How did this happen?



It must have been Select Seed’s promise that I could “buy now, pay later.” Like Michele, I have noticed prices from many of my favorite vendors creeping steadily upward over the past couple years; I’ve never had this much of a tab from Select Seeds. However, is $300 too much to pay for a big helping of summer garden confidence? Not for me. I now know my planters and beds will have $300 worth of action, even if the roofing destruction was worse than I thought.

Add this to a mere $90 at Plant Delights and around $50 (so far) from Bluestone (had to take advantage quickly of the 20% off). Nursery shopping won’t begin for a few months. All the same, I would be bored—though certainly wealthier—if I just sat back and watched the same stuff grow year after year. Does anyone ever reach the point where their garden is full? Where they don’t have to buy any seeds or plants at all? I would be very surprised if any Rant reader could say that. Can you?

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. My garden full? Not quite, but it’s getting there. Probably a good thing that we have limited urban space.

    I do have a self-imposed moratorium on buying until I can figure out where I can actually fit more in. Or, until I find something I really really must have. Whichever comes first.

    I know your garden Elizabeth, where the hell are you cramming this stuff in?

  2. That is a lot ‘o seeds! My garden was full years ago but that doesn’t stop me from buying more. There is always the redo of an unsatisfactory bed, or something dies, or grows too large and has to go, or my tastes just change. The need for more plants will never cease.

    Frances at Faire Garden

  3. Like Frances, my garden is full, but I enjoy redoing portions of it each year. My tastes have changed over the years, plus every so often I’ll acquire a new plant that begs for a new, complementary arrangement. Any excuse to buy more plants, right?

  4. My garden is full, too, but do without plant and seed ordering/buying? Unthinkable! After all, I do have containers that need things every year (3 sets at this point–a set for spring, a set for summer, and a set for fall), and I can ALWAYS find room for something that simply called to me, unless that something is a giant redwood.

    After inspecting the garden yesterday, I told myself that I really didn’t need any more fall-planted bulbs, because the little green points are almost as dense as the grass on the lawn. Will I heed my own resolution? Hell, NO! I’ll dig with a teaspoon and FIND a place for more!


  5. I have a cutting garden where I grow some annuals so I usually have room for seeds. Plus I grow veggies so I usually need to buy seed. I have to try every sunflower and sweet pea that comes along. And sometimes I participate in seed exchanges.

    My perennial borders were full, but I am ripping out one huge section this year, so yes I have room for more. Let the sowing begin!

    I have one shelf in the refrigerator that half is full of my seeds.

  6. What a silly question. Of course my garden will never be full enough I just won’t be able to purchase another plant or seed to put in it. Not even in my dreams. Besides it is way too much fun to try new things.

  7. I have the same question as Jim, having also seen your garden. Just shows how much a determined gardener can cram into one small space. Makes me wonder how you’d handle a large garden, short of going broke and creating waaay too much work for yourself. That’s my dilemma. I finally had the garden almost taking care of itself but what fun is that? That thinking recently led, as you know, to ripping out all lawn so I could spend MORE money and do MORE work in the garden.

  8. too bad we’re not neighbors, I’d let you come dig up all the tall verbena you wanted! it comes up everywhere and I LOVE it. last summer though I noticed it’s starting to get mildew, like my zinnias do…

  9. As a nursery manager I see all to often that prices are creeping up; from seed companies, wholesalers, catalog companies, landscapers to garden centers. If you stop to think about it, the green industry is very dependent on fossil fuels. Greenhouses must be heated, water must be pumped, plants must be shipped on trucks and lots of plastic is used to make pots and cover greenhouses. Until we get more serious with alternative energy sources, I unfortunately see no reason prices will go down.

  10. It sure adds up quickly. I know, because I’ve spent a small fortune already on plants since I had a completely blank slate when moving into my new home. I still have a lot of room to fill yet. Hopefully, my seed sowing will be successful and therefore far more economical.

  11. it would have been even worse if you’d bought the 6 pack cells of growing plants..just keep telling yourself that when the check goes through 😉

  12. Elizabeth, how do you start all these seeds without a greenhouse? I’ve almost given up on the windowsill business, finding that it gets me only spindly little plants. Oh, yes–you do it in your basement, right?

  13. Michele, if you look closely, you’ll see that only the last two items are seeds. I am buying plants; SS is one of the few houses that carries many of the old nicotiana and heliotrope varieties, as well as other lants I can’t get locally. However, the little greenhouse room I have set up using 3 really strong compact fluorescents and one big south window is VERY bright. I think I could start seeds in there. I will definitely be giving some canna and colocasia tubers an early start in there this year.

  14. Jim, most of these are annuals and tender perennials (and what the hell does that even mean, I wonder–if it’s too tender to survive the winter then it’s an annual as far as I’m concerned). So I’m replacing a lot of container plants that I use every year. I do have more perennials coming from Bluestone, but those are very small at first, so you have the illusion they will fit.

  15. I have friends who have resorted to troughs and miniature conifers because their gardens can hold no more plants. So far none of them have moved to gain more garden space but that wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Just goes to show that we gardeners will find a way to feed our need for more plants.

  16. That last comment caught me. Yep, my garden was full, so we moved. Ha! Actually the property was sold, so there was no choice. After we moved, I dug up 800 sq. ft. of bermuda grass “lawn” (never again) & had a delightful time reverting to buy everything mode. Somehow the garden seems to be full again. Hmmm ….. Hey, who needs a driveway? Park the car on the street & start digging!

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