Garden Center Onward Bound!
Even though the thought of going near a garden center or nursery during the weekend is evidence to question ones’ sanity, the temptation is near impossible to refuse. Late May is such an important time in the gardening calendar that it is hard to break from the tradition of planting annuals, perennials, trees or anything green during this time of year – wherever you may live. So off to the greenhouse, nursery or garden center we will go! Dealing with a bustling crowd juggling plants, children, and carts all the way to the check out is only one of the gardening “rites of passage”.
Once in your favourite plant-selling emporium there will be lots of tempting things to pick up. Juggling them in your arms is just too limiting. A shopping excursion that can be done without trays or carts is grounds for removal from the Plant Shoppers Anonymous group (I proclaim myself an honourary member!). Anyway, the impulse items at the entrance usually warrant bringing at least one empty flat along for the trip. The flat-bottomed style of plastic flats are the best because they can hold an odd assortment of pot sizes and cell packs that usually accumulate as a result of the shopping excursion. Cardboard flats may look substantial and are great advertising tools but they become unstapled easily and are prone to coming in contact with water thereby turning to a consistency like cooked noodles.
Once one flat is filled, it is time to scout for a cart to free up valuable arm mobility. Nursery carts come in a variety of designs. Some have two wheels and are held up with a handle in a precarious angle that threatens to dump everything off the back if it is raised too high. Others have four wheels and move forward easier, but might be difficult to turn corners because of their length. Some four-wheel carts have two shelves like bunk beds for major quantities of plants. These are excellent because they can hold six flats of annuals or three flats of annuals and two hanging baskets.
Signs and plant tags, “silent salespersons” with cultural information and prices are essential – the more the better. But, chances are that plants that have no sign indicating their price are also the ones that the cashier does not know.
Most people feel more comfortable shopping at a business that organizes their wares in a logical manner. It is human nature to find an order to things. This includes shopping for plants. Having all the shade-tolerant plants in one area makes sense. The arrival of fresh, new plants always causes a stir as people look to see if there’s something better in this newest delivery. But if they look too much like they just left the sanctuary of the greenhouse, enquire about whether they need hardening off so they don’t sunburn or collapse from too cool temperatures the first day home.
The selection of plants that a garden centre offers tells a lot about the commitment the owners have toward serious gardeners. Do they offer new plants each season or do the same annuals appear each year (ack! labeled generically such as “impatiens”)?
Have fun and remember there’s ALWAYS room for one more plant at home.
Temptation! Buy Me!