How many times have you entered a nursery center with looking as your only goal, but leaving with handfuls of plants? The worst case is at the end of the planting season when everything is marked down to pennies. How could you not purchase a few more goodies for the garden? I fall into this category often, but I do follow a few personal rules.
1. Try to buy at least three (or more) of one plant. Though you may not have a destination in mind yet, at least there will be a nice grouping for the final design (and it will look like you planned it).
2. Try something new. If you're only paying 99 cents, why not try a new plant? If it doesn't do well, no biggie. My garden is filled with sale (and even free) plants that no one else wanted or recognized. I now have some amazing plants that I would have never dreamed up on my own.
3. Is there a season you're lacking great color? Late summer or fall perhaps? Try to find plants that fill those gaps. Don't let the lack of bloom in the nursery distract you - just because it's not blooming at that moment, doesn't mean it's not fabulous. Read the tags and grab the beauties others missed.
4. Pick up those small, special plants (less than 12" tall). These itty bitty plants are perfect for the front of your border or tucked in small spaces. Buy as many as you can. It's so much fun spreading these out along the front of a planting bed to pull it all together (what? a sale item creating a a cohesive design?).
What other hints do you have?