Last Sunday, we stopped at a local market to pick up vegetables for dinner. It was a rainy warmish day, with temps in the mid-to-high 50s.

As we were entering the store, I noticed some beautiful hanging baskets just outside the doors. There were mainly pansies and petunias, including some unusual duo-colored double petunia varieties. (I am a sucker for these.) There were also some small containers of impatiens.

I remarked to a staffer inside the store that it was a bit early to have petunias outdoors. She laughed, and remarked on the balmy temps. It was clearly no use continuing the conversation; I could see that she thought – perhaps with justification – that was just being a cranky customer.

As I write this two days later, the morning temp is 39 degrees with a 43 daytime high expected.

I wonder where those petunias are now. 

I also wonder who bought those hanging baskets and installed them outside on their porches or patios, fully expecting them to keep providing color for the rest of the season. 

Except that the season hasn’t really begun here – certainly not the season of planting annuals outdoors. Indeed, I don’t even like planting perennials at this time; the cold soil and early morning frosts are not welcoming to these plants so early in their pampered lives.

People get starved for living brightness. They want spring to fulfill its deceptive promise. I can’t blame them for buying these baskets.  

I do blame the store for offering plants that may very well die within days of purchase. Someone should have known better.

Spring can get crazy here in the Northeast/upper Midwest. We had some 80-degree days in mid-April, but now the weather is back to its seasonable rainy chilliness. I would not dream of planting or hanging any annuals outside until at least May 20. I often wait a bit longer than that. My mail order annuals (some shown at top) always come too soon; I am hoping I can keep them going long enough.

Thank goodness for pansies, as tough as they are adorable.

No store, especially one that does not specialize in plants, should be offering annuals that are native to equatorial latitudes at this time of year in Buffalo. Even so,  some area nurseries that do know better have sold mixed containers that aren’t weather-appropriate. I’ve seen the complaints and sad pictures on social media.

All I can hope is that these businesses receive enough bitter complaints that they put a little more thought into their offerings next spring.