And the Golfer Scoffed…

IMG_5729…and not only did he scoff, but he laughed and suggested a bet on the side… So what caused this derision? My suggestion that I challenged myself to a year without buying plants…

Having ordered a quantity (it’s all relative!) of plants in recent weeks, with bulbs from Peter Nyssen, dormant snowdrops from Avon, hydrangea and others bits from Crocus,  special offers from Hayloft and the most recent arrival of clematis from Taylor’s, I rather suspected that when everything arrived I would struggle to find places to stuff some of them in, the ‘eyes bigger than the belly’ syndrome. The borders are beginning to fill out with plants that deserve their spots, and the newcomers have been ordered to enhance the borders further – however, although there may be nominal spots in mind, in practice that isn’t always how it works out. Why don’t I just give the garden a chance to settle down and fill out without added help?

And that’s how the idea of abstaining from plant purchases for 2016 was born. If I can successfully eat filling-less sandwiches throughout Lent as I did one year, I can refrain from buying plants for 365 days, can’t I? Except it’s a Leap Year, so that’s 366 days… Actually, I think I can, in fact, like the Little Engine, I know I can – and I certainly wasn’t expecting the Golfer’s derisory reaction! Suggesting that when I inevitably fell by the wayside I should ‘allow’ him to spend an equivalent amount on items of his own choice was unnecessary, I thought, as were threats of putting temptation in my way or surreptitiously removing plants from the garden and leaving obvious gaps…

Underneath this bravado, I suspect he knows that I can and will succeed, rising as I do to challenges requiring self-discipline. I have to confess that there are plants ordered (or will be shortly, like dahlias) that will not arrive till next year, but there will still be twelve months of temptation … Is there anyone out there who would like to join me?

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34 Responses to And the Golfer Scoffed…

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Once my gardens became ‘full’ I had to stop buying new ones and did well for many years. I buy annuals for pots of color on the porch, but I’ve had to discipline myself not to buy or even accept a division from a friend. I can barely manage to care for what I do have. Although I must confess that occasionally I have the fantasy of chucking the majority in the compost and starting over! But you know that’ll never happen! 😉

  2. Jeanette says:

    I would never be able to abstain from buying plants for 365 (or 366) days. Or maybe I’d be able, but I wouldn’t be interested in doing it. I love plants too much. How does a serious hobbyist do without a fix for a year?

  3. I’d love to join you, but I know I’d neither succeed nor enjoy the experience. Buying plants, whether I have room for them or not, is one of my greatest pleasures. I wish you lots of luck!

  4. rusty duck says:

    Cathy, much as I admire your determination in all other circumstances, I don’t think you’ll do it. I certainly wouldn’t..

  5. Julie says:

    Cathy, does this include propagating from cuttings or growing from seed collected from existing plants? If the rules allowed for some deviation 366 days could be doable.

  6. Anna says:

    Hats off to you Mrs if you succeed! Will you still be accepting gifts from friends? I can understand your logic but surely this is asking for supreme self-sacrifice. I almost abstained from buying any new books in 2014, but could not apply the same willpower when it comes to plants so will give your challenge a miss.

  7. Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a plant addict… hahaahaha No way would I make that bet. The only way I could do that would be with the assurance that I would get an equal or double the amount of dollars that were saved in my abstinence. Then it wouldn’t happen. I can say I have had a year with little purchasing. Not in awhile. Holes in the borders. Lovely new shrubs in view. Must fill holes with shrubs. I bet you do too. I do wish you the best of luck in your quest for less.

  8. Kris P says:

    Now that’s an impressive challenge! My husband (not to speak of all of my friends) would choke if I made that bet and as I’m preparing to remove my 2 remaining sections of lawn while living in hope that the promised wet El Nino year will arrive this winter as promised, there’s not a chance I’d jump on-board with you in 2016. I trust that seeds and propagation of existing plants doesn’t count?

  9. Good luck!!! That doesn’t include seed packets right?!

  10. homeslip says:

    I think that’s a very good resolution. With seed sowing, taking cuttings and splitting clumps (I call this free gardening) I think you’ll do very well and I have every confidence you’ll succeed. It could become as addictive and satisfying as In a vase on Monday.

  11. Crikey you’ve gone and done it now.! I will not be joining you as I have serious amounts of planting to do to make my space a garden.
    Are we allowed to send you cuttings are you allowed to propagate or be growing seeds, there are so many ways you can meet this challenge.

  12. Gillian says:

    Thanks for the invitation Cathy but I know that I wouldn’t be able to go a month without new plants never mind an entire year. In fact I’m already planning on completely redoing part of the garden just so I can fit some new plants in. Wishing you the very best of luck anyway, I’m sure you will succeed without us joining in!

  13. Hoe hoe grow says:

    Why put yourself through such misery ? 🙂 I couldn’t do it, I know for a fact. Are you allowing yourself to buy and grow seeds ? That would make it much more bearable I think. I really couldn’t imagine not being able to do that! I shall await your updates , and think you are very, very brave …

  14. bittster says:

    What a brave one you are. Do seeds count? How about (dormant of course) bulbs? What if you receive a gift certificate, that surely shouldn’t count if used?
    I fell like you’ve jumped into this. I would have pre-ordered more than just a few dahlias, but I know you can do it!

  15. johnvic8 says:

    I’m afraid I can’t join you. Just too weak…a sucker for a pretty face.

  16. Charlie says:

    My Gosh, I’d love to be able to say I could do that!
    Though I am starting to plan for our front garden, which currently remains untouched, and I’ll be blogging about it no doubt throughout next year.
    I commend you though! My nan refrains from buying every now and then, and she has a wonderful, overflowing cottage style garden mainly built up from cuttings!
    I look forward to seeing how you get on 🙂

  17. Helene says:

    Thanks for the invitation, but….I have just moved into a new house and I know I would NOT be able to do it, not the next 12 months at least. However, I intend to use plantswap websites to get as much plants as I can for my new garden, surely that would be a way for you to acquire new plants without spending a penny – and not in breach of the rules? You don’t BUY the plants, you swap your own cuttings, seedlings and divisions for interesting plants from other plantaholics – and often get some new gardening friends too.
    Here’s one website to get you started if you haven’t seen these, this is my own page on Green Plant Swap:

  18. Sam says:

    Very commendable. I won’t be joining you as I have gift vouchers and lots of space to fill but I look forward to seeing how you get on. Good luck 🙂

  19. Helen Johnstone says:

    When I was toying with moving house I stopped buying plants, the Malvern spring show was a nightmare and I was miserable. It’s my passion and my only real vice (I think!). I have however become more careful, mostly, in my purchases. I can now visit a garden without any purchases. I give myself a cooling off period before I hit the buy button on the Internet and I am identifying some suppliers/nurseries that I won’t be buying from again. I try to have in my mind where I want plants for before I go out so when I have the opportunity to buy I normally manage to focus on buying something for a particular space – however I would be lying if I didn’t admit to lots of impulse buys, but we are human.

  20. I did this very thing last year because my surgery forced me to not do any gardening….no spring bulbs, no plants….just seeds for annuals, annual plants for containers (not many) and veggie seeds. And I loved it. This year I bought a few things in spring and had loads of bulbs ordered for fall…now an injury had me cancel the bulb order and I will end up heeling in the plants somewhere until I have time next year to plant them…and I am abstaining from more plants again……that is until I have my gardens planned, in order and an overall plan worked out.

  21. Christina says:

    Sorry I don’t think I can promise to join you in your abstinence

  22. Chloris says:

    Is this a knee jerk reaction as a result of all that buying? I always feel guilty after over spending and promise myself no more plant buying for a while. Luckily the guilt soon passes. I shall certainly not be joining you. I do grow lots from seeds and cuttings but buying plants is one of the supreme pleasures in life.

  23. I did exactly that for two years and survived just fine. The last few years I have bought a few annuals for containers, propagated and divided new plants and have traded plants mostly with other Master Gardeners. I’ve survived just fine. Looking forward to hearing how your challenge goes in 2016. 🙂

  24. I will not be joining on this, though my husband is challenging me not to plant a vegetable garden at all next year. I could spend more time with the flowers, but I know neither will ever happen. Good luck.

  25. AnnetteM says:

    Wow – what a lot of reactions! I am a bit late reading this, but I am with the majority. I couldn’t do it. However if you have seeds for bedding plants and friends who will donate things it might make you concentrate more on cuttings and looking more carefully about what you have and how it should be arranged. Good for you. Please do let me know if you would like anything from my garden – I am happy to send.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annette – I was surprised at how many would not favour austerity in this respect, as in theory in a maturing garden you shouldn’t need to keep adding plants… It’s that word again, though -‘need’… 😉

  26. Pingback: Looking Back | Words and Herbs

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