Oh, the sacrifices I make for my readers.
Convinced the husband to take me to see the rabbits1 yesterday, in the hopes of getting interesting pictures of some kind from one of the garden centers there, to use as blog fodder. He had business at Lowe's besides, so the Cymbidium picture above was actually taken in the Coralville Lowe's, but it was the same trip so it still counts.
And I am here to report: everybody in the world has Schlumbergeras now. Also poinsettias. Prices vary enormously, though colors, strangely, do not. Poinsettias are pretty much restricted to red and pink; Schlumbergeras you can get in white, hot pink, and red, and if you're lucky enough to be in the right store, salmon. It seems like there were more choices, for both plants, this time last year. Am I wrong?
Also, most of the non-box store businesses are running sales now. That doesn't matter as much as you'd think it would, though.
Store A has 50% off houseplants and orchids, which might make their (ordinarily insane) prices borderline reasonable, though they were incredibly disappointing, for the second visit in a row. I went in hoping to see that they still had a variegated Agave I'd been interested in but declined to buy the first time (sadly, they didn't have it anymore).
Then there's the price tags thing. About 2/3 of the plants there aren't priced at all. No tags, no stickers, no signs, nothing. Sure, I could take the plant up to the front counter and ask the employees how much it is, over and over, for each plant I find interesting, but screw that. I'm the customer; I'm not interested in doing extra work in order to buy from you. I've already come 50 miles (80 km) just to stand in your stinking greenhouse; you could meet me halfway by letting me know your prices.
At the very least they could make signs ("6-inch tropicals $22.99," e.g.), if stickering everything individually is too much work. Unlike a lot of customers, I'm willing to read signs, and I'll even seek them out, sometimes, if I have a question about stuff. But no. Not even signs.
Also, Store A, as long as I'm here, it'd also probably be a good idea not to talk to your employees about spraying for whitefly when there's a customer in the next greenhouse over, with no walls between us. 'Cause I can hear you when you speak out loud, you know, especially when you're using your authoritative, booming boss voice, and I know what whitefly is. I mean, geez, guys, I want to support independent, family-owned businesses, and I know you've had an exceptionally rough last couple years, but remembering when you have customers in the store is really simple, obvious stuff, and this isn't the first time. Last time you made me listen to an extended, one-sided cell phone conversation with a lost delivery driver. And I haaaaaate listening to other people's cell conversations. Get it together already.
Store B, on the other hand, is slicker than a slug covered in vaseline, and have all their Christmas stuff laid out all nice and neat, everything sparkly and twinkly and covered in blinking lights to within an inch of its life. If a Cedar Rapidian volcano spewed Christmas, instead of molten rock, Store B looked like it'd been caught in the pyroclastic flow. Store B wasn't discounting houseplants at all, and in fact appear to have raised their prices since I was last there, which is an interesting choice during a recession.2
They also had Christmas music on already, which, as it always does, made me want to strangle puppies. We fled immediately, leaving only a cloud of red glitter where we'd been standing.
And then there is Store C. Store C is small, compared to the others, and has about the same floorspace devoted to houseplants that Store B does, and maybe 25% of the floorspace Store A has. They also occasionally have some bug problems (mostly mealybugs), so I've learned to check the plants pretty carefully before bringing them home.
However. They're also very very cheap (ordinarily about half the price of the larger garden centers), and, more importantly, they appreciate the value of bringing in weird plants, so they're the most likely, always, to have something I don't already have, at a price I can afford. Additionally, when I visited yesterday, they were running a 30% off sale, which they seem to be doing about every second time I visit.
And no Christmas music! and very limited Christmas decor! And they've never been pushy about "do you need any help?" or given me unsolicited, condescending advice about how to take care of what I'm buying.
So I bought two plants at Store C.3 And I would do it again. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if it's even worth checking Store A anymore, when we see the rabbits. I ordinarily don't bother to check Store B (and now know not to again until January).
1 (= go to Cedar Rapids)
2 Is it okay to start calling it a depression yet? I mean seriously. We just found out yesterday that my mother-in-law was laid off from her job. My mother doesn't work, never has, and Dad told me last week that the orders at his factory are way down, compared to previous years. He's got decent seniority, so he's unlikely to be laid off, but they appear to be cutting everybody's hours back. And of course things can still get worse.
3 A 3" Haworthia NOID and a 4" Pellaea rotundifolia. I'm uneasy about the Pellaea, but I've considered buying one periodically and held off because of concerns about whether I would just be throwing my money away. This particular plant wound up costing me about $3.50, which I figure is roughly what it would have been from Lowe's, so it's a fairly small risk. We'll see. Pictures eventually, maybe.