Having a hard time supporting your plant habit? Or maybe you rent your house and don't want to invest money in a garden you may leave in a few years? You could get a part-time...

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Cost-conscious gardening


Having a hard time supporting your plant habit? Or maybe you rent your house and don’t want to invest money in a garden you may leave in a few years?

You could get a part-time job at a nursery where you’ll receive a discount on plants and get first dibs on the many scrappy-looking plants that end up in the Dumpster. Or, you could read one of these fine books:

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• “Plants for Free: How to Create a Great Garden for Next-to-Nothing,” by Sharon Amos (Time-Life, $16.95), focuses on simple propagation methods and includes a mini-encyclopedia of plants that are easy to divide or start from seed or that root from cuttings. Self-sowing annuals are featured, including Pot Marigold, Lady’s Mantle, Honesty and Rose Campion.

• “The Frugal Gardener: How to Have More Garden for Less Money,” by Catriona Tudor Erler (Rodale, out of print, but available online), also teaches about propagation in addition to chapters on soil, cutting maintenance costs and budget design. The chapter on cost-conscious garden projects gives detailed instructions on building pathways, rustic trellis and PVC pergola.


Frugal Tip:

Create mini-greenhouses for frost-tender plants in the spring by wrapping a wire tomato cage with clear plastic punched with a few holes for ventilation.


Online articles on budget gardening:

www.gardenguides.com/articles/budget.htm


Wreath protection


Extend the life of your Christmas wreath by snipping half an inch off stem ends and submerging the wreath in a pan of tepid water for an hour. When the wreath has dried, spray the needles with an anti-desiccant, available at garden centers.

Indoors, keep wreaths from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Outdoors, place wreaths on the exterior of storm doors to avoid solar heating.


Holly history


Holly, like other evergreens, breathes life into a snowy landscape. With its glossy, rich green foliage and ruby berries that dot the shrublike ornaments, its brilliance in the winter garden can’t be matched.

The red-and-green palette and the familiar jagged leaf shape have been a popular holiday motif since ancient Roman times.

The plant started out as a pagan symbol sacred to Saturn. At the Saturnalia festival, Romans gifted one another with holly wreaths. Centuries later, early Christians decorated their homes with holly to avoid being persecuted.

Eventually, holly became associated with Christmas. In fact, Christmas trees in pre-Victorian times were holly bushes.

Compiled by Seattle Times news services and Tracy Mehlin of the Miller Library, Center for Urban Horticulture.