Poorly Department Rescue

tulips from the poorly department

When it comes to all living things, I’m a bit of a champion of the underdog. That applies to plants, too. That’s why I’ve almost made a hobby out of scouring what my Mum and I refer to as “the poorly department” at garden centres and plant nurseries – that shelf of sickly, leggy, rather sad-looking plants that appear to be past their best.

How can I not give them a second chance, and grab myself a bargain at the same time?

echinacea purpurea

Often all they need is minimal TLC. In fact, some of our top success stories have been via The Poorly Department. Last year, I found a reduced echinacea purpurea for a few pence. It looked a little scraggly and had already flowered. But I could see it wasn’t done yet; it just needed a bit of sprucing up, planting in the ground and some space. So we did just that, and it bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. This year, it’s already coming up and Rich, having been so impressed by its performance and the sheer volume of wildlife it attracted, has added a few more echinacea plants into the borders.

echinacea for bees

Another Poorly Department rescue I undertook this year was with these tulips below (see top image too). I don’t even know what they are, only that they looked a little sad, but had lots of unopened flowers and I had a space that needed filling.


When the flowers did open, they were spectacular, and have added some much-needed colour (and pollen) in an area of the long border that doesn’t otherwise get going until mid-summer.

mange tout

My latest rescue was brought home just a couple of days ago; I spotted these mange tout looking very sorry for themselves, hidden away on a shelf at the back of the garden centre. My plan is to have these little guys scrambling up a small obelisk in the flower borders, as I have a new gap-filling plan that involves flowering vegetables. More on that, later.

Have you had any success stories with your own Poorly Department rescues?


  1. Lovely. I too am a sucker for the poorly department. I think of myself as a plant rescue service. It is hard not to bring them all home!

    • It makes sense – they might be not at their best, but especially when it comes to perennials, they’ll always come up shiny and new again next year, yet you’ve saved so much money! And it means that all the energy put into raising that plant doesn’t go to waste. I can’t bear the thought of perfectly good plants going on the compost heap. I think I have found a new hobby 😉 Glad someone else is at it too!

  2. Looking at them, healthy, strong and muscular, they do not appear, even for a second, hailing from poorly department. Moreover colors are fabulous and attractive.

    Your hardwork has paid off and how!