On one of my favorite wine discussion sites, Wine Therapy, a very funny poster does a regular feature called “Boatloads of Cheap Crap.” If I check nothing else on this site, I check his posts because he invariably lists all kinds of fantastic wine bargains (not crap at all), many from obscure grapes and producers.
In the gardening world, it’s not so easy to find such a resource. Oh sure, you can get plants and bulbs for almost nothing through exchanges, cuttings, and inexpensive retailers. It’s the other stuff I’m talking about. The hardware. The $40 “cache” pots. The $300 sconces for the front stoop. The $2000 outdoor teak armoires. For the love of god, the $200 “rain chain.” I don’t even know what that does.
The good news is that very few of us actually need any of this, um, stuff. But some of it we do need. I suppose I can choke down $40 for a pair of pruners, but I’d love to be told that the big box cheapies work just as well.
And, speaking of Home Depot, I must say that it can be an invaluable resource in this area. There are very few retailers who sell gardening equipment and accoutrements for under-inflated prices. (Pots can be utterly ridiculous. Why would a lightweight pot made out of some weird synthetic amalgram pretending to be ceramic cost ten times as much as a ceramic one?) The big boxes seem to have a much more affordable selection than the nurseries and the pots are often just as attractive. In addition, I often turn to the supermarket, which, at odd times, has great deals on oversized pots—the ones I generally use for all my container gardening. And since I fully intend that any pot I buy will be engulfed in flowers and foliage, what it looks like is not that big a deal—though I can’t buy plastic any more.
Many of the items I see in catalogs do exercise a certain lure. Oooh, look at the scrollwork on this window box, made exclusively for XXXX and a steal at $189! Or how about this exquisite terrarium? It’s 20% off, and only $191! To be fair, I am sure that most of this, er, stuff, would last a good long while. And to continue being fair, the local nurseries, however reasonable their plants may be, gouge almost as much as the catalogs for this sort of thing.
When I look at the retail scene for garden accessories, I have to conclude that we’re getting reamed. Where are the boatloads of really cool cheap gardening crap?