Fresh Growth for 2010
Fresh Growth for 2010 By Lawn & Garden Retailer

As you continue preparations for the quickly approaching spring season, the consumer panel is doing a little growing of its own: We’re welcoming a few more gardeners this year. Here are a few quick introductions!

Amelia, 32
Marshall, Ill.

My husband and I own several businesses, so our time is at a premium. Ours is a sort of “cottage” garden with many perennials, and we do quite a bit with herbs.

During the growing seasons, we end up at the garden center about every other weekend. We rarely make it during the week because of our schedules. When we do make it, we look for clearly marked locations for the things that interest us and staff that can answer our questions or find varieties that we request. We almost always use the smaller local garden centers, as we find the large, big box types both lacking in knowledge and congested. The prices may be cheaper, but we find the experience is much worse at the more corporate garden centers.

Hilary, 26
Memphis, Tenn.

I am a first-time homeowner and a novice when it comes to knowing what to buy, where to put it, what to put it with, how to plant it, how to feed it, etc. I understand the basics of perennial and annual plants, but other than that, I’m at square one.

This past year I planted a mixture of plants; the ones I selected, I chose mostly because of their colors. I didn’t pay any attention to how big they would get or how long they would flower or bloom. Much to my surprise, given my inexperience, this season turned out to be very successful based on trial and error.

When I went to my local nursery this past spring, I had a lot of questions. But I felt very intimidated by the flocks of veteran gardeners in my midst and wasn’t sure exactly what questions to ask. I just knew I wanted my yard to look as good as theirs. I would love it if garden centers offered classes for novice gardeners or folks who are new to their gardening climate. Over the past six months, I have visted my local garden center about once a week. I think what gets me in the parking lot is the collage of bright colors from the artisan displays visible from blocks away.

Liz, 31
Aurora, Colo.

Moving from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountain region nine years ago introduced me to a lot of gardening challenges. While I still experiment with many indoor plants, I’ve focused a lot of time and energy on establishing a vegetable garden in the back and plenty of perennials in the front of the house.

In the front yard this year, I planted some serviceberry bushes, along with a lilac bush and a rose bush. Lots of my different daisies came back, and I filled in spaces with more dianthus, rosemary, lavender, sorrel and mums. I planted irises for the first time as well.

I go to garden centers almost weekly. If I’m searching for a particular plant or product, I might even try several places in one day. I never really tire of looking at anything botanical, and I’m always interested in new organic pest control products and items that help with water conservation. Right now, I’m in search of an inexpensive yet well-designed watering can for my indoor plants.

Jayme, 34
Eugene, Ore.

I didn’t become a serious gardener until we bought our house seven years ago. Over the years, my plant palette has changed from wanting exotic perennials to drought-tolerant and native plants. I now have a backyard of cold-hardy perennials and vegetables. I wouldn’t consider myself a professional, but I’m definitely an expert in my own backyard.

I arrive at nurseries knowing what I’m looking for, but I struggled to understand the plant tags in my beginning years. I’d like more information about local growing requirements, design ideas, plant combinations and more natives!

Local nurseries can do a better job at answering some really simple questions. Sometimes I just want to shop without having to track down an employee who seems to care only about watering the plants rather than help me buy the perfect garden. If garden center employees were more like fashion retail employees, I’d be broke.