Early Spring Nursery Visit: Sherwood's Forest

I made a promise to myself to not only visit more local nurseries this year, but to post about the visits too. I was inspired to do this by Peter, The Outlaw Gardener, who seemingly visits at least one garden center every day of the year in the nursery-dense Pacific Northwest.

It's still quite early in the season here in St. Louis so the nurseries are only half-stocked or not open yet -- we have one seasonal nursery/grower that will be opening soon -- but I decided to stop in and take a look at Sherwood's Forest on my way home last Saturday.


My visits here usually focus on the four oldest greenhouses -- they've added a few more it seems that I'll look at later -- two for annuals and two for perennials if I remember correctly.

Annuals first, where the gaudiest most colorful plants always seem to be. The early-season bloomers that I almost always ignore, like primrose:

And violas or pansies:

I have to confess that I've never liked these blooms or the plants themselves. They just don't do it for me. They're better when seen in a mass of different colors...

...but you won't be finding these in my garden. I wonder why I don't like them?

Some of the tropicals catch my eye here, like this bird of paradise:

I don't think I'd pay $70 for this even if I didn't already own a bigger one (which I got for free last year).

This Clivia was quite striking...

...but even this amazing foliar structure isn't worth $30 to me...

...especially because it means one more plant that I'd need to overwinter indoors.

Turning my eye back to the color for a minute, I had never really taken a close look at Ranunculus before this year...

...but these are really beautiful! So many colors too:

Love the green center of this one!

I could see potting some of these up and putting them on the deck for a Spring boost!

It seems that at this time of year there are perennials mixed into every greenhouse, and many of them are hostas...

...and I can see why! (I can also see why the deer love these, as they look so tasty!)

I'm sure if I plant this many...

...the deer would never be able to eat them all, right? So wonderful! (But no, I'm not going to pay $60 for what potentially could be a 5-gallon pot of deer chow!)

Question: why are hellebores always $20?

I never see them sold for less in any of the nurseries around here, and they're sometimes even more expensive. Pretty blooms (when they're up on a table so you can actually see them)...

...but I don't understand why the price isn't lower. They're not so rare.

I love bleeding heart blooms, as they're just a marvel of "design"...

...but the varieties with yellow foliage just don't do it for me. They appear to be sickly, lacking in some essential nutrient. Maybe they'd look better in the garden?

Willows always tempt me at this time of year...

...and this Kilmarnock Willow is no exception. So fuzzy!

Into the second annual greenhouse...

...the air so sweet with those baskets of alyssum hanging overhead. Is it June already? Those baskets almost look bloomed out. (I'm not a fan of this scent -- it's too strong for me!)

I am more interested in the herbs, which I want to plant everywhere in my yard...

...even though I end up using so little of them when cooking. (The only convenient place for herbs intended for cooking in my garden is in pots on my deck, and who wants weirdly-pruned plants on their deck?)

It's too early for these veggies...

...but I'm going to come back and get a 'Black Krim' tomato plant in a few weeks. Love this variety! (Also love the variegated shell ginger in front of them!)

Next door into one of the perennial greenhouses...

...they've left plenty of room in front for the special displays. Last summer this is where the Asclepias species were displayed, the "save the monarch!" table.

Some questionable plants here, like the Scotch Broom in front, invasive in some areas: 

Lots of color though...

...but is it late June already? Why would you buy coneflowers that were already halfway finished blooming?

I can easily pass on the coneflowers, but Tassel Fern is tough to resist...

The only reason I didn't buy this is because I might already have it. Plus I don't know if I have any room left for additional ferns under the deck (in the fern beds).

Sedum though, there's always room for in my garden:

But Delosperma doesn't do well in my clay soil -- at least the one I tried several years ago didn't survive. Maybe time to try again?

Oh, and remember that thing I said about the yellow foliage on the Dicentra looking sickly? Using a gardener's double standard I absolutely love this golden spirea foliage:

Maybe it's the red leaf margins, but this to me is superb rather than sickly.

Speaking of sickly, guess what I found on the table with all of the "Heavenly Bamboo" (Nandina)?

It was an actual bamboo, Fargesia nitida 'jiuzhaigou', pruned hard and looking unhappy. Not as unhappy as it will be when planted in a St. Louis garden though, as Fargesia nitida will not tolerate our hot, humid summers and is not as cold-hardy as the label indicates (zone 5!)  It won't last more than a year or two and won't ever put on any size.

The person who paid $80 for this will be sorely disappointed. (Note: I plan on contacting Sherwood's to let them know that this is not a good plant to stock!)

This bamboo though...

...will do quite well here. In fact, "Yellow Groove" bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) is the most widely-planted bamboo in the St. Louis area. The Missouri Botanical Garden has at least three separate plantings of this, and it grows at the St. Louis Zoo too. $120 is a bit steep though, as I think I bought a Yellow Groove of the same size from this same nursery in 2008 for $80.

These plants were obviously not grown locally, as my in-ground Yellow Groove does not even start shooting (producing new culms) until April 15 or so, and these plants have shoots that are already starting to branch out -- at least a month ahead of schedule.

The outdoor displays are still a bit dreary, so I won't continue with my tour...

...and I didn't show you the indoor section where the pots, houseplants, and supplies are. (I forgot to pick up a new bag of Garden-tone this trip!)

I'll take another look at Sherwood's Forest in a few weeks, when all of the tables are full and everything is leafing out. Tomorrow I'll show you a little bit of the two other nurseries that are neighbors to this one.


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Goneferalinidaho  – (March 31, 2015 at 3:10 PM)  

Those prices are so high! We got the same hosta here for $15 and you can easily get a coneflower in that size pot for $7. The cost of living in Boise can't be that low, can it?

Alan  – (March 31, 2015 at 3:35 PM)  

Jeanne: the prices at this nursery and another nearby have certainly increased quite a bit over the last few years. I'll see what the prices are like at nurseries a bit further out. (You can get a 5-gallon hosta for $15?)

Mark and Gaz  – (March 31, 2015 at 4:00 PM)  

They seem to be on the pricey side? And speaking of Dicentra you are spot on with their blooms, amazing design by nature!

outlawgardener  – (March 31, 2015 at 8:24 PM)  

So glad that you're featuring nurseries in your area as I love a good nursery visit and it's very interesting to see how nurseries in different parts of the country do things. For instance, this nursery looks like it has heavy shade cloth up in the houses already. Probably because you get very warm days early on. We're still having highs in the fifties and sixties. Prices do seem a bit high compared to here. Gallon hellebores range from 10 - 20 dollars here depending on the variety. I hope you have as much fun as I do visiting nurseries! BTW, I only visit nurseries on days that end in "Y".

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 1, 2015 at 12:45 PM)  

I agree with everything you said. I bought a $15 hellebore last year (a bargain to your $20 plants) because it looked so awesome in full bloom. I put it in the ground, and while it did flower this year, I just couldn't see the darn flowers because they're dangling down and are low to the ground.

sglassme  – (April 1, 2015 at 4:45 PM)  

Do you have any vocational high schools with a horticulture program in your area? Ours sells 4.5" potted perennials for $3 and gallon hellebores 3/ $15. My yard is fairly shady, so it is a great place to get plants to try without breaking the bank.

Steve Lau  – (April 1, 2015 at 6:14 PM)  

I've seen large pots of p nigra for $345 when I managed to get mine for less than 5% of that cost. Even the F rufas were listed at $125.

Perhaps some people like to start out with huge root bounded plants which don't have that much of a faster start than a smaller plant.

danger garden  – (April 1, 2015 at 10:35 PM)  

I do love a nursery visit, thank you! And like the others have said the prices seems a bit high.

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