Twas Spring Fever that led a relatively sane man to be rummaging around deep into skinny cardboard boxes at the New Albany, Indiana Home Depot.

Although still February – the most useless of months – early signs of the seasonal disease had already appeared; the casual, but not- quite-yet-serious perusal of garden catalogs; staring out the sunroom window cursing cold and leaden skies; the growing need that something was missing in my life that only broken, dirty fingernails could cure.

A quest for birdseed loosened the emotional flood. My nearest source was a Home Depot. The pleasant surprise was one end of the store was already stacked in garden supplies, mostly rows of fragile indoor plants in full wasted bloom and, a new gardening twist, tiny jade plants painted in horrid purple and orange colors. The Revenge of the Succulents.

But as I headed toward the birdseed department, I passed a dozen cardboard boxes filled with bulbs, each wrapped in a plastic bag with paper tag, the lead skinny boxes about 40 inches high offering “Premium” ITOH intersectional peonies—herbaceous peonies crossed with their tree cousins.

In Home Depot!

I put on the brakes and doubled back. I already have maybe 30 old-school peonies, few of them happy with me or me with them. Planted too deep. Planted too shallow. Not enough sun. Too much sun. Water more. Water less.

I was ready to compost the lot of them and try…the newer kids..ITOH…intersectionals.

AND THERE THEY WERE… Home Depot cultivars of same included the pinkish-white ‘Cora Louise’ and the world- famous yellow ‘Bartzella.’

Enormous blooms. Easier to grow.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Real gardeners don’t buy ITOH peonies for $14.95 at Home Depot when they can be had for $39.95 and way up at the Overpriced Plants Are You store. Plus shipping, from nurseries in New England or the Carolinas.

Or such.

But what’s a Hoosier to do? This particular one began digging around deep into the bottom of skinny cardboard boxes fondling peony roots, seeking only the largest, all the while looking over his shoulder to see who was watching.

The Root of All Fondling.


So I dug out three peonies, two yellows and a white, all the while thinking chain stores can’t be selling these things.

Then I got home and fully realized I should have purchased more—I had broken a solemn vow to never again leave a plant department regretting not buying something else—or more of same.

I worried they would all be gone by morning; some garden nut buying all. I went back again the next day and rummaged around again in cardboard boxes, fondling peony roots.

.Plus coming across another great find, a wonderfully variegated elephant ears named ‘ Hilo Beauty.’

Bought eight of them. Two each for my big, shaded pots. Only $14.95 per plastic bag.

And while rummaging, I added some orange tiger lilies and dahlias ‘Red Empire,’ ‘Motto’ ‘Blue Bird’ and, and yes, ‘Crazy Love.’

Three trips to Home Depot in three days.

Maybe $300 total.