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Local Plant Shopping

Report From An Opinionated Gardener – August 4

It’s just a small rant, really. Think of this as a word in your ear, especially for those who haven’t thought about how your plant shopping habits might be important. Maybe this post has been triggered by hearing that the stock market has plunged, and the resulting feeling of powerlessness that this causes. Such situations always bring me back to the areas where I do have influence, and one of these is in my shopping habits.

One of the things we can all do is to shop in stores that are owned locally. When it comes to plant purchases, this opinionated gardener urges you to make a point to go to your independent garden center rather than picking up those plants at box stores and supermarkets.

A few reasons to shop at your local, independent garden center are:

  1. Most of the employees know and care about plants. Many of them are in the business because they love horticulture.
  2. Gardens and landscapes are what these businesses are all about. Most don’t sell air conditioner filters, lumber, or floor wax. They are focused on helping you to create beautiful gardens and landscapes.
  3. The selection is usually better at the independent garden center. You’ll find a broad selection of plants for many situations.
  4. The stock is better cared for at the independent garden center. How many times have you seen those pots of wilted plants at the entrance to the groceries and chain stores? Yup, me too…and know that every time those plants wilt they get weaker and more stressed.
  5. The owners of the independent garden centers are your neighbors. Their kids go to the same schools, play on the same sports teams, or appear in the same school drama productions. They live, shop, golf and garden right next to you. Doesn’t it just feel better to support them?
  6. When you really need the answer to a puzzling landscape situation, you go into the garden center. Admit it: you even call them to ask how to care for something you’ve purchased at a box store, right? Perhaps it’s more ethical, or just downright nicer, to buy the plants from the people you trust to give you the best information.

What does this spiral display from the Chicago Flower Show have to do with this post? Admittedly, not much. I just like it, graphically. Maybe I'm drawn to it because the proportion of green far exceeds the small touches of orange... the latter color associated with chain stores. Or maybe I was thinking, "What goes around comes around." Or perhaps the photo just caught my eye. Make of it what you will.


6 comments to Local Plant Shopping

  • I concur. Buy local, especially independent garden centers.

  • You got it C.L.: Local is the best, support your neighbors.

    Have a great day,

  • Stephanie Simpson

    I agree 100%…When I lived on the Cape, I bought only from Crocker Nurseries and Country Gardens in Hyannis…In Maryland, I buy from Homestead Gardens in the Annapolis area, Garden Treasures in Easton, Lowes Bayside in Stevensville and East Ridge Gardens in Centreville.

  • judy

    Thank you for this post. So many of the great independent garden centers I used to travel to in MA are gone due to “the big box stores”. The loss of independents means the loss of variety and niche as well. I must say I lament the days of independent growers as well. I understand progress and the cost of tissue cultivation but it is unfortunate that you see the same “pots” in the grocery stores, the big box stores and the independents. I guess I’m just a fossil…just means I’ll have to start a few more things from seed!

  • Lynn

    Thanks, C.L.! I think our customers think, “Well I’ll just shop at the box stores now, until the economy recovers and money is not so tight, and then I’ll go back to my locally owned garden center or nursery.” What they don’t realize, I think, is that many of us won’t survive without their support NOW. Then they won’t have any choice BUT to shop the box store.

  • Erica

    The same applies to seeds from local nurseries. Yields are far superior, so you’re not saving money when you buy cheap seeds from chain stores.