(Garden) Help Wanted
(Garden) Help Wanted By Lawn & Garden Retailer

Gay, 61
Topeka, Kan.

“Even those of us who have been gardening forever and pretty much know the ins and outs can face a problem that we have not encountered before. Many years ago, as a new gardener, I would go to my grandmother, who was the consummate gardener. Her entire backyard was a garden. I remember stepping through her gate, walking under the huge apple tree and into a world of color, scents and juicy fruits and crisp vegetables.

“My grandma Grace is gone now, so if I have a gardening problem or question, my first line of defense is one of the many gardening books that line my shelves. I suppose if that failed, I would Google my question on the Internet; these two methods can be accomplished at home in my jammies. However, to get good, solid answers and have a product I might need available and at arm’s reach, I seek out my local garden center. Skinner Garden Store employs horticulture majors from Kansas State University. These highly knowledgeable people are on staff to not only make sure the plants and trees for sale are of top quality and disease free, but to answer questions and make suggestions to help customers attain the ‘perfect garden’ for themselves. I have gone there many times for solutions.

“So while books and the Internet can be quick and helpful, nothing replaces the hands and eyes that I have at my disposal at my garden store.”

Jeanette, 52
Berwyn, Ill.

“I always have gardening questions! There are always new plants, merchandise and gizmos to check out, besides the usual questions about what are the best plants for my Zone. I use the Internet for many questions. There are many great websites. The Illinois Master Gardeners host a Plant Clinic and website (web.extension.uiuc.edu/state/hort.html) that is ready to help with all plant questions.

“Plant tags will give basic information, but they usually only pique my curiosity, and I will turn to my gardening books for more detailed answers.

“When I am at a garden center, I will sometimes start a conversation with a garden center employee or a person who is also purchasing or browsing plants. Gardeners are filled with hands-on experience and are usually very willing to help and guide others. Experienced gardeners are worth their weight in gold and have the most practical information for the very area you live in.

“Basically, I don’t have one type of assistance for my gardening questions. Sometimes information contradicts itself, and so it’s best — for me, at least — to get as much diverse information as possible and figure out what works best for my area and my garden.”

Jen, 30
Glenwood, Iowa

“I usually asked my mother or grandmother, who have the most experience gardening, for ideas on what to plant, as I moved into this area when I got married. I also look at plant tags while in the garden center for help on where to plant certain plants and flowers in my yard (full sun, part shade, etc.).

“When I am deciding on flowers for a container, I look at in-store displays to get ideas on what to put together or the pre-mixed containers they sell as a mix.”

Questions to Consider

  • Does your garden center stock gardening books and other literature for customers?
  • Do your employees have a background in horticulture? If not, do they receive training in the field?
  • Are your in-store displays set up to give customers ideas of how they can recreate the looks in their own homes?