My Money Saving Garden Secrets

Trash Lillies

Trash Lillies

Today, I’m going to share one of my best kept money saving gardening secrets.

A few years ago, I suddenly found myself unemployed. I decided to start gardening to enjoy the fresh air and get my thoughts together on my future. But, after visiting my local home and garden centers, I realized that buying potted perennials can be quite expensive. My parents dug up a lilac bush from their garden and “donated” it to my cause. Seeds are pretty economically friendly, but take most of the summer to grow and flower.

Luckily, I eventually stumbled upon some local websites for plant exchanges and I was hopeful once again that I could grow a beautiful garden without going broke. I’ve found that most gardeners are very generous and will share cuttings or divide their plants with anyone willing to take them. I’ve even found a few local websites on Yahoo! that list private postings of plants being offered for free. Sometimes gardeners will dig up their extras and put it in an old pot or plastic bag and just leave them on their porch. They post their address and you just need to drive by their home and pick up your new addition to your garden. I’ve met so many nice garden ladies that will even dig up more plants once you arrive to pick up what was offered. Gardeners love to show off their gardens and sometimes they will give you the grand tour of their handy work. On one such occasion, I had a very generous lady gardener who loaded up my trunk with several varieties of hybrid hostas and lilies. She was so knowledgeable and really inspiring to a newbie gardener such as myself. We sent e-mails back and forth. I kept her updated on the progress of my new plants and I even sent her a few photos of her babies that she shared with me.

Now, comes the good part…my own garden secret to saving money. I’ve been gardening for about 6 years now, and I can recognize basic leaf forms and can identify what plants they are. During the summer, I started noticing in my neighborhood, on garbage day, that people would throw away extra plants from their gardens. I would recognize day-lily plants, yucca plants, garden mums, Easter lilies, etc. I thought to myself…wow, those are plants that I can use. They were in the garbage…they aren’t wanted…so why not take them home and see if they will take.

At first, I was a little embarrassed to take plants from someone’s garbage. But I don’t know them and they don’t know me. What’s to be embarrassed about? The people who throw away perfectly good plants probably aren’t aware that they can post them for free on the internet or don’t want to take the time to advertise them.

So, during the summer I have my favorite local neighborhoods to drive around on garbage day to scope out new plants to add to my garden. Honestly, most of my garden didn’t cost me anything at all…other than some gas in my truck to cruise a few neighborhoods. I’ve been so lucky and found an abundance of rainbow colored lilies thanks to my crafty garden garbage picking. And another secret…a few weeks after Easter, you can find nice Easter lilies, tulips and hyacinths that people have received as gifts. Once they have dried up, most people just toss them into the garbage. They must not realize that they can be planted and like magic…they will come back next year!

More trash lillies

More trash lillies

Another great time to find discarded potted garden plants is a few weeks after Halloween. I find a ton of potted garden mums that don’t get transplanted by their owners. They just toss those mums…pot and all…right into the garden waste trash. So, I have lovely yellow, white, pink, purple and burgundy mums that bloom every fall.

Besides being a huge money saver, finding new plants from the trash is pretty fun because it’s a mystery what color the plant will be. Every year, when they bloom for the first time, I get excited to see what I found. Obviously my garden is very colorful and quite random. I enjoy the gardens that aren’t meticulously planned out. I feel that nature is the best gardener and it shouldn’t be too organized.

Now, I will be honest. Some plants that I transplant don’t make it the next year. Maybe their roots were too dry or they were frozen before I could get them into the ground. I’ve learned to give the plants a good soak in a bucket of water over night to help the roots take better. The majority of what I have transplanted from the trash…always blooms again year after year.

So…my fellow gardeners…go forth and pick those plants from the trash! Let your knowledge be your guide. Don’t be embarrassed! It’s a shame to let the plants die and not give them a new home. Most people recycle plastic, paper and metal so I’ve just taken recycling to a new level… that’s all. Or is that upcycling?

And the very best part of all….it cost me next to nothing!

Trash Lillies

Trash Lillies


Spring…a time to move on

Today is the first day of spring.  Being a home gardener, I always count the days until it’s official.  I scan my garden looking for tiny shoots poking up through the snow. Searching for new life and signs that spring and summer are on it’s way.

At my last inspection for spring life, I found daffodils and hyacinths peeking up.  It’s truly amazing how nature knows exactly the right time to come back from it’s long winters nap.  I don’t try to understand it (although I have read botany and gardening books) … but instead, I try to appreciate that it does happen each and every year.  I don’t have to analyze the science behind it…just be thankful that God and nature has blessed us with this wonderful place to live. 

As I happily think about my garden and look forward to the summer,  I have to think about moving as well.  I’ve lost the battle for my home and it’s going to be sold tomorrow at a sheriff sale.  I’ve been trying to get a modification and was verbally turned down last night.   The attorney has already scheduled a sale for March 21st and since it was denied today, it’s going to be sold.  

So, it’s time to face reality and think about moving on.  I am trying to think of this as a new adventure and a fresh start for my family.  We don’t know where we will live yet, but at least my children will able to finish the school year and we can move over the summer. 

So, my garden will be left behind to a new owner of my home.   I hope they will enjoy it and give it chance to bloom.  I’ve been blessed by receiving many plants from other gardeners who have shared their bounty with me. 

My garden has been a source of so much happiness for me.   I have really learned to appreciate nature and how perfect everything is on earth.  After I lost my job several years ago…I felt lost and so sad. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been unemployed before and it was hard to adjust. I never knew that I had a love for gardening. I’ve always loved flowers from pictures and photos and always enjoyed drawing them. Then, the idea just came to me…to start a garden and make my home look beautiful. But, I didn’t know where to start. So, my parents gave me a lilac bush they had dug up from their own yard…and that’s where it all began.

Soon, I found gardening websites where people post plants that they have divided and want to give some away. Hey…free plants…that’s what I’m talkin’ about! I was unemployed…but looking for something economical to start with and it had my name written all over it. So, I responded to everyone in my local area and I soon became the new owner of many varieties of lilies, hostas, daisies, black-eyed susans and so many more flowering plants. I felt like I had finally found something that I could do that would provide a little peace in my heart and wouldn’t cost me anything but a little time and hard work.

After about 2 years, my garden really started to fill in nicely and I was so proud of my work. I felt so lucky to have a piece from so many gardens. I’ve met many nice ladies who have shared their happiness and knowledge with me.

Now, my daughter has starting helping me in the garden. She loves to dig holes and water the flowers. She’s 6 years old and loves to garden as much as I do. I often refer to us as the “The Garden Girls”. We even planted a vegetable garden a few years ago in our backyard and she especially loves growing fresh vegetables. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

So, as think about the loss…losing our home in a foreclosure…I can’t help but feel a huge sadness, but I’m also becoming more at peace with it. I do plan on taking some plants with me if it’s possible. But, I also know that my garden grows deep…the roots from my hard work are strong…and it will bloom again for whoever buys our home. I’m glad to share my garden with someone new. I was so blessed to have several years here to make it beautiful and I feel a little better knowing that I can pass it on.

I feel like I’ve made my little corner on earth a little more pretty, peaceful and enjoyable…and it was all worth it. Now it’s time to stop being sad and start looking forward to my new garden…where ever it may be.