Free Plants – Are They Worth It?

I love Gardener’s World magazine, I’m a bit obsessed with it. I kept on buying it every month and then realised I had enough Nectar points for a subscription so now get it that way. I have always been intrigued by the offers for ‘free’ plants, 96 free perennials, just pay postage, surely that has to be too good to be true?

So I decided to try a couple out to see if they were the real deal. The first offer has sold out at the time of writing (but in case it comes back in stock can be found here) and was for 48 free plants for wildlife from Thompson and Morgan.


I was looking forward to the poppies in particular which look beautiful, and although I’ve actually grown Echinacea Pink Parasol from seed, I figured a few more plants would be lovely in my garden. The only cost was of postage at £5.65 and the plug plants were promised by the end of April.

Well at least they kept to the date, because they did not keep to contents! The poppies and echinacea were replaced by other plants which I certainly wouldn’t have ordered myself which was very disappointing. Even worse was the lavenders were mostly dead from overwatering, and I’ve only managed to save 4 of the 12 plants supplied. I have emailed T&M to complain but at the time of writing have had no response.


I really don’t think the plants are great quality either. There are a few dead and yellow ones aside from the lavenders and the rest don’t have the best root systems. I’ve tried to rescue what I can and to be fair I do have almost 40 free plants, but they’re certainly not the ones I expected. In hindsight this probably was too good to be true.

I also tried a second offer, for 42 free Lavender Hidcote plants from Mr Fothergill’s which is still live at the time of writing and can be found here. As someone who has always wanted a lavender hedge in the front garden, the idea of 42 free English lavenders really did seem perfect for me. Postage was £5.95 and the plants were promised by the end of May.

The plants arrived on a Thursday (in April I might add, way ahead of the May deadline) when I was on holiday so I didn’t actually get them until 5 days later, which is a long time for a plug plant not to be watered. However when I collected them from the post office I was so impressed with them. Firstly, they were packaged so much better than the T&M plants, upright for a start and in their own mini greenhouse to keep the water in.


But the best thing was the quality of the plants themselves, which had really strong bushy growth and great root systems. They just seem strong and give me confidence that they will actually grow into full size plants rather than wither away.


Not bad for just over a fiver!


I think in hindsight if the free plants offered are something that you want then they’re definitely worth it. At the end of the day it’s a marketing ploy to get you to buy other things but you don’t have to. Although the T&M plants weren’t quite what I was expecting, if they correct the order they will still have been worth it, and the Mr Fothergill’s lavenders are amazing and I’m really chuffed with them!

Jen

Sweet Sweet Peas

With all the landscaping going on in the garden, it’s easy to forget about the plants! I have sown some seeds (which have taken over the house until I get a greenhouse!) and one of the flowers I’m most excited about are the sweet peas. I’ve down two different varieties: Sweet Pea Heirloom Mix and Sweet Pea Stripe Mix, both of which seem to be fragrant and delicate, everything a sweet pea should be.

I initially planted the sweet peas in compartmented seed trays and then potted them onto small pots, but I’ve since learnt that toilet rolls are a good option for planting sweet peas so the long roots can establish. I’ve also since learn you should soak the seeds overnight, but mine seem to be getting on ok with my amateur methods. I tried to give them straws to grow up, but as you can see they’re a bit past this now and need planting up.

I decided to plant them in pots because our garden just isn’t ready for them to go in the ground yet unfortunately, and train them up a wigwam that I wanted to make. So it was off to the garden centre for plant pots and willow canes. Hopefully as time goes on I’ll have these things just in the shed, but because I’m so new to gardening I don’t have all the supplies yet!


I’ve gently tied all the sweet peas to the stakes with string to encourage them to climb without damaging them. I’m hoping they have enough space as they are but time will tell.


I’m not sure wher I’ll put them yet but hopefully you’ll agree they look quite nice! I’ll be interested to see which variety works the best. Hopefully later in the summer I’ll be able to post pictures of the pots in full bloom.

Jen