It’s a gorgeous rainy day here at Faded Bluebirdland and my contrary nature is compelling me to garden. When the compulsion gets too much for me to handle, I jump in the car and head to one of my local nurseries. Not one of those garden centers, but a nursery because I’m looking to window shop.
I love plant shopping on rainy days because I’m usually one of two crazy people doing it. I have the greenhouses almost entirely to myself. So, I get to take my time, Google unknown plants, read tags and visit with staff….bliss! If I lived in a perfect world, this would happen on each of my trips, but alas I live in a world where several thousand people descend on greenhouses in April. And while every store these days seems to have attached garden centers, are they all alike?
How A Prejudice Is Born
Let me tell you upfront; my parents raised me in a greenhouse, not a barn. My Dad owned a Nursery as well as a farm, but since he trusted me less running around the farm, I was forced to work after school and in the summer in those greenhouses. I hated plants. Because being given the title and responsibility of the only “Weed Control Engineer” on staff almost killed my desire to garden forever.
Eventually, I got over my slight gardening animosity when I took a job that required me to design outdoor classrooms for schools. But when I married a former groundskeeper for the BBC in London, I gave in. Gardening was obviously my fate.
I guess I learned other stuff working for my dad at the nursery because my prejudice against garden centers was seeded there.
Amateur Gardeners Beware Of Garden Centers
Don’t get me wrong, home improvement stores and places like Wal-Mart are perfect for some plants like annuals, and let’s be honest gardening isn’t a cheap hobby. So, those stores can’t be beat in prices, but they have their drawbacks too.
In my experience, I find staff in those stores less than knowledgeable about….well, plants. I’m not even sure they like plants. And I’m almost positive I have plants older than some of the their garden specialists. So I’m not really surprised they can’t answer my questions. The look of panic that crosses their faces when I ask when and how to cut back is entertaining. Or which plants will grow well next to the ones at home.
But if you’re an experienced Gardner, you can find common plants easily there. And no matter where you shop, check your plants to see if it’s rootbound, been watered frequently and is healthy.
The Local Eden
My favorite Greenhouse in my hometown is my Eden. They sell a gorgeous variety of plants in colors you just can’t find in chain stores. As I walk around, I am so inspired and overwhelmed with new ideas. They have several working ponds, fountains, chandeliers, vertical walls of succulents, container gardens everywhere and an entire greenhouse of my favorite flower…..geraniums!
I can find organic products, pots, and statues. We can talk about compost and mulch and they greet me by name with my preferred Hot Chocolate. They grow a lot of their plants from seed and stand behind them. I know that I can go there to find the sympathy that I need as I grieve over a 5-year-old shrub that recently died. They get me, and I can’t put a price tag on that.
Besides, I Like Being Spoiled
My garden is important to me and lets’ face it, who wouldn’t prefer to patronize a business who agrees with you? They want my garden to be beautiful and healthy just as much as I do.
In conclusion, when I spend my money somewhere, I want to know that I’m getting a quality product as well as the years of experience and knowledge that comes with it. Going into one of my local greenhouses is like a trip into Wonderland, I never know what to expect, and there is an adventure around every gravel path. Since I can’t find that at Lowes, there’s no comparison and that is a good enough reason for me.