Unusually Clever People

Genius Colorist At Your Service

July_20 Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, a classy outfit if there ever were one, has redesigned its website since last spring to take full advantage of the brute power of computers.  Now, whenever you click on one of its offerings to investigate it, a column pops up to the side suggesting four or five other things that bloom at the same time.  Useful. 

Here is what makes it also special: The photos of the other offerings are large, so you can actually get an inkling of how these things might look together in a garden.  There are many choices: every time I click on the ‘Nuit d’Ete’ dahlia, a different group of plants appears.  I could be wrong about this, but the choices don’t appear to be made by computer.  The color combinations and combinations of shapes suggested are invariably interesting.

This is brilliant marketing, of course.  I find myself thinking, "How could I possibly order that dark red dahlia without that apricot-colored lily?"

I have only two complaints about Brent & Becky’s current offerings: not enough tall dahlias.  These people are much too clued-in not to understand that for five months of the year, tall dahlias are total stars. 

Second, the prices of the lilies seem to have gone through the roof.   The letter in my paper catalog explains…

As you shop at the local hardware stores, grocery stores, and gas pumps, I’m sure you recognize how prices are increasing.  The cost of producing any product, whether it be wheat, trees, or flower bulbs, is more today than it was last year.  For items grown in the Netherlands, the Dollar/Euro exchange rate is also a big factor.

So even bulbs are not immune to larger economic and political forces.  Nonetheless, it stings.  I was used to paying about $45 for 25 lily bulbs.  Now, everything I really want is $100 for 25 bulbs, forcing me to retrench and order merely 10 of a variety.  Still, there are bargains.  ‘Pink Giant’ Asiatic lilies, which top seven feet in my garden (see photo above) are just $50 for 25.  If you have the soil for lilies, that is a lot of flash for relatively little money.    

Posted by on February 1, 2008 at 8:58 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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6 responses to “Genius Colorist At Your Service”

  1. eliz says:

    I’ll take another look, Michele. I automatically dismissed B&B’s companion planting ideas as mere marketing to get me to buy plants I would not ordinarily buy from them. (many of the “companions” are perennials)

    But perhaps I should not be so quick. The problem is how to blend these great matches with all the bad matches I already have?

  2. Frances says:

    B and B are wonderful to deal with also. I ordered from them last year for a birthday present for my daughter, and messed up the order. When I telephoned, they fixed everything and combined it all in one order to save me on shipping. Excellent customer service. I love seeing the ‘blooms at the same time’ picks. When you click on them, there are even more listed on that sidebar, and on and on.
    Frances at Faire Garden

  3. Michele Owens says:

    I know what you mean, Elizabeth. If only we could all start from scratch.

  4. Lisa says:

    eliz, you mean there IS such a thing as a “bad match” in a garden? Not being fettered with good taste, if I haven’t generated any bad matches, I know it certainly isn’t for lack of trying on my part :-)

    About as thoughtful as I can get is to recite the mantra: “WWCD (What Would Christo Do–Christo being the late, great Christopher Lloyd)” as I place my orders. Then I realize that he’d just have fun with it and never mind the tastefulness, I order whatever I please, untroubled by thoughts of clashings and bad matches.

    Sometimes I even “get it right”. I find bright tomato-orange to salmon looks wonderful with deep, rich blue-purple. And then one must add some shocking pink as an accent and I’m at it again…

    As for Brent and Becky’s, I did place a spring order. I also ordered begonias (tuberous and shrub) and fuchsias from Antonelli’s, Dahlias from Dan’s Dahlias, Cannas from Horn Canna Farm and will be ordering Gladiolus bulbs from Honker Flats.

  5. One hundred bucks for 25 bulbs? Good grief, that really is a lot of money. As you know I’m Dutch and I don’t pay that kind of money. Lilies/Dahlias are nowhere near as expensive as that over here. Of course there is transport costs but even then ……

    Thanks for the tip about that site, I’ll check it out. You never know where you’ll next find inspiration for the garden.

  6. Michele Owens says:

    Lisa, thanks for the tip on Dan’s Dahlias. I just placed an order there. I have to confess, even though I am crazy for dahlias, I usually buy whatever is hanging around at Lowe’s. A total miracle, what happens when you stick a dried-up $3 tuber in the ground.

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