As much as I like to discover wondrous new things, I can be a stick in the mud when it comes to the tried and true.
Got green beans? So do I and it’s always Rattlesnake pole beans.
Best green pepper? New Ace, by the basketful.
Nicest new potato? Dark Red Norland on an August dinner table fits the bill any night.
The same applies to places where I find my treasures on the spring pilgrimage.
Imagine my dismay when one of those favorites closed and suddenly those beloved plants that I don’t want to live without are as inaccessible as the surface of Jupiter.
I cried — I really did — when Michael Zuck told me last year that he and Gail were retiring and closing Everlasting Farm, a place where one could find the coolest plants. A year later, I realize that I mourned all last year, fretting over what I would do if I couldn’t feed my insane salvia addiction or if I had no towering columnar basil wafting its comforting fragrance through the vegetable rows.
It was depressing to think I might have to live my garden life without them.
I told one greenhouse owner, Kirby Ellis of Ellis’ Greenhouse and Nursery in Hudson, about the basil and a couple of other plants. I begged, cajoled and bribed with a couple of basil from the Zucks, just so he could “try it.”
Something worked, for one day this May I was surprised when greenhouse guru Mary waved me aside and asked how many of the columnar basil I wanted. I took 15.
Then I finally followed Michael’s advice and visited Forest’s Edge Garden on Main Road South in Hampden, run by Gretchen Fennelly, who used to work for the Zucks.
Let’s just say I stopped in and stayed for about 90 minutes, wandering like a kid in a candy shop, filling a cart with enough to pack the back of my car. Gretchen and I talked and exclaimed and sighed as she showed me prize after prize in her collection of goodies.
The good news is that she adores salvias — I might have squealed a bit when she said so and perhaps even declared that I loved her — and ended up buying several perennial varieties because of the glowing recommendation from their grower. But Gretchen also loves a lot of other plants, which is obvious when you take a gander at the impressive selection of perennials for sale. From eye-popping iris to unusual dianthus, the range is extensive. And there are two things that you can’t beat: The plants grow and overwinter right there in Hampden and the price of most of the items I got were between $5 and $10.
She also offers a number of fruit plants from cranberries to kiwi, awe-inspiring conifers that are showpieces in their own rights, and an array of annuals, too.
By the time I left, I had joy in my heart that another plant-loving soul had decided to open for business in Greater Bangor, calling all those kindred gardeners who are looking for truly unique additions to their yards.
It’s not just plants, however, that I get stuck on.
There’s also dirt.
I made this discovery years ago at the now-closed Corinth True Value store when I bought my first bags of Biomax Garden Mix 3 in 1.
Sure, it’s a Canadian product. But it’s from Premier, which peppers the Maine landscape with a number of potting soils and such.
I was looking for something that would save my raised beds from the arid wasteland they became on any given sunny day.
The beauty of the Biomax soil is that it combines three things you would have to purchase separately and then mix together in the proper formula to even begin to achieve results. This product does all the work for you, blending compost, peat moss and black earth.
I tried it and the mix did the trick, from raised bed to newly dug bed to established bed. I even started using it in my half whisky barrels and other containers because it worked, marvelously so.
As my track record would suggest, seemingly the only place in the state of Maine that sold it closed.
I know, because I contacted the company via email last year, sang the praises of the 3 in 1 and got a phone call back from a head honcho-type. I wasn’t home, of course, but my sister said he had a great voice and was impressed that I cared so much about the company’s dirt.
For some reason, nobody in the entire state stocks this product. But he gave me the sales representative’s name and number and said I could get a pallet of it if I wanted. I took the plunge and called the guy, stunning him with the revelation that I would buy a pallet if I had to.
Then I remembered that Don, the man who fed my Biomax addiction in Corinth, worked now at Hermon True Value. One phone call later and Don ordered the pallet for me. I picked up 20 bags of the Biomax Garden Mix 3 in 1 last weekend, which means I have enough to last me for a while and there’s plenty left if you’ve got a raised bed in dire need of assistance.
There’s a lesson to be learned from all this angst: Ask and ye shall receive.
Even if it makes you sound like a crazy plant person.
• For more about Forest’s Edge Garden, visit www.forestsedgegarden.com. Located at 296 Main Road South in Hampden, the greenhouse is open through August. Or see them at the Blue Hill Farmer’s Market from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturdays this summer.
• Hermon True Value is located on Route 2 in Hermon.