A Few Words About Shopping For Plants At The Big Box Stores
by David Salman
Founder and Chief Horticulturist David Salman Weighs In On The "Dumbing Down" Of Horticulture
The "Big Box" stores have become a major force in the marketing and sales of plants across the US. They have transformed the retail plant business over the last 15 to 20 years from an industry traditionally serviced by independently owned nurseries, hardware stores and greenhouses to one that’s dominated by spreadsheets and not horticulturists. They have done so by working with very large wholesale nurseries and gigantic bedding plant growers who are large enough to supply their numerous large stores to drive down prices. This also has the effect of “dumbing down,” or greatly reducing the selection of plant varieties available to choose from.
What is a Well-Intentioned Gardener to Do?
The solution is simple: Do your homework and make the bulk of your plant purchases from reputable locally-owned greenhouses, garden centers and specialty catalog/on-line retailers. If you expect to have access to accurate horticultural information, regionally appropriate plants and quality organic/natural gardening products, you need to support these non-Big Box vendors. Otherwise who is going to grow the unusual plants and afford to have experienced, educated horticulturists on staff? Who is going to ensure that our vast palate of biologically diverse plants is not simplified down to those that make the most money? I always caution folks that "if all you buy is fast food, don't be surprised when there are no farm-to-table restaurants when you want access to healthy meals." The same holds true for plants.
24-30" tall x 24" wide. Susanna Mitchell blooms most of the summer with large, creamy white daisies. A vigorous and easy-to-grow, It's attractive, fine textured foliage shows off the flowers to great advantage. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
Blue Glow is an Old World wildflower that blooms in mid-summer. The deep blue globe-like flowers are held high above the attactive thistle-like foliage. One of the very best flowers for attracting bees and butterflies to your garden. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
Rotkugel is one of the very best ornamental oreganos that blooms in mid-to late summer with a profusion of flower heads filled with small bright pink flowers. A fantastic perennial for feeding bees and butterflies .
Exclusive. Santa Fe is a selected form of Maximilian's Sunflower chosen for its huge, bright yellow daisies that tightly pack the 6 foot tall flowering spike. A tough perennial for difficult growing conditions, it blooms in mid-September. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric). A High Country Gardens introduction.
White Nancy is an outstanding Old World groundcover for shade and semi-shade. Blooming much of the summer with bright white flower helod over green and white variegated foliage, this long lived groundcover is the best.
36-48" tall x 24-36" wide. ‘Baby Joe’ is a compact selection of the large growing Joe Pye weed. In late summer the plant blooms with flat topped heads of small, mauve-purple flowers. The flowers are extremely attractive to butterflies and bees.
Herman's Pride Variegated Yellow Archangel is one of our best Old World groundcovers for shade and semi-shade. Lamiastrum galeobdoblon Herman's Pride features short spikes of bright yellow flower are held over variegated silver and green foliage, Blooms in late spring.
New Snow Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) has attractive silver-gray wooly foliage and clusters of tiny white flowers held on top of tall, upright stems. This native plant is highly attractive to butterflies. Resilient and easy to grow, it’s excellent for use in meadows and perennial pollinator-friendly gardens with dry, poor soil. Drought tolerant.