Prominently displayed at Home Depot – pesticides, not plants.

In Saratoga Springs, gardening forms no part of the local fantasy, which revolves around very expensive horse-flesh and some Gatbsy-eqsue vision of highly exclusive summer parties enjoyed in linen suits, silk dresses and large hats.   This fantasy is not mine, but I wouldn’t object to it, if only it hadn’t driven away all the damned nurseries.

So I’m always in Lowe’s and Home Depot, where you can admittedly find fantastic bargains.  Two years ago, I bought five gorgeous tardiva hydrangea standards at Lowe’s for $35 each, when everybody else was selling them for $100. 

But I really have to walk a mental obstacle course in order to come out of these places intact.  It’s all so depressing …

  1. The plants allowed to wilt. 
  2. The plants organized on no principle whatever.
  3. The weird selection.
  4. The total lack of pride in the entire set-up.
  5. The employees with no information about anything at all. 
  6. The gardening equipment never out on the shelves where it’s supposed to be, but always identifiable in boxes hanging from the ceiling. 
  7. Boxes that you can’t reach–but that presumably some employee could, if only there were an employee to be found anywhere. 
  8. Or if only the employee you did spy were willing to catch your eye. 
  9. Or if only the employee summoned by telephone after you’ve managed to get the attention of the one cashier lackadaisically ringing up the many dozens of gardeners hoping pathetically to buy a pansy or two actually showed up.

These are supposed to be big, successful businesses?  Led by theoretically great managers who once ran the Jack Welch gantlet at GE?

Hey, Bob Nardelli!  It’s spring, for Christ’s sake!  I don’t care what the spreadsheet says.  The gardeners are out!  Staff these places, would you?  And try to find somebody who actually likes plants.  Or people.  One or the other would do.

Here is the one common thread in all my big-box shopping experiences:  I go in with my credit cards thrumming in my wallet, absolutely itching for plants.  And I come out with only a tiny fraction of what I intended to get.   

The local Lowe’s could hire a horticulturalist full-time on the difference between what I want to spend there–and what I actually do spend there.