Maybe that should read “Garden Centres versus Nurseries”. When I was growing up (which wasn’t that long ago) the place where one bought plants was a nursery. The place where my mother used to take us when she bought plants is still called a nursery. They also still have chooks and a playground, although the whole place is a lot fancier than it was twenty years ago. The chooks are ornamental now and their coop has a sign saying ‘Birdhouse’. I went there today with my Mum and the lad. He’s obviously been watching us when we shop for plants (and perhaps he’s had too many opportunities) because he toddled between plants looking at their tags and turning the tags around. He seemed pretty impressed with all of the trees and was most unimpressed with being put back in the stroller. Anyway, my point is that this nursery has grown over the years to sell lunch, garden furniture and outdoor sculpture and all sorts of other junk that isn’t plants or mulch. It’s what I think of when I hear the term ‘garden centre’, but this place is sticking with ‘nursery’. Yesterday (you’re seeing how our kid has learned so young about plant-buying behaviour?) I went for a walk to my local plant sellers, who have called their business Adjacent Suburb Garden Centre and they don’t sell anything other than plants, basic tools, pots, manure and mulch. They grow veggies in a corner of the carpark. They guerrilla garden the dead space between their land and the road. They inherited an ugly old fence from the site’s previous owners and (rather than building a stark new wall) they planted a grape vine on it. In short, this place is run by people who love plants, who think garden furniture takes up space where their ought to be plants. It’s what I think of as a ‘nursery’. I don’t think this is an earth shattering observation, but it niggles away at me nonetheless.
So what did we buy? Well Mum is replacing the grevillia she suspects was collatoral damage when the neighbours sprayed their garden. Yesterday I found a punnet of chives, which I’ve missed having in the garden, and I’m looking forward to snipping them into our winter soups. I also bought a purple sage. We’ve got a standard sage coloured sage already, it’s doing very well in our sandy and rocky soil with no water, and as every good gardener knows: if it works get more. I’m hoping our herb area (under the indigenous plants in the back corner) will look ornamental enough not to upset the landlord. He didn’t like our peastraw mulch last time he came, he thinks we should make it all look more ‘landscaped’.
Before it was weeds and more weeds, and it was so ugly it made me sad every time I went out to hang the washing on the line, now it’s got some quite attractive low-maintenance plants and he didn’t have to pay for it.
The other thing I bought was Bokashi grains. I figured it was worth experimenting with to see if we can get compost faster and using less space. As the weather gets colder the worm farm slows down, and the conventional compost heap does too, and then more and more of our potential growing space is used up with decomposing food scraps. Neither the worms nor the compost heap deal well with meat and dairy or citrus scraps either, and the bokashi stuff apparently does. I didn’t buy the brand name bucket that goes with it, I gather any airtight container does the job, so the experiment is costing us $15 over a few months.
Now I’m going to go and use the rest of the lad’s snooze time to plant those new things and get the bokashi bucket going.