Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bad Advice - Garden Center Edition

I checked out a new-to-me garden center recently.  The grounds were nice, the selection of plants decent, prices normal for around here.  On one of the perennial tables I saw a dark colored plant with deeply cut leaves and pinkish-white umbrel shaped flowers.  

There was no information on growing conditions or size or anything.  So I found a staff member and asked him.  Full sun (dark foliage plants usually require lots of light so no surprise there), normal watering, size about an average sized perennial.  The lack of specificity there should have warned me.  The plant was tagged and the name sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn't place it.  So I thought about it.  Where I could put it depending on the size (3 foot?  Is that average for perennials?).  Oh, and they were in small 5 inch pots so they couldn't be something really big, right?

I gave up and bought it.  Actually three of them.  I had several possible places to plant them and I figured I would check on the Internet when I got home and pick one of those spots.

I wish I had a smart phone so I could have looked it up at the time (this isn't the first time I bought a plant, got home and went Hey!  That's not what I thought I was getting!  I WANT a smart phone.  Can't justify the monthly fees.  Have been known to carry books in the car so I can look things up but not this time).  I probably wouldn't have bought the plant if I'd known what I was getting.

What was it?  Sambucus Black Lace.  For those of you who can't put a plant to that name (like me) it's an elderberry.  A shrub.  It gets to be between 6 and 8 foot tall.  

I don't think that counts as an "average size" for a perennial in anyone's garden. 


Fortunately I have a spot for these three not-going-to-stay-little guys.  The Mad Side1 of the house has a large blank area that can use a good sized plant to fill it.  I think a dark colored foliage would look extra nice here.  I had been contemplating options but now it looks like the Sambucus will go here.  I'm not too upset.  I think they'll be nice plants and the wildlife will like the fruit but I would have liked to choose the plant myself and put it in at a good time.  Did I mention that the house is being painted next month?

So I can't plant them until after the house gets painted.  For now they are in a pot where I will try to keep them going until I can get them in the ground and then I'll have to nurture them carefully through the heat of the summer.

Nope, definitely wouldn't have bought them if I'd known.  Also, not planning on going back to that garden center.  They may have gotten me to spend about $20 on plants I wouldn't have bought normally but they lost my continued business.  I am not impressed with staff that clearly doesn't know the plants they have for sale and, worse sin, won't admit to it and find someone who does know.

Here endeth the Rant.

1.  Hamlet is but mad North by Northwest.  This side of my house is West Northwest so it's not REALLY the right direction but it's a fun nickname so I'm going to play fast and loose with the quote.

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