One person’s trash is another’s . . . plant

torleyheader062314Way back when, when we lived near Atlanta, I had a good friend who owned a nursery, and I bought many a plant there. Strolling over her acres of plantings, I found something I hadn’t thought about: If plants were past their prime, they got thrown in a dumpster! Horrid! So, here’s my question: Ever been dumpster diving at a nursery?

Naturally I asked Robin first. “Can I please rescue some plants from the dumpster?” Naturally she said, yes because she didn’t like the idea of plants going to waste more than I
did (that I was a member of the garden club at the nursery also helped.)

Anyone but Robin would have been worried that a woman (mumble-mumble) years old would be clambering over, around, and through a dumpster, but I had been on plant rescues with Robin, and she knew I was made of study stuff. Soon after she said yes, I was ready to dumpster dive.

We all know that supermarkets throw away spoiled food, but nurseries throw away things that are alive! Around that dumpster there were partial flats of plants that were past their prime. Slightly withered begonias that the watering wand missed, flats of faded pansies, wilted asters, they all went in the trunk of my car.

The real treasures, though, were inside the dumpster. That’s where they threw the bigger stuff. There were tiny rose bushes in there that practically begged to be taken to a new home. There were small hydrangeas in deplorable condition. There were even azaleas. Azaleas in a dumpster! It was a sad sight, so I pulled out as many as I could and took them all home.

At home I checked them all over for specific problems, not just lack of water or care. Some were root bound, some had sickly roots, some were just too scraggly to sell, and I set to work on repairing them. Every plant got a new pot and new soil. Roots were untangled and sometimes trimmed. Unhealthy branches were removed, larger plants were pruned, and they all got a healthy dose of fertilizer. All the plants were moved to the deck where I could keep a good eye on them and the waiting began.

Morning and afternoon, they were all checked for needs and growth. A little extra water here, a touch more of fertilizer there, a little more shade for the azaleas. And it worked! About 80 percent of those free plants began to grow, then thrive and get planted at the perfect locations in the garden. When we moved from Georgia to Costa Rica, those plants were still strong and healthy.

Amazing what you can find in a dumpster.

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