Building a “Champagne” Garden on a Beer Budget: Part I

The view out my window when I woke up this morning didn’t exactly shout “spring!”, but the angle of the sun has changed noticeably in the past few weeks and I’ve been dealing with a pretty bad case of spring fever. This can mean only one thing – time to start thinking (obsessing) about the garden.
The view from my bed this morning.
Having such a large, blank canvas to landscape, and very little money with which to do it, we’ve had to get somewhat creative in our approach to planting. If you’re in a similar situation, now is the time to get yourself to the local garden center and take advantage of some mid-winter deals. 
I went to one of my favorite places with my mom last weekend on what was a completely miserable “Wet Coast” winter day (read: grey mist and pelting rain), hoping to satisfy my recent gardening cravings. The sight of all those lovely hellebores and primroses was almost overwhelming, and I was tempted to fill my cart with colour (at a hefty price), but then I stumbled upon the clearance rack. 
It wasn’t nearly as exciting to look at, being comprised mainly of pots of soil with a few dead twigs stuck in them, until I started reading the tags and noticed the prices. These perennials had been marked down 50% at the end of the previous growing season, and were now being cleared out for an extra 75% off the sale price! 

I scored Heucheras, Fuschias, Joe Pyeweed, Astibles, Bee Balm, Creeping Thyme and all kinds of other goodies, at a fraction of what I would pay for lush looking ones a few months from now. Perennials are usually expensive, because they come back year after year, and can eventually be divided and spread around the garden, which makes them perfect for a low-maintenance, low-budget garden. In the end, I came home with over $300 worth of plants, but spent only $38.

My one word of caution would be to look for signs of new growth on any clearance items you buy, so you can be sure that it will actually produce for you come spring. Since most perennials should be starting to put out new growth right now (especially if they’re living in a greenhouse), it’s the perfect time to go looking. What better way to spend a wintery weekend?

Now if only this darn snow would melt, I could get these babies into the ground!

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