Hope I’ll soon be able to make a haul like this again, but safely.

That was the question yesterday, as local green industry owners and employees were discussing whether or not garden centers were one of the (many) essential businesses allowed to operate while New York State is “on pause.” The long list includes things like anything medical (of course), police, fire, grocery stores, banks, utilities, construction, and many other businesses, including liquor stores (I agree). You won’t find garden centers on this list, except for an agriculture/farms item. Hence the anxiety among many; it’s almost time here to start pruning roses and pick up a few flats of pansies.

There has been some clarity. According to the New York State Department of Agriculture, “Garden centers, nurseries and greenhouses that grow food crops, including fruit trees, fruiting shrubs, vegetable starts or herbs are considered essential business under the farm and agriculture category and may bring in employees to maintain these plants while remaining closed to the public.”

And this, according to a few New York state counties, but not confirmed at the state level, the work allowed is “Including care and maintenance of lawns and plants including plowing, mowing and plant care, but may not perform new installations.”  Ok, so no ponds, rain garden installations, or anything new and ornamental, just lawn care.

THIS JUST IN: New guidance indicates that almost every garden center or nursery I know of will be able to operate. And, despite the above, it does seem to allow for new installations.

Many here believe that garden centers and nurseries will at least be allowed to offer curbside pickups, which is something, but not really satisfying to those of us who have been longing to browse among plants. I have mixed feelings. I, too, long to browse among plants, but I don’t want to do it in close proximity to my fellow humans. Not at this time.

I’m also worried about our local botanical gardens annual plant sale. The facility is closed, though I assume employees are allowed to come in to take care of plants on a limited basis. The sale happens in mid-May, when I have zero confidence anything will have returned to normal and it’s invariably a madhouse. I will likely not go; I’m sure I can pick up my preorders and that will have to be enough. I also have things on order at some mail order places (actually, quite a bit). I love gardening and can’t wait to get out there, but I won’t be risking my health and the health of others. Not worth it. Curbside sounds like a good compromise.

I’m not going to the liquor store either; I don’t have to. Mine delivers.

These are strange times.