Garden Centre Kitsch

Until recently our local garden centre has rarely been the place to put me in a good mood. It's my plant source of last resort as their quality is variable, the choice is so-so and the prices are to the max. However, it's been a much more pleasurable experience of late. Much of this is down to going there with Threadspider - shopping with a friend is always so much better plus we usually stop off for coffee and cake at some point. However, I'm also finding much of comedy value there - I have been known to burst into fits of giggles, much to the consternation of passers by. In my defence I present the following evidence:

This is what started it all back in February - dotty cup and saucer planters

We were worried about the middle option for a while until we realised they're a type of candle

I hate to think what's happened to these cats to give them that expression

A number of questions occur to me here - why do I need something to put my spectacles on? What's it got to do with Picasso? And why are they on sale at a garden centre and not our local opticians?

We went there on Thursday and managed to resist everything pictured plus most of the plants. However we did add something to our respective extensive vegetable collections. I'm happy to report we didn't buy the potato plants priced at £4.99 each (that's about 10 USD). I think that's a case of the garden centre having a laugh don't you?


  1. My local garden centre had those huge cups and saucers, I wonder if they have drainage holes? Not that I am thinking of buying one I must add! Great sense of humour Michelle. I don't think I have ever seen potato plants for sale? x

  2. It always amazes me what can be found in garden centres. Even Hillers have had the cups and saucers in!

    It is a shame that they aren't as imaginative with the plants they offer for sale.

  3. Wax tart, ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    My mum's local Hilliers did a thing last winter where could go and take your containers. They'd give you the compost, and let you use their potting bench, if you bought bulbs.

    This was brilliant, and loyalty-inducing, and really fun too. Why don't garden centres do MORE things like that, and less wax tarts?

    I have just noticed that i have potato plants growing in the weirdest places in my garden, as a result of doing a patio potato experiment last year. In the compost heap (not that surprising); in with the begonias (re-used the compost); alongside the sweet williams (hmm, can't explain that one, perhaps squirrel?).

    It's funny because actually I didn't really get how much you had to water them, so I only got about five potatoes, but now my garden has "caught" them maybe they are going to be the 21st century weed...

  4. What exactly does one do with a Picasso's nose? Is it a plant support? one of those things to stop your eyes being poked out by a bamboo cane? A conversation piece (as in "What the **** is that thing?) or maybe it is something for the picking garden.

  5. Louise - we were pretty gobsmacked by the spuds too!

    Zoe - too right, though I'm intending to do a positive article about the garden centre, strictly in the interests of balanced reporting of course!

    Emmmat - ahhh the ever present potato volunteers. Last year they were my best crop on the allotment, the pukka spuds didn't cut the mustard. We also think that punters buying these plants won't think they'll need a bigger pot and will keep them in their current snug fitting item on the patio all summer.

    James - we couldn't believe them either. What warped mind thought of them? Who thinks you need an accesory to balance your specs on anyway? What's wrong with leaving them on your head or putting them back in their case?

  6. Emmat - I forgot to add that our now defunct North West Wilts Fetival used to have a big display from the garden centre with demonstrations of how to put together a big summer pot. They'd then invited members of the audience to come up and try for themselves against the clock - a bit like 'The Generation Game'. The audience would then vote which one they thought was best - a bit like 'Ready Steady Cook'. I won!!!!! And each contestant got to keep their pot and all the plants they'd used - brilliant!

  7. I'm glad its not just me that has a laugh at all the naff stuff you have to negotiate at garden centres. I recently spotted one of those silver balls with a fluffy blue tit on top as seen on GW when Swifty was looking at garden centres - presumably these things sell or the centres wouldnt stock them. Good for a laugh though - maybe a new form of retain therapy

  8. The wax tart definitely made my day. LOL! What amazes me in our garden centers is the incompetent personnel at a large scale. I even get the feeling these people genuinely hate their jobs, never mind the fact that they are rarely interested in plants as such, and helpful is the word they didn't hear since kindergarten age, if ever. And all that in our biggest nursery which is truly amazing considering the offer and the quality of items, if you forget the fact that cashiers often mistake Potentillas for Dandelions and can't print out your receipt until they find out the Dandelions price code. Bloody hell!

    I'm glad your lovely vocal activities continue with yet another choir. Good luck with all the future performances.

  9. I went back to check on something and found your comment on my Digby and so trying to decide which of your blogs to come into first, of course I chose the Veg Plotting! Loved this post, and can't believe how much the sweet pottery containers can cost...I want one of the huge teacups, too...they have them at Wal_Mart but will have to wait till I go on my own since Mac (hubby)will growl! He grows all our veggies from seed and so far we have tomatoes, three kinds of squash, okra watermelon, cantaloup cucumbers and beans on a teepee (I learned how to do that from our neighbor when we lived in Beaconsfield (Bucks), and it's been a life saver for space since I love lots of beans to can and freeze! Loved this post...going back now to check out your other blog

  10. It's very nosy of me but I'd love to know about your project in Mallorca?

  11. My local Garden Centre (whilst no doubt overflowing with Picasso's noses and other useful tat) had run out of gro-bags today!!! Unbelievable!

  12. Hi VP. £4.99 for a potato plant? Not so much pomme de terre as pomme de rip-off.


  13. VP .... how much do i have to bribe you with to pick up one of those terra cotta catplanters for me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I had a ball reading this post and seeing what you guys saw .. TOO CUTE for words .. and now I am lusting after "some" of them ? LOL

  14. LOL! I actually like the noses & the cup & saucer (the more garish the pattern the better). But then I've always wanted to do a surreal theme in part of the garden. If I had the money & the space, I'd garden like Rene Magritte. Or maybe Salvator Dali. Of course I have been known to put pink flamingos in my garden solely to be obnoxious (too bad they got broken).

  15. We've certainly had our share of smiles at their expense this year so far!! (I still do rather hanker after one of those spotty cups and saucers.....) : )

  16. Helen - I didn't use to giggle, but now I do every time we go there!

    Violtje - hello stranger and welcome! Yes, I wish they had more knowledge too - it's exasperating isn't it?

    Sandi - Welcome! I think we all sneakily like those teacups really!

    Suburbia - I'll post about it I promise.

    Arabella Sock - welcome! Strange how they don't have much of the useful stuff, but are overflowing with the rubbisj isn't it?

    Simon - too right!

    Joy - I knew those cat planters would be right up your street ;)

    MMD - you would have loved the Westonbirt garden festival a few years ago. It was very avant garde!

    Threadspider - we were discussing them at SUP on Sunday and decided a line of them down a stairway with a giant teapot at the top would be just the job!

  17. 99p for a wax tart? Oh my. What an eccentric collection of products. I've seen similar planters and candles here in the U.S., but I don't think the noses have made it here. Yet.

  18. Hi Nan - probably only a matter of time though!


Your essential reads

Jack Go To Bed At Noon

That blue flower: A spring spotter's guide

Salad Days: Mastering Lettuce

Testing Times: Tomatoes

Salad Days: Salads for Damp Places

Chelsea Fringe 2014: Shows of Hands - Episode I

The Resilient Garden

VPs VIPs: Derry Watkins of Special Plants

#mygardenrightnow: heading into summer with the Chelsea Fringe

Things in unusual places #26: Rubber Ducks