Shopping At The Garden Center

Okay, now that we have established that when you shop, go to the garden center, what should you be looking for once you get there?

It can be a bit overwhelming–in a really positive way–to be in a garden center in the spring. There are often acres of trees, shrubs, vegetables and beautiful flowers to look at–and never mind the fountains and wind chimes and statuary and all the other things that go int the garden! Of course you want it all! You’re supposed to!

And in most places, even places without really cold and snowy seasons, you have just come out of “winter.” Even in places where it doesn’t snow, “winter” is a time where plants are in a dormant state because of lower light levels. So once that passes, plants get revved up and it’s time to grow!

So now that you have exited the car and your sense are assaulted by glorious colors, often wonderful fragrance and happy sounds, what to do you?

Well, ideally you have come with a list. It’s not going to control all the madness of this happy place but it should keep you focused on your task at hand. Why are you there today? Is it for some new perennials? Are you replacing a dying tree? Or adding a tree or some shrubs? Maybe it’s time to get the vegetable garden started. Or perhaps you just need to fill a few containers. Or are you buying a gift plant?

Once you answer that question, there is going to be lots of signage to direct you. That doesn’t mean you can’t look, shop touch and even ask questions along the way.

When I worked at the garden center, lots of people came one or more times to explore before they purchased. We encouraged that. Especially if you are planting something major like a tree–or even a new garden–you’ll want to get that as right as you can the first time. Take your time.

And that’s another important point: if you are planting an entirely new garden, don’t expect to do that in a Saturday afternoon or you will be very bored with it in upcoming years. If you buy all your plants in one afternoon–I mean perennials–they will all pretty much bloom at the same time. And then you will be looking at leaves for the rest of the season.

So many folks would come in early in the season and say “I just have today and I want to get this done” as if planting a garden were something like spring cleaning that could be checked off and “finished.”  I am not sure what they thought would happen once the garden was planted–who would weed it, or water the plants or divide them as needed in upcoming years.

But isn’t that a sad commentary on some of our mentalities when gardening is something that we need to “get done!”

Anyway, if this is your plan, I would suggest that you re-think it. Plant a lawn or put in a pool or better yet a patio–something that needs less maintenance than a garden. Because gardens are not about “getting done.”

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