Perennials are great because they come back every year. If you are patient and wait for small transplants to grow, you will save money over the larger, older plants that garden centers sell. (The philosophy of buying big plants is what I call “insta-garden.” Where’s the delayed gratification?) As I stated yesterday, I’ve striven to reduce my mow-able yard since 2000. I want to show the fruits of this long-term process. I bought a purple coneflower transplant in 2000 for $1. It was dinky and came through the mail. I’ve since split it at least four times. It is incredibly drought-resistant and neglectable while still producing great-looking flowers. Prices for plants that size start at $6; White Flower Farm lists 3 plants for $24. (All of my price references will be for White Flower Farm.)
The monarda, or bee balm, came from my dad’s third wife, maybe 9 years ago as a small shovelful of stems. It spreads, but not rampantly, probably because of how I sited it. Insects love this flower! This patch will get taller and have dark pink flowers. I love the pepper smell from the leaves and their square stems. One plant lists for $13.
You can barely see the hens and chicks that I have on the border. Because of their succulent nature, hens and chicks make nice edging near the pavement. I have purple and green varieties. These are 11 year old plants that survived a couple moves. Very easy to grow even when ignored. Mine haven’t spread the way they used to, and I’m attributing that to the heated conditions of the soil near the sidewalk. They were also $1; listed for $12.
I used to buy bulbs every fall as a gift to myself. I haven’t done that for a couple years now. I am on the fence about bulbs because they seem to need more care than what I’d like to give. I enjoy seeing them all spring, so I won’t be tearing them out of the ground, but I’ll probably be ignoring them.
The aster was a distressed plant for $1. $13 is what it might be worth now that it is 3 years old.
My total: $3 (add another $8 for the bulbs) When you divide $3 by the 12 years I’ve lived here, that makes $0.25/year. I watered them only to get them established as babies. Really, truly, I don’t water them. Their value at the size they are now is about $44.
What is growing in your garden?