Panic Buying

We stocked up on a few things during our last trip to the store, things like chocolate chips, cheese, and icecream, all the essentials you’d need to live on cookies and pizza for the next few weeks, but we were happy enough to skip the toilet paper aisle.  My wife has been hoarding toilet paper since before it was cool, so even with the current demand for paper products we still have at least a month before we need to crack open the paper towel vault.  We all have our panic point though, and mine was warming weather and a lack of any decently sized camellias in the garden, so Friday order, Wednesday ship, and Thursday a sigh of relief.

“Hardy” camellias from Camellia Forest Nursery.  Huge plants, awesome quality… much better than I could ever have imagined!

Panic buying is not based in rational thought, and camellias are not hardy in my zone, but… I’ve been dabbling with a few seedlings.  They’ve survived.  I spoke with Charles Cresson who grows many camellias in his Swarthmore Pa garden.  He suggested I look into the Korean forms of Camellia japonica.  Things were researched, plants were purchased 🙂

When I say camellias are not hardy in my area I mean to say most camellias are not hardy here.  Charles knows a thing or two about camellias, and has been growing them for decades a zone or two south of here, and he pointed me towards the Camellia japonica genetics collected by Barry Yinger in the late 70’s to early 90’s from islands off the Korean Peninsula.  To hear the story of seed collecting under armed escort within sight of North Korea sounds like quite the adventure, but the more restrained Morris Arboretum version is available here.  I’ve heard the hardiest of the seedlings have survived -29F.

So we will see.  Obviously I don’t know where they will be planted.  The two magnolias don’t have a home either, but it’s good to be prepared.

21 comments on “Panic Buying

  1. johnvic8 says:

    I have been to Camellia Forest many times and met the owner. Gave us ‘Our Linda’ when he spent the night with us when he spoke to our garden club. Quality place. Hope yours do well as we say “up nawth”

    • bittster says:

      Thanks for the connection. I love being a part of stories like yours just through a single purchase, so much nicer than just picking up a pot at the box store.
      Of the four new purchases, I have high hopes for the two Korean types, mild optimism for the Ackerman hybrid, and the fourth plant will remain in its pot 🙂
      All the best John.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This is my kind of panic purchase. These will keep you busy. I bet you can find a place to tuck these babies in so they will survive. Good luck.

    • bittster says:

      Gardeners are lucky right now, we have a thousand things to keep our minds busy while others sit in front of the tv or haunt social media.
      We have one cold night this week and then a warm spell. I’d consider planting them out after that but they’re still Carolina soft so I might wait until after the last frost date. I can baby them until then.

  3. Cathy says:

    Lovely panic purchase – wish I’d saved the money I spent on toilet paper! Enjoy them. Sounds like you had brilliant advice.

    • bittster says:

      I did get lucky with the camellia-guidance, so now we will see how it goes!
      There is again plenty of toilet paper to be found but we do have more shopping options locally. Even with a normal supply I have to admit there’s a certain urge to buy more when I see it!

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    The most hopeful of posts, Frank. Gardeners are the ultimate optimists as we believe in best outcomes, at least the evidence suggests it! Hope they all grow splendidly for you. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I hope they do well, but even if they don’t I’m sure there will be some other exciting plant on the horizon next month. I still think it beats spending money on expensive sneakers and lottery tickets.
      Hmmm, come to think of it camellias in NE Pa are kind of a gamble, but my chances are a still better than scratch-offs imo.

  5. Tim says:

    Excellent, and in a pinch, you can probably make tea from the leaves! I just began planting a large order received last week — you needed camellias, I needed thalictrums, it seems. And more echinaceas. and a peony. and some agapanthus. Dahlias, multiple dahlias, it’s hard to know why just now. Four hostas, just food for the deer. Apparently I take retail therapy seriously.

    • bittster says:

      Now that sounds interesting! I’m judging you a bit on the echinaceas since I’ve not had the best luck, but agapanthus, thalictrums, and dahlias sounds right up my alley! So far T. rochebrunuanum is the only one which I’ve had luck with (I’ve been cheap and have only tried various seeds) but the luck I’ve had has been exceptional! Lavender clouds six feet up, I love it. Also I’ve started to see seedlings and am willing to rip other things out to have a thicket of these, they’re so cool.
      Every day I fight the urge to fill a cart with dahlias at Brent and Becky’s. The prices are reasonable, love the selection, but I can’t cram them in like I do everything else, they really need a good spot of their own and I promised myself to grow a few more vegetables int he vegetable garden this year.
      Actually I believe dahlia tubers are edible. Hmmmm.

  6. Good luck with those camellias! I’ll be interested to hear how they do for you.

    • bittster says:

      I think ‘Korean Fire’ is the one which survived -29F. Just imagine a camellia in your cold climate garden! Maybe this summer I’ll try a cutting.

  7. Cathy says:

    Good to see you have your priorities right when it comes to panic buying! I have no experience with Camellias at all as they are a rare sight here as well. They have just announced complete lockdown in Bavaria with only supermarkets open, but we made sure we had all our garden supplies last week. 😃 The extra time at home may however lead to more online shopping as almost all nurseries offer deliveries now! 😜 Good luck with your Camellias and hope you have warm weather for gardening. ☀️

    • bittster says:

      Glad to hear you are well prepared. It’s a good time to have the garden to retreat to, and spring always gives you more jobs than there’s time to do them.
      I wanted to get out to the nurseries before the shutdowns started, but it’s just a couple weeks too early, and all the good ones are still closed or the benches are still empty. I can be patient though, planting annuals in August is not unheard of in this garden 😉
      All the best.

  8. Have you seen the article on Margery Fish’s snowdrops in the Feb. issue of Gardens Illustrated? I had just talked myself out of ordering any snowdrops from Odyssey Bulbs and now . . . Big question is will they actually be shipped, will I be alive when they arrive and will I still care. Weird to be thinking like this. But I do have a crazy amount of plants already ordered online. Thank goodness as the nurseries probably won’t be open for in person shopping. We have a lot of Korean maples which look like Jp. maples in terms of leaf shape and fall color but are hardy here, so you may be onto something with your purchases. Have been thinking about all my garden blog friends and thinking that getting our hands in the dirt is what will keep us sane.

    • bittster says:

      Well if you make it through this lmk, my snowdrop offer still holds!
      Once things get a bit warmer and the garden demands more attention I think it will be easier to handle the nonstop virus thoughts. Oddly enough I was much more panicked during the weeks when nothing was being done than I am now that our state is shut down.
      We are lucky that we can handle a few weeks of downtime, but I fear for all the people who are going to be on the edge within days of their last paycheck, and for those shuttered away in fear due to health concerns. I also fear for the ones who don’t care. It was easier to ignore them before, but now to know how many walk amongst us is chilling.

  9. You have your priorities right, Frank. I read that there has been a run on seed buying, too. Gardeners will get through this crisis better than anyone else. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Yes, the garden is more of a refuge than ever before.
      I have to admit I’m one of the many who are re-working the vegetable garden this year. Home grown sounds more important than ever, so maybe a few less chrysanthemum and a few more carrots this summer 😉

  10. Your wife is quite the trendsetter. My spouse also has been building up her Strategic TP Reserve for months. If only I could convince her to buy ice cream, but freezer space is precious. Quite distraught that garden centers, along with other “non-essential” businesses, are now closed. Thank goodness for online shopping. Good luck with your Camelias!

    • bittster says:

      Great minds must think alike!
      Yes it’s sad to see nurseries closed, yet home improvement nursery departments are open. That’s yet another hard hurdle for the local nurseries to overcome and I hope people don’t forget them. One plus is that greenhouses are open in PA, I think because so many vegetable gardens rely on them. I won’t be doing the usual running around and lingering but will pick up a few transplants.

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