Why I still need more plants in my garden

Borage - a new plant in my garden this season
I was browsing through some plants for sale at a nearby nursery, contemplating, once again, which plants I should buy for my garden.

A thought flashed through my mind.

"The owners of this nursery know me. I've been coming here for years. I've purchased a lot of plants from them.  I'm getting ready to buy more plants from them.  They might be wondering about me, wondering if perhaps I am killing all these plants, which is why I need more plants. Oh no, they think I am terrible gardener."

Or they could just be happy to have me buying more plants.

I do buy a lot of plants.  Doesn't every gardener? And I'm not talking about buying annuals and vegetables, which of course we buy every year.

I'm talking about trees, shrubs, perennials, and vines.

This spring, I've purchased quite a few plants, including two pawpaw trees, one quince tree, five jostaberries, three flowering quince, three camellias, three Pixie grapes, and let's just say "several" perennials.

Pat on the back for me, please, because other than three Pixie grapes, I have planted all those plants out in the garden somewhere.  None of them, other than the three Pixie grapes, are languishing in pots on the patio.

How in the world did I find room for more plants in a garden I've been gardening in for 18 years? Why isn't the garden full by now?

The answer is a bit of several reasons.

This spring, I actually removed some overgrown viburnums, ripped out some roses that ripped me to shreds for the last time, and moved some blueberries from one location to another.  And I got rid of some Endless Summer hydrangeas that never really did well.  Doing all that early in the spring made quite a bit of room for new plants

And since I re-did the gardens a few years ago, I do have a lot more room for plants in general so I've been adding some each year because most gardens aren't a one-season-of-planting-and-done project.

Plus, of course, some plants up and died on me and left bare spots calling out to be planted or weeded. I chose planted.

I actually keep tags for plants I've had in the garden that are no longer there.  They are in the "dead or missing" file. Other plant tags are supposed to be organized by the garden area where they are.

I think this is a much better filing system than filing alphabetically by plant name. After all, you need the tag because you can't remember the plant name, so it is no good to file them by plant name. You would have to look through them alphabetically to figure out which tag goes with that plant you can't remember the name of. A... B... C.. It would take forever to get to the plant tag for a Zelkova, for example.

It is much better to file plant tags by the approximate location in the garden and then when you want to know what a plant is, you go look at the tags for that garden area and by process of elimination based on which plants you do know the names of, you find the missing name.

Periodically,  you should go through the tags and see if you can find all those plants in that area. If you can't, then you put the tags for the missing plants in the "dead or missing" file.

I'm a few years behind on my plant tag filing. I have plant tags in the garage, by the backdoor, in a basket in the sunroom, and even in the laundry room.  Some of the tags in the laundry are actually quite clean and dry now, since I didn't take them out of my pocket before washing those jeans. Others are dirty because I remembered to check my pockets.

I even have tags in the ground next to some of the plants they belong to.

One year I got the big idea of pinning all the plant tags on a bulletin board in the garage. It took me about a week to figure out that I'd bought too small of a bulletin board to pin all the plant tags on it. And my garage probably wasn't big enough for the size of bulletin board I really needed, so I abandoned that idea.

I think this summer I might round up all the plant tags, again, and organize them by where the plants are, again, and see how big the 'dead or missing' file is, again.  While doing it, I'll reminisce over those plants no longer in the garden and probably end up right back at that nursery, looking over all the plants, deciding which new ones I need.

And that's why I still need more plants in my garden. Not because I am some kind of lousy gardener who kills plants and ends up with a big pile of plant tags to file under "dead or missing".

I still need more plants because I am removing some plants, moving others around, and making more gardens.

I still need more plants because I am a gardener.


  1. I also keep plant tags of plants that have gone by or some that I have. I also make a schmatic (?sp) of each garden and redo them every other year. It usually works great except that sometimes in the Fall I sometimes get some new plants and forget to mark them down, but I also keep a record of whenever I buy new plants with where I get them and the date. These 2 things help me keep track of almost all. There is always the possibility of some little bugger sneaking in.
    Love your blog.

  2. I got a deal last night at the farm supply store.. .10/4-pack of alyssum, reblooming daylilies $1, oregano, nice plants .25,,, filled a wagon,, $11. Way better than sitting on a bar stool for an hour. No such things as too many plants....and someone has to buy locally, right?

  3. Amen Sister...we all need more plants. One of these days I am going to be brave and rip out some shrubs that never bloom and just sit there taunting me. I think they need more sun but sun I don't have to give. You are brave to just rip things out and say goodbye.

  4. Well of course we need new plants every year. Plants die, and must be replaced. But as for keeping your dead or missing tags, well, I'd soon be over run. I keep those into the next season, just to be sure they don't reappear. Then the tag is discarded. My tags are in photo albums with pockets, with annuals in one, and perennials in another. The perennials are arranged by shrubs, roses, herbs, bulbs, and finally general flowers. I constantly go through it to clean it up. It works well except that the tags are slippery, and always try to slide right out of their pockets.

  5. Aha! So that's it! You've summed it up quite nicely, and fits me nearly to a T. As a doctor "practices," so do gardeners.


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