Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Over priced? Or undervalued?

I love Annie's Annuals.  But even I, the seasoned and obsessive gardener scoffs at paying $5-8 bucks for a 4" size annual. As I look at the catalogue I begin my roller coaster ride of thrifty gardener emotions.  Will it grow?  Please God tell me it will reseed at a price like that!  Will one be enough? Hell, I want hundreds.  But do I have the space? Will it be worth it? This vacillation goes on for a while and then I settle down and place my small order.

Yesterday I ordered something that I feel is really frivolous,  marigolds.  In the main I don't even like them. You see them there, in Home Depot by the hundreds, uniformed solders, a phalanx of flowers. They're all dowsed with growth retardants and fertilizers and so on.  Basically they are as close to a silk flower as a real plant comes.  But there are other marigolds.  I remember when I was an intern at Great Dixter,  Christo would have loads of stripped marigolds waiting the in the wings. The moment a perennial was looking shabby he would have some fun annual like marigolds put in amongst them to take that part of the garden through the summer. And these are full grown loose habit NICE marigolds,  with REAL flowers.  So I chose 'Harlequin' to grow this year, of course I will save seeds and it will be great for the vegetable garden where I will be growing it.

But the question comes back,  is $5 plus shipping and tax too much to pay for an annual? I think the answer is no.  When I think of the joy I will have each day when I see the red and orange stripped flower in the garden it will all be worth it. And as a horticulturist I think it's really important to support the great resources we have.  Annie's is always delighting us with new and wonderful plants. We should support them and other great nurseries.  And just think of the fun you have when that box shows up at the house.



  1. I never regret a dime I spend at Annies, because it is more than just a shopping trip.I never seem to spend under two hours there. I usually budget a hundred bucks..can't go to a ball game for that , or out to dinner here in the wine country. A hundred bucks for a cartload of plants that give me a summer (and beyond) of pleasure is fine by me. Love that Marigold by the way !

  2. I'm with you. I think it is worth it. Though I try to go up there at least once a year and fill my car. The prices in her nursery are cheaper than mail order and of course the shipping is killer. But I have a few neat things on my wish list and when they become available I often add a few annuals to round out the order (her shipping boxes hold 8 plants so worth ordering in increments of 8). There are some local nurseries here that get a good selection of her plants and sell them at more reasonable prices too.

    The good thing is that many of the annuals she sells reseed so think of it as an investment!

  3. I've got seeds of the Villandry marigold, another good one, if you're interested. Grows tall, blooms forever. I completely agree with your last paragraph. And you of all people know how much work goes into sourcing and propagating plants. (I got your Centaurea clementei in the ground last night.)

  4. I'm interested! I wouldn't mind seeing more of your seed collection. ;)