I love to garden. I like flowers, or vegetables in containers or in beds. I even like house plants. I am far from a master gardener, but I've been gardening since I can remember. There is just something good about digging in the dirt and then watching things grow.
In our early years of marriage, we managed an apartment complex. Part of that job was planting and maintaining the flower beds every summer. This was the first time I really had my own beds, and wasn't just working on my parents or in a container. These beds were full of annuals. The beds looked good, but they cost (our boss) a pretty penny.
Years later, when we had a house of our own, I found myself broke, yet still wanting to have some flower beds. There were no beds, so I dug some out. Now how to plant them without spending any money?
A friend purchased a house that was full of overgrown perennial beds. In exchange for helping her clean them up a little, I brought home bags and bags of perennials. I didn't even know what most of them were, but planted them anyway. I added a flat of annuals too, after they were marked down. The beds looked ok that year.
The next they looked even better. I added more perennials from my friend's house. I bought a few too. Yes, perennials are expensive at the store. I didn't buy these at the store. I bought them from a garden club that was having a plant sale. The plants for sale were the thinnings from their beds. Every year the bed looked better. Every year I bought less annuals.
Now I am starting beds again. (Well actually, I only have one started.) I will be making the beds in the same way I did before; cheaply. Another way, I am able to do that here is to transplant wild flowers. (Only transplant wild flowers when the species is in abundance, and never take all of them!)
Everything in the bed so far has been free. There are mums, daffodils, wild iris, fern, and pansy, so far. The neighbor asked me the other day if I wanted some daisy. She needs to thin her bed. When I told her I love perennials, she said she had several she needed to thin. You know where they will be heading don't you?
You don't have to be an expert or spend a fortune to have pretty flower beds. To make them frugally:
Use Perennials Even if you pay full price for them, (which you really don't need to) they are more frugal in the long run. If you think you have a black thumb, perennials really are easier to grow than annuals.
Get Your Perennials Free Ask your friends. Ask your neighbors. Let people know you want to start perennials. People are more than happy to give you starts and thinnings. If they don't give them away, they usually end up in the trash.
Or Get Your Perennials Cheaper Look for Garden Club sales. These plants will be substantially less expensive than the ones at the greenhouse. You can also ask a lot of questions of the club members.
Use Annuals to Fill in and Add Color You will probably still want to use a few annuals, especially in the early years of your perennials. Use these to fill in any gaps, and to add a color that will last the season.
Transplant Wildflowers If you have access to them. Again, only if there is an abundance, and never take all the species from any spot. You probably only want to do this from your own land or where you have permission, though I did move day lillies from a ditch on lonely spot along a country road.