Cheap Sam’s


YESTERDAY I FINALLY GOT THERE: Cheap Sam’s Plant Bargains in Holtsville, N.Y., right off the Long Island Expressway at Exit 62. It’s an hour-and-a-half from East Hampton, but everyone around here seems to know it: “Oh, sure, Cheap Sam’s. Of course.” So I had to go.

I still don’t have deer fencing, but now I’m thinking a new bathroom might be the priority. I can’t stand the ’70s Formica vanity and vinyl floor much longer. I also found out I need a new roof.

So I’m toying with the idea of letting the deer have one more winter of ravaging my backyard. The night before my Cheap Sam’s expedition, I studied up on deer-resistant plants that also tolerate shade. Yes, I just had several humongous trees cut down, but I’m still in the woods. The sunlight is dappled at best.

The list of suitable shrubs is depressingly short.

When I got to Cheap Sam’s, a sprawling nursery that does indeed seem cheap, I found them fresh out of mountain laurel and fothergilla. I had to content myself with three leucothoe (common name leucothoe, and don’t ask me how to pronounce it) and five pieris (that is, andromeda — floribunda, japonica, and a variegated type). I actually got kind of excited when I saw all the varieties, thinking I might just become a specialist in leucothoe and pieris.

They’re of good size and seem healthy. For $20 each, I can’t complain.

As if to remind me why I restricted my purchases to those few plants, a family of five deer was on hand to greet me when I got home.