Anyone who has been gardening for a decade or more remembers the old days of ordering plants from Wayside Gardens or White Flower Farm, when plants came bare-rooted, and nothing was shipped much past May. If one wanted container plants, to the Garden Center one had to go-
I remember the UPS truck leaving me big boxes in which plant roots, wrapped up in plastic film, had been hidden beneath quarts and quarts of Styrofoam pellets, which we called “Hort Peanuts”.
And how those peanuts flew! Down the driveway if one opened the box outside. All over the house, if opened in the kitchen. The pellets were lighter than air, but magnetized and would even stick to sweaters and socks.
But somewhere in the box , looking like mummies in their brown shredded paper and plastic suits,were the plants. It took faith to believe that the shriveled little crown and roots within were alive. A few weeks after planting some of these and seeing nothing, I knew that their thin white labels were now headstones.
I see an occasional package with pellets these days, but most plants arrive without, wrapped and taped into their pots by nurseries that know about the destructive G forces unleashed by the tossing, smashing, and bouncing perpetrated by FedEx and UPS on these innocent boxes. Nursery paranoia leads sometimes to over packaging, and it can take ten minutes of slashing away with knife and scissors and getting tape stuck in a ball around your fingers to get the plants out.
I will have to give Burpee top honors for excellent packing. Their plant caddies come with big ventilation holes. and their plants sit snug within, restrained by cardboard sheets that act like the little table trays that keep babies safe in it their high chairs.
Of course it is best to by plants locally, but gardeners who want the latest thing or who collect may only find what they want by long distance shopping, even if the shipping bill is outrageous.
Now, having ripped out great moldy plaques of Lambs’ Ears in June, the gardener can replace it with a “Phyllis Fancy” salvia from Plant Delights in North Carolina, and by September it will look like this-