THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE (aka A REVIEW OF A VERY COOL HANDHELD BLOWER)

If you've read my power tool reviews before, you've probably picked up on a trend: I like power but I like it when it comes easy. What I'm about to say makes me sound like a pathetic girl, but I hate pull starts. I'll use them when I have to, but I feel like my arms aren't long enough to do it properly. That is probably ridiculous as I think I have relatively normal arms as far as length goes, but suffice to say, if I can avoid a pull start, I will.

In fact, why in the world can't I just push a button and have the thing turn on? Guess what? I can and so can you.


For me, that's the best feature of the new Troy-Bilt Handheld Blower powered by CORE (technically the TB4300): Squeeze the trigger and it's on. Squeeze it harder and it blows harder. Lighten up on your trigger finger and it blows softer. This seems incredibly obvious, right? And yet, this is the first power tool I've used that is just that simple.

CORE is Troy-Bilt's new battery-operated line of machines. It includes the blower, a hedge trimmer a string trimmer and, soon, a lawn mower. All of the machines operate off one pretty large battery, so you can save money by only buying the power tool after you have a battery and a charger. The blower kit, with a battery and charger costs $279, but if you already had the battery and charger you could pick one up for $179.

Doesn't everyone use their leaf blower barefoot?

As part of Troy-Bilt's Saturday6 blogger team I gave the blower a test after fully charging up the battery. Actually, Mr. Much More Patient snagged it before I could even get my hands on it and do you what the first thing he did was? He turned it on in our kitchen, opened the door and blew out the dog hair tumbleweeds.

You may be inclined to use this anecdote to judge my cleaning skills, but in my defense this happened during the peak of shedding season in our house (with Newfoundlands and dogs with undercoats it's called blowing coat for good reason), and even daily vacuuming can't keep up with the hair for a couple weeks in spring. No, I shared this story with you because it really says something about this leaf blower: It's battery operated, which means you really can use it inside, unlike gas-powered blowers (which I once read are some of the worst pollution offenders). Now, I don't actually recommend using it for this purpose as I learned that for every piece of hair that goes out the door, three go up and float down, which is generally not a good thing in your kitchen.

Love those lights.

I will also admit to being a sucker for good design, so forgive me for a minute while I wax poetic about lights. Yes, lights. The lights on the blower ramp up as you use more power. It's pretty, but more than that, it's practical. I won't say it's a light machine because the battery has some heft to it. But with the battery inserted, it is well balanced and not difficult to wave around while using it. It is certainly lighter and easier to handle than the gas powered model we previously used.

And of course, there are great benefits to not having 100 feet of electrical cord dragging behind you like you do with electric blowers.

I can't tell you how long the battery lasts from personal experience, but I just don't use a blower for long periods of time. In our yard we use it as the last step in cleanup, blowing debris and grass clippings out of garden beds and off the driveway and patio. We've recharged the battery, but not because it was dead, just because we figured it was a good idea since we'd used the blower several times.

This little video gives you a quick idea of what the CORE blower can do. Mr. Much More Patient starts it in Eco mode then pushes the Boost mode for more power and then decreases the power with the trigger when he gets near the plants. The deck was covered in tree bits but unfortunately it's a little difficult to see them.

video


As for power, I love how much you can control it. There is an Eco setting, which feels a little puny to me, but honestly it'll do just fine for most blowing. Tap the Boost button though and you get serious power. Of course you'll drain the battery faster that way so there's a trade off. I like that I can scale way back on the power when I'm around delicate plants. The other thing that is nice is that changing from more power to less is smooth, unlike other blowers that seem to rev out of control. If you've ever had your neighbor use a blower while you are sitting out enjoying cocktail hour and all you hear is the blower revving up and down, you know how annoying that is, and not just because it's interrupting cocktail hour.

I love the technology behind this tool. As we know, batteries are the future: Cars, phones, computers ... it's all about batteries. I feel like Troy-Bilt has really stepped into the future with this one.

Disclaimer: I am a member of Troy-Bilt’s Saturday6 Program which provides compensation to me, and in the case of product reviews, tools or equipment are provided to me at no cost for the purpose of providing an evaluation and sharing my honest opinions.
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FRIDAY FINDS + A HOE WINNER

Happy Friday, dear readers! It is a glorious summer day and a great weekend is forecast so let's not waste any time and get to the good stuff happening on the Internet this week.

Summer is here: the roses are starting to bloom!


How much do interior designers charge? I'm sure this varies a ton by location and other factors but I appreciate people who share rough numbers. How in the world is anyone supposed to know if they could even consider such a service.

I'm barely capable of dressing myself with a wardrobe full of solids (mostly black and gray), so I could never figure out a so-called capsule wardrobe. But I enjoy reading articles about them and pretending that some day I might figure out how to dress properly.

I talked all about my garden containers at the beginning of the week and Linda did the same, except when she talks about containers, she's really talking about the vessels themselves, not the planting. They are true art pieces and of course perfect for her gorgeous garden. It's amazing what a statement a beautiful empty pot can make.

Readers here will know that I quite enjoy Lauren Liess' blog and I was surprised to read that they plan to sell their house that they just moved to months ago. Her post is called "To each his own" and when I saw the first photo I thought I knew where the title came from (I was wrong). It's a photo of spent garlic mustard weed in a beautiful vase. If I didn't hate the stuff so much, I think I would find this quite creative and beautiful. Still, I appreciate the simplicity of it.


Good news here! The bathroom counter is FINALLY finished. Hopefully we'll have time to mount it this weekend we can actually declare that room finished.

And lastly, thank you all for entering the Royal Dutch Hand Hoe giveaway from Garden Tool Company. We have a lucky winner: Monica from Massachusetts. Monica, you'll be getting an email from me soon!

It's my last opportunity for a major gardening weekend before travel and other activities take over so some serious work needs to get done. What's on your agenda for the weekend?


BAD GARDENER CONFESSIONS: WONKY WATERING

It is stacking up to be one of those summers where it feels like the hose is another bodily appendage. Already we've had periods of heavy rain followed but long stretches of windy, hot weather that dries out the ground quickly. It's been years since we've had a summer where I never wanted to see the hose again and it's amazing how quickly I forgot about proper watering.


Plants are starting to show signs of stress and that's no good when it's just officially become summer. Just last night I looked at the deck planters that I just planted (the ones that I'm not at all happy with), and the creeping Jenny looked like it had one root in the grave.

Fortunately, plants are more forgiving than not, and I gave the planter a proper watering this morning and I'm sure all will be well by the end of the day. Most plants are like that. The impatiens I planted in various places looked fully dead the other day but all perked up nicely.


Of course I can't continue this horrible gardener behavior. Plants can only take so much stress before they completely give up the ghost. I'm just at a horrible place in the garden right now where I feel like nothing is done to my satisfaction. I really need to take two or three days off of work to just pound it out. I bet I said that last year too. Also, that's not at all in the cards at this time.

So I have been making the best of it, and fine-tuning my one-handed watering (while the other hand holds a glass of wine, of course). I think I'll revisit some of my favorite watering tools on the blog soon because I have a feeling it's going to be that kind of year. But tell me, do you have any great watering tool finds for me? I'm always looking for the next new great thing.

Don't forget: Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win the super cool Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hand Hoe from Garden Tool Company.

2016 CONTAINERS

It's high time I tell you a little about the containers I planted this year. I like to show you them early in the summer if only to prove that no container looks great when it's first planted (and some look positively pathetic), unless you start with enormous plants, which few people do. It takes time for them to grow in and look their best.


This year I tried to be a little more cohesive in my plan and as always, it started with the window box. This looks positively pathetic right now but I have hopes that it will fill in nicely without getting totally overgrown and blocking the entire view out the kitchen window.

I used a palette that was at least partly dictated by the 'Autumn Sunset' climbing rose that grows on the trellis on the front of the house. Its flowers vary from yellow to apricot to peach and I wanted something that complimented that. My first thought it always blues, which is by far the color I turn to most often in the garden. I used a coral flower for the center, blue petunias, a bit of lime green and even some pink.

Here's what's planted in it (some affiliate links used):
Verbena bonariensis 'Meteor Shower'
Coleus 'Lemon Twist' (currently very small and not even really visible)
Superbells 'Coralina'
Surfina 'Heavenly Blue'
Oranmental Oregano 'Kent Beauty'
Helichrysum petiolare 'Lemon Licorice'


I repeated this color theme in the big box by the front door. I saw Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' in a garden for the first time last year and knew I had to have it. I found it at a local nursery I'd not been to before, but the landscaper who planted it at the place I originally spotted it called it a "Dr. Suess plant." It does have a tendency to follow the sun around. Around it I planted three purple-leafed dahlias ('Roxy', I believe), which I expect will do as much with their flowers as the dark, broad, foliage will do against the fine-textured Elegant Feather. I also repeated the blue petunia, added in a purple sweet potato vine for some drape, and a new striped Superbells in a coral-type color.

Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather'
Superbells 'Tropical Sunrise' (A trial plant from Proven Winners available next year)
Surfina 'Heavenly Blue'
Ipomonea 'Sweet Caroline Raven'


There was more repetition in the urn in the middle of the patio garden, which makes sense as these three containers form a triangle. Again I used an Elegant Feather here and then kept it simple with just more 'Coralina' Superbells and blue lobelia.

Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather'
Superbells 'Coralina'
Lobelia 'Laguna Sky Blue'




I did go away from the theme a little for the smaller blue pots I like to stack on the stairs to the front door. I quite like this particular geranium and I found it for a great price so it made the cut, along with the need little oxalis I found. The two square pots also got a metal rings for a little interest (scavenged from a rotted out wagon wheel on a neighbor's property).

Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial'
Oxalis 'Molten Lava'


Over by the garage, the boxwood planter (which spent its second winter in the unheated garage and did well) again got a skirt of white impatiens and I love how it's looking a little unkempt with it's new growth right now. It will get a trim in a couple weeks.


That planter moved between the garage doors to make room for a new planter this year, a metal trough style. The lack of interest on the garage and the pergola has been bothering me, so this bigger planter helps fill a blank space. I've also planted two clematis in it, ones that get quite tall, in hopes that they will flop over onto the pergola at some point.

The clematis are a bit of an experiment, as this west-facing wall gets a lot of bright light but almost no direct sun. Both of the clematis—'Perle d'Azur' and 'Alba Luxurians'—are supposed to be able to tolerate a bit of shade, but I am always wary of those reports. I had hoped to have Mr. Much More Patient build a trellis for the wall to help the clematis make the leap to the pergola, but that's on hold until later in summer when everyone has more time. For now, a couple of bamboo poles will suffice. Both of these clematis are group 3, meaning they can be cut back in late winter/early spring, which will help keep the pergola (should they ever reach it) looking tidy.

In a rather remarkable show of restraint (I have a bad habit of putting too much in a container), I keep the color palette very simple, just using white impatiens, variegated ivy and Plectranthus argentatus. Maybe there's something to this whole "keep it simple" strategy as I'm loving how this container is looking.

Clematis 'Perle d'Azur
Clematis 'Alba Luxurians'
Plectranthus argentatus
Impatiens New Guinea 'Infinity White'
Variegated English ivy

We haven't mowed the lawn in almost two weeks because, well, life. Fortunately we have patient neighbors who haven't asked what we're up to.

This doesn't count as much of a container, but the tree stump that we "planted" in the garden by the garden got a dose of hot pink this year in the form of New Guinea impatiens and I love the effect of it over there.


The final containers in my garden are the white fiberglass containers on the deck which I almost don't want to show you. I first planted these this weekend and they look pathetic. I have been desperately trying to wrap up the major work in the garden and they became just one more thing on the to-do list and they look like it. Let's hope they grow in, but I almost feel bad about what an afterthought they were this year.

Pink mandevilla vine (I don't remember exactly which one)
Euphorbia 'Diamond Delight'
Creeping Jenny
Superbells 'Hollywood Star'
Zinnia grown from seed that I lost the tag on



I have just a couple more containers to show you that I'm happy with. A neighbor down the road asked me if I could do his containers for him this year as he had been trucking them to a nearby nursery every year to plant them. The project consisted of six 6-inch terracotta pots that sit in a holder under the windowsill and two 18-inch pots at the entrance to the small entry deck. The terracotta pots had to have red geraniums in there because for the last 32 years, that's what's been there. I'm not thrilled with planting anything in a 6-inch terracotta pot that I know will dry out very, very quickly, but I'm also not going to mess with tradition. So red geraniums it was.

I took the cues for the larger planters from those geraniums and put in 'Fireworks' grass, purple sweet potato vine, Euphorbia and a red calibrachoa.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks'
Euphorbia 'Diamond Delight'
Superbells 'Pomegranate Punch'


P.S. Thank you all for your kind words and understanding about the loss of our dog Rita. It's very comforting and I'm happy we live in a world where so many other people understand the sadness of losing a beloved pet.

P.P.S. Don't forget to check out the giveaway for a Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hand Hoe and enter to win this great tool.

P.P.P.S. As part of my Saturday6 gig with Troy-Bilt I'm taking over their Instagram account this week, so make sure to check me out over there. As a disclaimer, I get paid to work with Troy-Bilt in their Saturday6 program.

A HAND HOE TO LOVE: A REVIEW + A GIVEAWAY

I've not been quiet about my relatively recently discovered love for Dutch-made Sneeboer tools. After years of buying less expensive gardening tools at the local hardware store or garden center, I broke down and bought a Sneeboer Ladies Garden Spade (my mom is about 5'5" and she likes the Border Spade which has the same size head but a slightly longer handle) after talking with the owners of Garden Tool Company, Blake and Anne Schrek. At the time I couldn't believe I would spend so much on a garden tool, but when it came I was in love. Because I had a took that was correctly sized and impeccably designed, gardening was a true pleasure. And the spade was a thing of beauty. It felt right and it looked good and I loved using it. 

On a warm day in late February I pulled out all my Sneeboer tools for a good cleaning and sharpening.

My collection of Sneeboer tools grew from there as a I added a garden fork and the Royal Dutch Hoe. The latter is currently the most frequently used tool in my arsenal as I've discovered the art and benefit of hoeing (especially this time of year when chickweed tries to eat my garden). I love that thing because it obliterates weeds on both the push and the push and the long handle allows me to reach far into the garden. I can quickly clean up large areas of the garden.
When I found out that Sneeboer and Garden Tool Company was now offering a handheld version of the Royal Dutch Hoe I was thrilled and even more so when Garden Tool Company asked me to test it out.

The Royal Dutch Hand Hoe is about half the width of the original Royal Dutch Hoe blade and 12 inches long, which makes it perfect for raised beds, containers and tight areas. I took it out for a spin first in the raised vegetable garden. It took literally about a minute to snip off the small weeds rearing their ugly heads in the bed. The hand hoe, like its big sister, glides just under the surface the soil, nips off even weeds that haven't emerged yet.

As you can see, some tiny weeds were taking hold in one of the raised vegetable gardens.
The Royal Dutch Hand Hoe works on both the push and the pull and easily glides just under the surface of the soil to cut those buggers down low.
It was perfect for getting into tight areas of the bed in between the rapidly growing kale.

And here's what it looked like just a few minutes later.
I found myself reaching for this new hoe again later when it came to deal with the dreaded creeping bellflower in the latest part of the garden where it has taken hold (hoeing and pulling it won't make it go away, but I can at least keep it under control using those methods). I was able to use it right next to the truck of a small tree, where the larger hoe couldn't maneuver. And while I was down there I also used it under the leaves of larger hostas where more weeds where lurking.

Like all of my Sneeboer tools, it has a beautifully shaped handle. It's available in ash and cherry and I chose the ash because it matches the rest of my tools, and a gorgeous finish on the blade. One of the things I like about the Sneeboer tools is that they are incredibly finely crafted but you can tell when you look at them that they are hand made. I love knowing that a person made my tools, not a machine.

So here's the best news: Garden Tool Company sent me a second Royal Dutch Hand Hoe to give to one lucky reader. This one has the beautiful cherry handle and I guarantee it will become one of your favorite tools. 

Just use the widget below to enter to win. I'll pick a winner next Friday so you have lots of time to use it in the garden this year. But who knows, when the weeds see you coming with a tool this good looking they might leave on their own.

Disclaimer: Garden Tool Company provided me with two Royal Dutch Hand Hoes. This allowed me to test it out so I can tell you what I really think and to give one away to a lucky reader. As always, all opinions are my own. No other compensation was provided.



Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hand Hoe giveaway

GOODBYE, FRIEND

I thought I better check in here just so you all know I'm still around.

I have lots of excuses for my weeklong absence here, but excuses are a bore. I'll be back soon with lots of gardening, a fantastic giveaway and more.

But for now, I just want to take a moment to remember our Newfoundland Rita. She died rather suddenly Monday morning. She was 11½ but was as healthy as a horse. Just a week ago she had a great checkup and excellent bloodwork. We expected we'd have years to gaze into her deep brown eyes and give endless tummy rubs. But it was not to be. She was a comedian who made us laugh every day of her life and brought us endless amounts of joy. Rita was fine in the afternoon and gone eight hours later (a bleeding, previously unknown mass likely on her spleen was to blame).




I'll be back shortly with the subject matter more typical for this space, just as soon as the tears stop falling quite so freely. I'm glad I snapped a photo of her with the crabapple with planted for her a couple weeks ago.


AN EARLY JUNE GARDEN REPORT

There is so much happening in the garden these day and if I don't show it to you soon there will be something else entirely happening. I've not had time for proper photos, but I did snap a bunch on my phone and I thought phone photos would be better than waiting even longer.

I had such high hopes for this gardening season. With the nice spring I felt like I had a real jump on things but now I feel like I'll never get everything finished and I'm really losing steam. I really wish I could just take a couple days of vacation and just finish it all but that's not in the cards at work right now so I'll just do the best I can.

For now ... here's what's happening.

The Clematis 'Sugar Sweet Lilac' is doing amazingly well for its second year. The climbing rose is doing well too despite all of the canes dying back over the winter. This fall I'll try to protect them more to avoid the cane dieback.

{Some affiliate links may be used. Thank you for supporting this blog.} 

 The 'Coralburst' crabapple is past its peak bloom time but I sort of love the shaggy look it has right now. It reminds me a little of how all the boxwoods are a little shaggy right now with their new growth. The dame's rocket is growing behind it. I consider it a weed but not a major offender so I pull it when I'm around and leave the rest. I did some weed burning on the edges of things the other night, so things are a bit crispy in the foreground.


The 'Venus' dogwood is blooming for the first time! It only has three flowers, and they are just opening in shades of lime, but I love them.


 Last summer I dug up a lot of Geranium macrorrhizum aka bigroot geranium from my sister-in-law's garden and I stuck it in along the driveway where nothing exciting will grow. I'm so happy with how it has flourished and I can't wait to divide it and really fill in that area. Anything that grows here needs to be able to tolerate shade, dryness, plowing, snow piles and general mistreatment. This fits the bill.


My beloved 'Guernsey Cream' clematis is doing great again. There are so many buds yet to open. It is the perfect white in the garden. Creamy but clean.



When we bought the house, one of the few plants that hadn't been taken over by weeds in the garden was lamb's ear. I detest lamb's ear flowers and I ripped it all out. Fourteen years later, I've invited it back into the garden, this time as a contrast around the 'Orangeola' Japanese maple. I plan to chop off any flowers that try to sneak in there.


Three years ago I volunteered at a garden tour event and the star of the show was a giant Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Mariesii' that was laden with blooms. It was the most stunning shrub I'd ever seen and I loved that it shared a name for my grandmother Marie.  I bought one that was no more than 2 feet tall and wide (I think that's being generous) and planted it on the edge of the yard with lots of room to grow, which I know it will). It has grown so much since and this year has lovely blooms. It is starting to show the layered habit that I love.




Until I went to a garden seminar this winter, I'd never heard of night phlox aka Zaluzianskya capensis, but I loved the idea of trying to put more fragrant plants near the back door. I grew a few from seed, not really knowing what to expect, but I'm finding them to be one of the most charming plants I've ever seen. The diminutive flowers pack a huge scent punch in the evening and are just the cutest things ever.


A big project this spring was replanting a large portion of the patio garden that I cleaned out last fall. I still need to fill in quite a few holes with annuals, but the Hydrangea serrata 'Tiny Tuff Stuff' I ordered from Garden Crossings are in (you can see their purple-ish sunburned leaves caused by failing to properly harden them off before planting), Amsonia hubrechtii and 'David Howard' dahlias are all in. A new viburnum is in the back of the bed along with a few other plants that are way too small to see much of these days.


A tree peony that I either never knew the name of or lost track of is blooming its head off with huge frilly-petaled flowers. I don't really love magenta flowers, but it certainly is putting on a show.



I finally found a 'Forest Pansy' redbud, which was no small feat as many nurseries don't like to sell them here because of their questionable branch hardiness. We planted it on the edge of the lawn next to our path through the woods. It's smaller than I would have hoped, but I was happy to take what I could get. May it live long and flourish.



Rain put a kibosh on after-work gardening on Monday, but the pretty double rainbow it left behind made up for it.


And last but not least, a rare garden selfie. We were at our nephew's graduation Sunday (outside ... hence the sunburn) and came home at 8 to find the power out. I went out to do whatever gardening I could since there was no point in being inside with no power and I found myself on the edge of the woods and couldn't believe how quickly the ostrich ferns have shot up. They are officially taller than me now. It feels like quite the jungle over there these days. 



FRIDAY FINDS

It's Friday Finds time, something I haven't had time to do for a couple weeks. I'm a little behind on my blog reading as well with craziness in the garden, at work and in life. All good stuff, just busy. I wouldn't have it any other way.

How about a pretty picture to start? The 'Coralburst' crabapple we planted last year is doing great and putting on a beautiful show. When our dog Hudson died we planted a Picea glauca 'Hudsonii' for him and Mr. Much More Patient decided we should plant a tree for our dog Rita while she was still with it so she could enjoy it too. We couldn't find a tree with Rita in the name so we opted for something pretty and girly instead. We've taken her picture by it while it's in bloom the last two years and I hope we'll have many more photos like that.


Although the area around the tree is mulched, that whole area is getting really weedy. The weed torch will be making an appearance this weekend too.

The weather has been wonderful here so most of this week's finds are all about summer. Bring it on!

I like to drink cocktails and experiment a bit in summer. Last summer I perfected a real dacquiri (not the sugary fruit laden variety but simple, crisp and limey). This gimlet sounds pretty good.

Are you using a spiralizer? Tell me if it's worth it. I hate to have kitchen gadgets everywhere so if I'm going to use them, they have to be something that's worth the space.

If you're into white gardens (as I predicted many people would be in my Garden Trends for 2016), here are some very pretty ones.

You'll notice a new addition to the sidebar over there ------------>
I've created a very small Amazon shop featuring some of my favorite gardening gear. Honestly it's as much to help me find the things I buy frequently as anything else. Some of it is flashy and some is rather mundane (garden twist ties, for instance), but once I find something I like I tend to stick with it. Those are affiliate links which means I may get a percentage back if you buy something. That helps me buy plants to tell you about! ;)

I enjoy this blog because you never know what you're going to read about. It might be tiling a bathroom, digging a fence post hole or chickens. It's just a cool chick doing cool stuff, mostly on her own.

That's it folks. There is SO MUCH TO DO this weekend! I have to finish up container planting, oodles of work in the garden, find homes for all the plants (I can't keep up with the watering anymore so stuff needs to get in the ground), sailing, my nephew's high school graduation and so much more. What's on your agenda this weekend?



MAIL ORDER PLANTS REVIEW: GARDEN CROSSINGS & CLASSIC VIBURNUMS

Oh my, there is so much going on in the garden and I'm not sharing any of it! Bad blogger! Soon, I promise.

We had the most amazing weather for Memorial Day weekend and I spent plenty of time in the garden. It was lovely. But, once again, I was so busy gardening that I didn't take any photos. So today I'm going to wrap up my mail order nursery series for the year with a bang.

If you recall, my friend Linda at Each Little World starting posting about her experiences with mail order plants this year and I liked it so much, I decided to do it too.

I ordered several small shrubs from Garden Crossings in Zeeland, Michigan. It's obviously not my preference to order shrubs online, but I was dead set that I wanted Hydrangea serrata 'Tiny Tuff Stuff'  in the patio garden where I cleaned out a bunch of stuff last year and although I was finding plenty of 'Tuff Stuff' (which grows to about twice the size of 'Tiny Tuff Stuff'), I saw no 'Tiny Tuff Stuff' anywhere. And as long as I was ordering (I can't tell you how many "as long as I was ordering" plants I have), I threw in some white impatiens that Garden Crossings' website raved about.

A neat stack of boxes was waiting for me. Four hydrangeas came in the big box, plus the fifth in the tall skinny box. The impatiens were in the square box.

I ordered from all kinds of nurseries this spring, both small and large, with specific focuses and some general focused-nurseries. My guess is that Garden Crossings was the largest nursery I ordered from. When my ordered arrived it was clear to me that they have a very specific system in place for shipping. A neat stack of boxes were waiting on the front porch for me.

Impatiens were all neatly tucked in their own compartments.

The five hydrangeas were in tall boxes with dividers holding each plant in place. The impatiens were in a similar but smaller divided box.

Each hydrangea had its own box so all of the foliage was in perfect shape.

The real genius of Garden Crossings' packing is in the paper. Every plant has a tight band of kraft paper that holds the foliage up in a column so it never gets crushed.

Every plant, regardless of size, was wrapped in kraft paper, keeping the foliage protected and making it easy to pull them out of their compartment.
Healthy looking Infinity white impatiens.

When I took the hydrangeas out of the paper, I couldn't believe what I saw. They are basically fully grown plants (or very close) that were in full flower. I left the flowers because I have a heart and lack that hardened gardener ability to trim off a flower even if it's better for a plant. Everything was extremely healthy, although I stupidly didn't figure out that the hydrangeas were obviously greenhouse grown and I put them out right away without any hardening off. The results is that I now have five purple-leafed hydrangeas, all of them having been sunburned. The plants will be fine, I have no doubt, they will just be a little odd looking for a time.



I ordered during a shrub sale, so that helped bring the costs down, although I don't feel like Garden Crossings charged any more than I would have paid locally for hydrangeas of this quality and size. Shipping was only $30, which I think was great, and proves that buying more can help you maximize your shipping dollar. I wouldn't hesitate to order from Garden Crossings again.

Because I feel like this series is perhaps getting a bit tedious, I'm just going to quickly tack on a note about the final nursery I ordered from this year: Classic Viburnums. I continue to be irritated with the lack of selection of interesting plants available even at the better nurseries near us and I was searching for a specific viburnum: Plicatum f. tomentosum 'Shoshoni'.  This is sort of a dwarf version of 'Mariesii,' which is quickly becoming a favorite in my yard.

Classic Viburnums is pretty much the exact opposite of Garden Crossings. It's essentially a couple running a very specific nursery. There is a website with a lot of cultivar information, but you can't order on it, nor can you find out what they have in stock. You have to call or email, which is what I did and received a quick reply. By the next day I was on the phone with Gary learning that not only did they have a nice 'Shoshoni', but I was also getting advice on an additional virburnum I should get to maximize the shipping cost. With Gary's help I chose Plicatum 'Magic Puff'.

The two shrubs in gallon pots with lots of nice, healthy and well-shaped growth, came in one large box, each strapped in by a nylon strap and in perfect shape. Gary had told me that after I get the shrubs and everything looked good I should mail them a check for the amount on the invoice they sent. Yes, that's right, mail them a check. Which I did, along with a note letting them know how thrilled I was with everything. I'm chalking it up as my single best mail order plant buying experience of the year and I'm certain I'll be back for more.

So that's it. The shopping is finished (except for what I need to buy for the container at work). All that's left now is to get it all in the ground and to get the garden in full-on shape for the summer. And to give my bank account a chance to rest a little.

Here are the other mail order plant reviews I did:
Digging Dog Nursery
Arrowhead Alpines
Joy Creek Nursery

And here are Linda's:
Odyssey Perennials
Far Reaches Farm
Rare Find Nursery / Old House Gardens
Plant Delights Nursery
Arrowhead Alpines


Are you still buying plants or are you mostly finished for the year?