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Are plants more expensive than they were 30 years ago?


Plants are more available than they were 30 years ago but how have prices changed in terms of inflation over that period. This blog was inspired by Spitzhenry asking how much we would expect to pay for a plant at NGS Open Garden Days.
This is the label off the first tree I ever bought. It is an Amelanchier Canadensis. She has just bought one to replace a hebe which has gone out of control. This is still flourishing in my garden and is only about 8’ high. I think it dates from around 1982.
I was very new to gardening and having to design a garden was something I had never imagined I would do. I pored over books looking at plant sizes, shapes, colours, seasons of interest, etc. and then toddled off to see Dougal Philip at Hopetoun Garden Centre. On this occasion I was after a rowan tree but not wholly convinced that it was exactly what I wanted. I shared my anxiety with him and he suggested this tree. He said it was being used by many local authority parks departments at that time because it was of interest over many months and guaranteed not to need any drastic or regular pruning. I’m so glad I took his advice and pleased to see that the tree is still being recommended for domestic garden use. I wonder if the price today reflects the inflation over the period since then. Is it cheaper today or more expensive? You will have to work that out for yourselves.

This Buddleia Alternifolia was planted around the same time and is now over 7’ high The flowers grow along the stems creating a waterfall effect.!

Seeds have seen a large jump in price. The first packet shows seeds sown in 2004/5. They self seed so I am still benefitting from the 99p I spent on them then. They are getting a bit straggly so I have decided to sow a fresh batch.

Note the price hike, but is it really fair to complain when you can produce 400 plants from one packet of seeds.

I sowed these on top of one of my compost bins on 4thJuly and the were through the ground by yesterday. They are already 1/2 " (1.25cm) high. I will be able to plant out in September. They are biennials but may be HHP in some gardens. They will flower next year.!

I hope you enjoyed my look at the past and if you have similar stories or just opinions then please do respond.


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depends were you shop :o)

but I think they have got more expensive purely due to the increase in the cost of living.
I remember Mars bars at 3d...........

12 Jul, 2011


And a pound of mince at 4.6p (about 25p ?)!

12 Jul, 2011


once again a brilliant blog Scotsgran!
i have mixed feelings about things...
as i dont drive i get most of my seeds from the 99p shop.
my onions/ spring onion, leeks, beetroot, basil, cauliflour, cabbage, aubergines, parsnip all came from there.
Nanna sent me the seeds for the Frachini carrots and broad beans which have done well and i've just planted up the dwarf french beans she gave me so i'll see how they go.
Ma starts off my tomatoes and chillie peppers/ peppers so they generally produce a good crop as she has better conditions to start them off in.
she has also donated to me a lot of treats from her garden this year in the form of hosta's and iris, lady's sliper and a few things i'm not sure on, they all seem to be doing well in their new homes on the front bed.
then yesterday i got £12 worth of Dainthus (silly me thinking they were carnations because of the leaf's! yes i still have a lot to learn! lol) for £4.50 from homebase!
the first flowers i've grown this year from seed have come from a mix of what mum gave me and what came from the 99p shop.
the best tree i've grown was a bayleaf tree i got from a friend of my mum's, it was pot bound when i got it but i put it in the garden and it came on strong, shame tho because i had to move and couldn't take it with me :(
then again the other day i started a shopping list on here for a few things, done some research and got what i tought was the best price for things only for the garden centre to add a £6.50 delivery charge to a £16 order!
like i said very mixed about these things, sorry for such a long explination!

12 Jul, 2011


Thank you for your answers everybody. When we got married in 1963 we had spent 6 months doing up a cottage and we used to take along some cheese, ****tomato soup at 1/- (10p) a tin and a crusty loaf from the baker at 1/2 (6p).
It is interesting how our shopping habits have changed too Claire. I went to the garden centre on my bike because I could not drive and apart from Woolworths there were no bargain shops around. Interestingly both you and I - 50 years apart shopped local. Woolies did not sell plants at that time.
I think maybe we only think it is too expensive or worth the money because we either can do without it or want it so much we will part with the cash.

12 Jul, 2011


I do miss Woolworths, they certainly had bargains. Just before they closed I bought a white poplar for £1.99. I didn't think it would survive the journey home let alone grow - now it's about 12' tall. I'm much more likely to think of plants as bargains than clothes, because the former give me much more pleasure.

12 Jul, 2011


I've noticed this year plants seem to be very expensive. In one place they were charging over £2 for an annual basket trailer. I left it there - far too much for something that's only going to die off soon.

13 Jul, 2011


How true Ginellie. Woolworths closed a huge store in an out of town retail park near us years ago and I bought lots of bargain plants then which still flourish. I too am much more likely to buy a plant in a sale than clothes. I tend to buy and then find somewhere it can go although I still have a wish list of plants I would love to have.
Yes Hywel I have noticed how basket annuals in particular have shot up in price. This year I stuck to begonia sempervirens and lobelia and although they do not have the interest of baskets, pots etc with lots of different trailing plants they do provide a splash of colour at a fraction of the price. As I have a limited amount of time available to look after them I know these will survive the odd bit of neglect. I am starting to plant baskets and pots with sedums etc which do not need to be changed every year.

13 Jul, 2011


Coming to this rather late (so much good stuff on GoY), but in one of my other lives I do a bit on comparative prices along the lines of a 19th century labourer earning 6d and giving that as a modern equivalent. There is a website that works all these out using what must be a huge database of inflation rates and other economic info and it gave me a value of £9.70 for that £3.35 Amelanchier from 1982. It's not an exact science and the most up-to-date value is for 2011 - but it puts things into some sort of perspective. Would you get an Amelanchier for a tenner today?

What amused me was the difference in price between the Suttons seeds and T&M - did you get twice as many plants from the T&M packet?

4 Oct, 2013


How lovely to revisit this blog Urbanite. Thank you for reading it and leaving a comment. To be truthful I had forgotten all about it. Interesting to see that plants were cheaper by comparison. I think maybe a vendor must have read my blog and decided we were getting too much of a bargain. I expect the price would be a lot more now than when I bought it but would that make it more or less than the comparative price then. I checked the number of seeds in the original packet of wallflower was 350 for 99p. I got 400 seeds for £2.19 in the later packet. I can not remember how many plants I got from each packet. Suffice to say there was plenty to share with friends on both occasions.

4 Oct, 2013

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