Friday, September 30, 2011

October - Support Your Independent Nursery Month

"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." -Henry David Thoreau 

My favorite local IGC
The end of September is a busy time of year for me what with NFL games to watch, the baseball season wrapping up, and the inevitable list of social obligations to attend to.  A lot of the "busyness" is self-inflicted so I can’t complain and still expect to receive loads of sympathy like I normally would.  But my schedule has kept me from spending anything but the bare minimum of time in the garden and, as a result, I haven’t had much to write about that would be of any interest.

However, I have had a little time to read and yesterday I visited one of the blogs I find most interesting: “The Blogging Nurseryman by Trey Pitsenberger”.  I like Trey’s blog because it gives readers an inside look at the challenges of running an Independent Garden Center (or IGC) and, as a gardener who relies on independent nurseries to satiate my desire for quality and uncommon plants, I find Trey's topics to be both insightful and useful. 

Yesterday, Trey wrote about Pam Pennick’s latest post on her blog, “Digging”.  Pam decided that she wanted to declare October “Support Your Independent Nursery Month”.  Trey acknowledges the struggles that independent garden centers are going through in the recession and his blog deals with those challenges and offers up ideas on how to compete in a market that is not very competitive (at least not in the sense that the little guys have a real chance to compete) thanks to the long advertising arms of corporations like Home Depot and Lowe’s. 

I felt compelled to comment on Trey’s blog to say that I do like to align myself with the little guy and that I fully support indepedent nurseries.  But I also admitted that I frequently give my money to larger corporations like Apple, Starbucks, and Amazon even though I recognize that I am turning my back on the "Mom and Pop" music, coffee, and book shops that need my business just as much as nurseries do.  To (attempt to) paraphrase myself, I said that I had long ago decided that I wouldn’t spend my gardening dollars at Home Depot even if I happened to already be shopping there for other products.  I don’t have a problem with Home Depot at all – they have been there for me when I needed their products, they have been helpful to me as a customer, and I certainly didn't mind collecting a dividend when I was a shareholder.  But they get enough of my money when I purchase tools, ceiling fans, and PVC pipe.  My local nurseries offer me both better quality plants and a better shopping experience so I really try to honor my commitment to support those companies that support my gardening.  The nurseries I shop at offer me a place to seek advice from people who actually care about what they sell and my success with their products.  They do things to build authentic relationships with their customers.  And they genuinely seem happy to have me as a customer which is more than I can say for many of the checkout clerks that I routinely interrupt at Home Depot when I'm ready to pay for my items.  

In that vein, I would like to join with Pam in encouraging gardeners and garden bloggers to remember their favorite independent nurseries this October - and every month.  I think about how my enjoyment of gardening would suffer if my favorite nursery were to close.  I owe it to myself to support them in any way I can.  It is a tough economy and it seems no one is immune to that reality.  But if you still have money to spend on your garden, I hope you will consider spending that money where you think it will do the most good both for you and for the company you give it to.

And while we're at it, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to give some more thought to the other places we give our money (I'm looking at you and make sure that those are places we truly want to support as well.  


  1. I heartily agree; we try to support our favorite local nurseries too. After going to visit them so many times, they almost become family; they even get to know my gardening style and keep an eye out for unusual plants for me. I have nothing against the Big Box Stores, either, but it's sure nice to go to a place 'where everybody knows my name'.

  2. I think this is a great idea. I try to support my local nursery, though not exclusively. I could probably do a little better. Good reminder!

  3. Karen and Holley - thank you both for commenting. I'm going to try to get to my favorite nursery this weekend. They are having a fall festival on Saturday that sounds like fun to me anyway.

  4. Chad, thanks for your post, links, and support for good independent nurseries that we gardeners can't imagine doing without. In tough economic times like these, we need to think more than ever about whom our gardening dollars are supporting.

  5. Pam, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for getting the word out!

  6. Thanks for the link Chad. I put this post on our Facebook page LOGON (Locally Owned Garden Centers and Nurseries) on Facebook.

  7. Thank you, Trey! I'm glad that you stopped by my blog. I have been a long-time admirer of your blog and one of these days I'm going to make the trip out to your nursery! I promise.

  8. Chad, Thanks for pointing me to Trey's blog, which I wasn't familiar with. I tend to buy garden tools and hardscape (paving stones, pea gravel) and sometimes potting soil or bags of composted manure at the big box stores, but there are a lot of local independent nurseries available near me, and I have always found them to be superior sources of plants (and of local horticultural knowledge). -Jean