late to plant the bulbs. Bulbs can be planted any time. Sometimes though, if planted very late, they might not bloom til the second year.