Garden Center Secrets – 10 Tips for getting the best price at your garden center

Cottage garden
My beautiful cottage garden, filled with bargains from my local garden center!

One of my favorite things to watch for in the spring, besides my garden coming alive, is… the opening up of local garden centers.

I get such joy, when I see the workers pulling out bags of fertilizer, soil mixes, and potted trees & shrubs, and I know that the center is almost ready to be open for business.

I’ve learned alot while shopping at these places, and I have also learned some secrets along the way!

You know how I am… I love to find ways that I can still have exactly what I love, while finding it for the best deal possible, if not for free. And, although that may seem impossible to some people, I see the process as an adventure!

The local place that you buy your garden plants might be called a landscape center (or centre – depending on where you live), plant center, nursery center, farm center, or a garden center, but whatever your center is called, the following 10 tips will still apply to you.

Tip #1: ALWAYS grab a cart as you walk in
Not only will it be holding your new found treasures, but it also speaks “I am here to buy” to the those that you might be speaking to.

Tip #2: Don’t get distracted
When you are shopping for the best deal, there are a few “best practices” that you want to go by. One of them is, go for the best deals first, then take your time to browse around. If you don’t do this, you stand the chance of someone else walking out with your deal!

Tip #3: ALWAYS smile & be truly friendly to the staff
You are most likely going to be making frequent stops to the center throughout the season, and you want as many friends as possible on the inside. Besides, they deal with enough grumpy people throughout the day, so your kindness will be a welcomed treat. I always ask myself…how can someone come into a place filled with such beauty and still be Mr/Mrs grumpy pants? Somehow some people still find a way…ugh! Do you think the staff looks forward to helping people like that? I think not!

Tip #4: Look for ripped bags
Because garden centers sell so many bags of soil, fertilizer, grass seed, and other bagged items, many times these bags get ripped. Instead of just throwing them away, many times they will put them in a plastic bag and sell them at a very deep discounted price! I’ve seen bags of product that might have originally cost $50, get marked down to $5! So, if you are in the market for grass seed, fertilizer, compost, or other bagged products, this is a great way to get the best deal!

Tip #5: Head for the clearance racks!
Unlike stores that sell other types of merchandise, garden centers have the challenge of dealing with living products, that are constantly moving through different stages of their life cycle. Unfortunately for the center, it is much harder to sell a flowering plant that is not yet in flower, or a perennial that has just finished flowering. Fortunately for us, we know that this is only a stage in the life cycle, and that this little plant will once again come into bloom!

Terrace Garden Cobblestone Steps
Ivy that I got for $2 per flat – 12 plants per flat!

Cottage garden
This gaura filled in so nicely & became a large focal point of my cottage garden – great deal for $1.50!

Of course, this is only one reason why plants are put into the clearance section. Maybe the plants aren’t selling, or perhaps they don’t look as fresh as they once did? Whatever the reason, many GREAT deals are to be had in this section. I have purchased many .50, $1, $2.50 plants, that were normally $10, $15, or $40! The only plants that I do not buy in this section, are annuals that have already spent all of their blooms.

Tip #6: Do a quick scan for sale signs
Each store has a particular color that they use for their “sale” signs. Learn what color your garden center uses, then do a quick scan down the isles to catch a glimpse of where the sales might be.

Tip #7: Ask for help
Many people that work in the plant center are full of knowledge, and want to help you succeed with your garden. Ask lots of questions, so that you can gain as much knowledge as possible about the plants you are about to purchase. This is free help, that will be very valuable to you!

Tip #8: Try to find a male employee to work with, when you’re looking for a deal ;)
I’m sorry guys, but it’s SO true! Maybe they were put in the plant section because it was the only job opening in the store? Maybe they want to keep things less cluttered? Maybe they have different taste about what plants are attractive? I’m not exactly sure of the reason, but in my experience, they try to “get rid” of things as quick as possible…especially at the end of the season!

Tip #9: Ask for the deal (my favorite secret!)
You have no idea how many times I was able to get a great deal, just because I asked! You may need to speak with a manager to get a better deal, but after you spend enough time at your garden center, you will come to know the staff and who you might need to talk to.

Here are a few examples of “deal starter questions” to ask.

- Is this the best price available?
- It looks like you have alot of these could I help you move them quicker?
- This plant looks a little tired, maybe there is a better price you could give me?
- If I were to buy several of these, what kind of deal could you give me?

True Story:
I sent a friend of mine to go pick up some large pots of flowers for the church. I described the ones I wanted to her, as I had fallen in love with them over the past week. They were very LARGE pots of ivy planted in a ring. The center opening of the ring was the size of an average pot of flowers. This opening made it possible to remove the current flowers, and replace them with different ones to match each season. They were so beautiful & I knew that we could do so much with them at the church.

I knew that they were currently priced at $19, and for the huge amount of ivy and the beautiful burgundy mums that were currently placed in the center, I thought that was a great deal. I told her to talk to a manager, and say… “we would like to purchase some of these pots for the church. I see that they are on sale. Is this the best price today?” When she found the manager and asked him, he said to her… “Well, I think that those plants are so ugly & I want them out of here! You can have them for $2.50 each!”

We purchased them in the fall, so we left the beautiful mums in the center until Christmas, then we replaced them with poinsettias. We were able to use spring flowers for a while, but because the ivy is an outdoor variety, it is now looking a bit tired…so I will plant it outside so we can continue to enjoy it! So much enjoyment for SO LITTLE money…all because we asked!

True Story:
I went into one of my favorite garden centers, and as I walked through the doors, I noticed a pallet of roses that had a sale tag of $5 each. Needless to say, I grabbed a long flat plant cart instead of the regular shopping cart. I looked at all of the roses in the store, not just the ones on the sale pallet. I found a male employee/manager, and said…”I see that there are some roses that are marked $5 here on the pallet, but how much are the similar roses over there in the back?” He said… “hmmm, well, I guess you can have any of the roses for $5″!

Quickly thinking about my new gardens that need plants, I said…”Well, you see that I have already this large plant cart with me, and that I am prepared to buy. So, if I bought several roses, what kind of deal could you give me today?” He thought for a second and said…”If you buy several, you can have them for $2.50 each” Trying not to act to crazy with excitement, I said with a smile… “ok you have a deal”. Then, I proceeded to quickly find the most beautiful, most healthy, and biggest plants in the store! I was able to quickly set aside $600 of gorgeous roses… for which I only paid $37.50!

Cottage garden
My beautiful CHEAP roses!

That day I also picked up all of the remaining LARGE rhododendrons for only $6 each, which normally sold for $45 each! I got that deal buy saying…”You saw all of those roses that I just took off your hands, so you know I’m a buyer! I see that there are 8 rhododendrons left on the shelf over there. What price would you give me, if I were to buy them all?” He said… “If you take them all, you can have them for $6 each!” So off I went singing the Hallelujah chorus, and giving thanks all the way to the car!

Rhododendrons in the cottage garden
Gorgeous Rhododendrons!

Cottage garden
Hardy Hibiscus only $10 for a box of 15 LARGE roots!

* At the end of the season you can get SUCH good deals, so I make it a point to go in more often during the last weeks of the season!

Tip #9: Leave your number
Because garden centers have to pay to have dis-guarded plants & un-purchased merchandise hauled away, many times they will be open to having you haul it away for them…for free of course ;) Just talk to them about their policy, then offer to leave you number, and tell them to feel free to call you when they have items that they can’t sell. If they are of interest to you, this is a way to get them free of charge. Of course the plants will most likely need a little TLC, but hey… you’re a gardener & that’s what you do!

Tip #10: Visit Often!
Not only will this help you to become more familiar with the plants, but you will also be able to develop a better relationship with the staff. You will also start to see the patterns that happen in your stores every week.

For example:

- There are new sales with each new shipment to help make room for new plants.
- There are new sales every week to go with the newspaper ads.
- Clearance mark downs happen on a whim… first come first served!
* Many times employees will be in the process of marking items down, and you can ask “what else is going on sale & can you make a sticker for me?”

If you don’t visit often, you will miss out on all of these great deals!

Of course… the best reason to visit often is… just because you want to ;)

Enjoy your new deals, and making your garden exactly what you want it to be!

What tips or thoughts do you have? Be sure to leave them in the comment section below!

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Canaries Add Beauty And Song to Your Home

canary cage
There’s nothing quite as relaxing, as being blessed with an early morning serenade of song, from the chorus line of finches outside of my bedroom window in early Spring.

It starts as soon as the snow starts to melt, and for some reason, they start warming up around 4am. Not that I’m always up at 4am, but occasionally, I roll over & become startled just enough to catch the beginnings of what promises to be a day filled with inspirational song.

I think you would love a canary of your own, who was always there to sing for you!

Having raised parrots & different types of birds for several years myself, I can speak first hand of the joys of having an avian friend in your home.

Not only are canaries easy to care for, but their beauty is unmatched, both in appearance & song! They come in all shades of white, brown, red, and of course yellow.

Each type of canary has it’s own unique singing style, so it would be best for you to listen to a few different types of birds sing, before you decide which one you would like to call your own.

Beautiful Cages

If you know me at all, you already know how much I love bird cages! There’s just something about them, that is so wonderfully heartwarming to me. I never seem to tire of seeing a beautiful cage. Perhaps it reminds me of the joys of raising birds that my family shared together. In any case, to me…nothing speaks “elegant” more than a beautiful bird cage in your home! And what better use of a beautiful cage, than to be a home for a beautiful singer!

Cost

You can find canaries for $35-$100. The price depends on the area in which you live, as well as the type of canary that you ultimately decide to purchase.

Having a singing canary in your home means… never again will you have to wait for spring to enjoy the joyful songs in your home!

I thought you might enjoy hearing a few different canaries perform. I’m sorry ahead of time, because I know you wont be able to resist after hearing them ;)





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Secret Way to Always Get The Sale Price

I’ve heard people say things like… “if we just wait to shop until after Christmas, we can get everything so much cheaper, when it goes on sale!”

Well… I have a secret!

I know how you can shop, and still get the sale price… even if it doesn’t go on sale for another month!

Here’s a scenario that I know you have all been through at least once… and I know that you hate it as much as I used to!

- You go out shopping for a particular item

- You go from store to store trying to find the best deal

- You finally make a decision to buy thinking you’ve done your best in making the choice

- A week later, you are in the same store and notice that the item you bought last week now has a sale tag on it for $20 less than you paid!

UGH!!!

Well, when I learned this little secret, I didn’t have to worry about that scenario anymore!

When you’re used to being the person who does the shopping in your household, you learn lots of little tips to try to save a few dollars here and there.

Most of us know about money savers such as; shopping with coupons, finding clearance items, and price matching. But until now, maybe you’ve never heard of the “price guarantee”?

After you learn this method, here’s how your new shopping scenario unfolds!

- You go out shopping for a particular item

- You go from store to store trying to find the best deal

- You finally make a decision to buy thinking you’ve done your best in making the choice

- A week later, you are in the same store and notice that the item you bought last week now has a sale tag on it for $20 less than you paid!

- You take your receipt up to customer service & tell them you want a price guarantee for an item, and they scan the receipt. If you paid $40, but it is now on sale for $20… they hand you $20 back in CASH!

Did you catch that?

You don’t have to bring the actual item back in – you just hand them the receipt!

What does this mean for you?

If you bought aunt Mary a pair of gloves for Christmas for $40, and now they went on sale for $20, you can simply take in your receipt and get $20 cash back… and aunt Mary is none the wiser ;)

Think… holiday decorations, seasonal clothes, seasonal gifts, etc. – you know… the items that always tend to go on sale soon after the holiday. But don’t limit yourself to seasonal items! This method works for anything!

Here is the step by step process for making this work for you:

Step #1: When you are shopping, always keep a little ziplock bag, pen, & piece of paper with you

Step #2: Put your receipts in the ziplock bag

Step #3: While in the store check outline, look for the time frame for the price guarantee in the store policies. Some stores have a limit of 1 week, while others have up to 3 months! Their policies are usually posted at the checkout area, if not just ask. Jot down the store name & time limit for price guarantee on the piece of paper that you keep in the ziplock bag with your receipts. That way you’ll have it for future reference.

* Different stores have their own name for this service, and might be called something such as price match, price satisfaction, etc.

Step #4: If you see an item that is now on sale while you are out shopping – take out your little ziplock bag – check the store policy – look for the receipt with this item on it… then go get yourself some cash!

I hope this little tip comes in handy, and helps you save even more money while shopping!

Pearl

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Happy Thanksgiving – Take Peace

Thanksgiving

I wanted wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and share a wonderful letter of encouragement that was written to a dear friend back in 1513.

Although it was written so long ago, the words still ring true for us today.

“I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not got. But there is much, very much, that while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instance. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy!

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty . . . that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it, that is all!

And so I greet you, with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

“Fra Giovanni, 1513



I want to encourage you today….
Take Peace
Take Joy
and Take Heaven

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Cottage Gardens and Roses

Three months later…

Cottage garden
From front to back: blue salvia, knockout roses, gaura/chiffon cloud

I wanted to share a pictorial update on one of the brand new cottage gardens, that we created this year.

This coming Spring, we will also add a front cottage courtyard, and a side garden filled with fruit trees and ornamental fragrant shrubs.

For this new cottage/rose garden, what I thought might take three years, has happened in only three months!

Here is the cottage garden just after we built the stacked stone walls & the cobblestone paths this June. It was quite a large task… but oh so worth it!

And as you know… I love to use creative ideas to achieve the look & feel that I want, but for much cheaper than what “normal” people might pay for the same thing! So as you can guess, almost every plant in our garden was purchased at a VERY nice discount price, or given to us by friends!

*** Also…be on the lookout for the next post, as I am excited to share my “top tips for getting your garden filled with plants for pennies on the dollar” with you! These are very easy things things that you can start doing right now to fill your garden with luscious beauty!

My Cottage Garden… at only 3 months old!

Cottage Garden
to the left: boxwood, wooly thyme, gaura/chiffon cloud, knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: boxwood, wooly thyme, knockout roses, gaura/chiffon cloud, foxgloves

Cottage garden
foxgloves, knockout roses

Cottage garden
knockout roses

Cottage garden
iris, knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: boxwood, White dwarf phlox, sedum, touran rockfoil saxifraga, knockout roses, iberis – tahoe, iris, ajuga

Cottage garden
lobelia, ajuga, armeria, sedum

Cottage garden
Knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: wooly thyme between rocks, boxwood, knockout roses, gaura, foxglove

Cottage garden
gaura surrounded by boxwood & pink knockout roses

Cottage garden
left to right: boxwood, gaura, foxglove, knockout carpet roses, dwarf phlox, iris, blue salvia

Cottage garden
lobelia backed up by armeria

Cottage garden
hardy hibiscus

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

** Share your thoughts in the comment section below… I look forward to hearing from you!

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Create Beautifully Decorated Walls in 3 Easy Steps!

Recently, I had a reader ask me this question:

“We are a bit short of money, but I am tired of looking at the same old boring walls. I can’t really afford to buy anything (I’d feel too guilty even if I did). Is there anyway of making decorations at home?”



There are times in all of our lives, when money is tight & we are more conscious of what we spend. But, I am here to tell you… the amount of money that you have or don’t have never has to stop your creativity when it comes to decorating your home!

To be honest with you, when this question was asked, I had a flood of ideas that came to mind right away!

But, I know our minds tend work! We go into “decision mode” where we question everything so much, that we tend to just not make a decision at all! We start thinking thoughts like…

- I don’t know which is the “right” one to pick

- I don’t know if this is really a good idea

- What will my friends think of my choice

- Can I really make something look nice enough with little or no money

So… to help simplify things, and make sure that you act on your creative ideas, I wanted to pass along a few “proven ideas” that you can go create RIGHT NOW! That way, you & your family can enjoy them right away… and you won’t get trapped by overcomplicating the decision making process!

3 Simple Rules to Creating a Beautifully Decorated Wall

When decorating a wall, there are only 3 easy Steps to follow! It’s not rocket science, and you CAN do it… and do it beautifully!

And the most exciting thing? None of these concepts cost any extra money ;)

Rule #1 – Size

When you are considering ideas for decorating a “whole wall” remember that in order to get a pleasant visual balance, a larger item or collection of items is always better than one small item.

Reason? If you plop one small item in the middle of a large wall, your eye is drawn right to the small item, and your brain automatically says “wow that picture (or whatever is hanging there) is small”! Your wall is also left with a “never go around to finishing it” look.

Rule #2 – Family

Think about your family. Even though each person is different, there is still something that holds you all together and makes you a unit. This is the idea that I want you to remember when you are making your decorating choices. So with that in mind, when deciding which items will have the honor of hanging on your wall for all to see, they don’t have to all be the same (although they could be if that’s the look that you are going for), but they need to still be related in some way… even if they are distant cousins twice removed ;)

Use items that are related in either of these 3 ways:

- Color

- Style

- Theme

Rule #3 – Balance

Your goal is to try to achieve some sort of balance, so that your wall decor will be pleasing to the eye. This simply means, that instead of randomly placing things here or there, try to think of how that item looks in perspective to the other items around it, as well as in relation to the whole wall.

And that’s it as far as “how to” decorate my walls, and now it’s on to the “what to” decorate my walls with!

I want you to clear your mind of the limiting thoughts such as… “what’s allowed to be used as wall decor”!

Why? Because when it comes to “what” is allowed to be used to decorate your own walls… there are no rules!

When trying to decorate with a limited budget, we need to think differently than the “spend to decorate” mindset.

What I want you to do is:

1. Take out a piece of paper & write down the things that you LOVE!

2. Take a walk around your house/attic/basement/garage and look at the items that you already have – jot down your favs

3. If there are things on your “love list” that you don’t have, is there a way to get/make those without spending?

Now lets go through those one at a time

1. What is it that you love?

- What are your eyes automatically drawn to when looking through magazines

- Collections

- Items that belonged to loved ones

- Childhood toys

- Animals

- Gardening

Just fill in the blank & really think about what it is that makes your heart smile when you look at it.

2. After you took a walk around your house & all the nooks & crannies… what did you find?

- Maybe grandma’s collection of aprons or hankies?

- Your childhood collection of baseball cards or sports items?

- A collection of small chairs that you really didn’t know what to do with, but you kept them because you loved them?

- Some pretty scraps of fabric that you planned to make into a quilt someday?

- Some old doors / windows that you found on the side of the road – had no idea what to do with them – but they are still with you?

You see, as you go through your own home, and ask yourself these types of questions, you will start to see a common thread. You will find some things that you hang onto just because you love them. They may be tucked away in a box, stashed in a drawer, or stored in the basement. You have no idea what to do with them, you just know that you keep them because they mean something to you.

3. There might be some things that are on your “love list” that you don’t currently have. Try to think of a creative way to possibly get a few of those things to use in our project.

- Could you make it from other items that you do already have?

- Maybe a friend has one & doesn’t use it anymore?

- Could it be found curbside on trash day?

- Maybe it’s listed in the free section of Craigslist?

- After sale giveaway (when a yard sale is over, most people want to find someone to come get all the leftovers!)

- $1 box at an estate auction (I have found LOTS of treasures this way!

- I bet you could barter either an item – or a skill/talent in exchange for it!

Look at these creative ideas to help get your ideas rolling!

These vintage hand mirrors are related by theme & color

vintage mirrors

This setting is not only related by theme, but by color as well.

mini clocks

I love this display idea, because you could change up the purses each season if you’d like!

purse collection

Just a simple shelf filled with some of your favorite bowls makes a beautiful display!

yellow-ware bowls

Use bits of paper & cover a wall like Pam did here – beautiful!

scrap paper covered wall

This beautiful wall speaks of size (scale).

vintage window

This wall will give you an idea of how to balance the display.

wall decor

How about displaying your garden tools – or other similar items?

vintage garden tools

I hope these ideas have helped stir your imagination & give you a new perspective of what is possible when you open up your mind to new creative ideas!

Pearl

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