Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gardening is so Boring (Rant)

This is so - so - so boring. And no wonder.

I've been spoiled over the years with having my own nursery of unusual plants. I would grow between 600-800 varieties of annuals every year (and all the newest introductions) as well as over 1500 varieties of perennials. When I worked for another nursery in the past few years, it had approximately 1500 of the latest and best perennials being introduced.

Now I shop locally for my plants. Boring.

Let's start at the big box stores. They almost always have the same predictable boring plants. In the same predicable boring colours. No wonder every house in the burbs looks the same. Boring.

Here's my take on the local box stores.

Chain stores don't know how to water. Mind you, many garden centres have this problem. Watering takes time. Time is a cost. So if you water the plants - you incur a business cost. Watering is a cost. If you don't water - you don't incur a cost. Or if you water fast - you incur less of a cost. Anybody who has gone to a box store and not found a bevy of wilted plants is either not paying attention, has gone right after the plants have been unloaded or is outdoors after three days of pelting rain.

The best. Home Depot. They had the widest selection, the neatest aisles and the best looking plants. A few of the newer plants including the 'Kong' coleus and 'Sunshine' impatiens - not much else though. Mind you, I caught them after a new shipment had rolled in and most of the plants were still fresh off the truck. Not able to answer basic questions properly about fertilizing and rose care. And the selection is still limited to the most popular.

Second best: Rona (Canadian equivalent of Home Depot) Good presentation, good quick service. Plants uninspiring. Plant maintenance barely acceptable.

Almost tied for worst - Walmart. Plants not tagged, never heard of watering, poor selection of uninspiring plants. Carts of plants blocking aisles and other plants. Indicted with my partner (a serious non-gardener) saying that she "knows all the plants at Walmart". What could be worse?

The worst. Canadian Tire was messy with tons of dead and dying plants (particularly those poor tuberous begonia baskets on sale by the door). I hate dead plants and hoses in the aisles. Selection not overly great. Maintenance very poor - whoever does the watering needs to learn which end of the hose the water comes out of.

There's a place for these chain store garden shops but man, it isn't in my garden.

I did however pick up two good looking shrubs at Green Things (a small garden centre) in Brockville (automatic watering systems installed and spot watering to keep things alive and healthy). The prices were slightly higher but the plants were healthy and strong. (I took cuttings off them this morning to increase the numbers I plant in my garden - that's how good they were).

(End of rant)


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