Scouting for Plants

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I enjoy scouting plants for my clients.  It is kind of like that “American Pickers” television show, where those two guys hunt for valuable old relics, vintage cars, and even motorcycle engines worth money today.  They know what’s worth grabbing and what is junk as they search through piles of stuff at various homes during their road-trip journeys.  Every once in a while they spot a real treasure.

Around this time of year, the fall season, finding good plants can be a little like being a ‘picker’, but not that extreme perhaps.  But the finds can run from Junk; I wouldn’t buy that plant now for anything or even take it for free if offerred, or Decent; this one with a snip here and some good loving in a new soil home will be just fine next year when it comes back in the spring; to Grab It Now; a discovery while scouting that is too good to pass up.  It is that lonely overlooked specimen in extremely good condition, not a common find, and a good deal.

The past two days, I was doing just that.  Going to several local nurseries, some wholesale suppliers, and yes, I even had to hit up a big box store to see what was left and what was usable for a client.  This client is in need of some outdoor sprucing up for their daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Sure we could use the millions of mums out there, but I like to do things a bit untraditional, surprising, and pleasing with other plant candidates – and there are methods to do this.

So on day one, I scouted, and then I sent photos to my clients of my finds.  We made agreements, and off I went on day two to get those I had spotted while anxiously hoping no one else grabbed them yet.  A funny thing happened.  As I brought my big rolling cart to the table of the limited supply of plants I planned, and was quickly putting them on the cart with other plants for my planned design combinations, a woman customer in the store spotted me.  She must have sensed my energy because she came over to ask, “How much is that plant?”  (Like I work here, not!), but I mumbled the response because I didn’t want her to take the remaining ones I needed for my clients.  (FYI, Later, a Facebook friend, told me that is what my “elbows” are for!).  Luckily, she put the plant back down and decided to walk away. (If I had worked there, I wouldn’t have let her walk way!)

As I walked into my next stop, one lonely older woman was standing by the table of plants I needed.  “Oh gosh”, I thought, “Not again!”  (And where is the staff again?  Oh, she’s at the register picking her fingers with no other customers in sight.)  The woman customer then commented these were the best “xxx” plants she has seen anywhere.  So rather than respond with my usual bubbly self, offering some advice, I just replied with a quiet “yup.”  She went on to say, I have to come back tomorrow.  I said, you better because after this weekend, I’m sure they’ll be gone. (Commission please?).  And no lie, the next lady to come in asked me the price of those mums back there – had to tell her I didn’t work here.  Did she sense my energy too?

And it is amazing what one or two days make.  One other place assured me they would not run out of a special type of pumpkin I wanted. But alas, all this rain lately caused a disease in their fields, and stuff was not looking as good as when I came in earlier.  They told me it has been kind of a bad year for pumpkins, which I don’t know about that since I’m not a pumpkin grower, but they didn’t look as nice, and there were even some fruit flies bouncing above a bin of gourds that looked amazing only two days ago.  So I grabbed, or should I say ‘picked’, the best of what was remaining in the big bin.

Fall Label

By the way, some other observations, not one person came to me in these very un-busy places except – I have to write this (sorry!), the big box stores.  I think maybe other places could tell I was on a mission and don’t have questions – but not talking to a person shopping your floor, is a missed opportunity.  And again, I hate to write this, because I know the fall year can be tricky with plant stock, but the big box store actually had some really beautiful “new” plants amongst there sometimes not so tended material — you know the junk you may see on a picker’s episode, AND, they had new nice “fall” labels with planting instructions – the label, shapped like a maple leaf.  Made me just think, “hmmm”.  I love and use reputable nurseries always in season, but in the fall, I had to use a little “picker perspective” because things are limited right now.  I’ve been reading in trade mags how these big box stores are changing “some things” about their plant product and sales behavior in regards to service.  Just saying, is all.

Ok, onto planting day – and no less, in the sun today!  Yeah, the sun is out, and I get to plant my picks.  Enjoy the sun too – guess it will last a few days here in our area of CT.  Cathy T

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