Summer bedding plants may brighten the aisles in garden centres, but it’s misleading to sell them in winter. A tiny bit of frost and they’ll die – a waste of time and money – and enough to put people off gardening altogether.
I saw something the other day at my local garden centre that shocked me to the core.
And it turns out I’m not alone – my colleague Steve was similarly shaken at a nursery in Surrey, and the garden designer Philippa Pearson tweeted in horror about a similar sighting a few days ago.
Summer bedding plants – yes, that’s right, summer bedding plants – were on sale. At the beginning of February. For anyone who doesn’t know, these plants can’t survive the tiniest bit of frost, let alone the sub-zero temperatures we’re experiencing at the moment.
Garden centres mis-selling plants
Now, nobody is looking forward to summer more than me. I’m excited to see summer clothes in the shops, even though I’m still trying to track down a decent parka.
And of course as a gardener I like to chivvy nature along, cosseting plants under fleece and glass so that I can enjoy their fruit or flowers that little bit earlier. But I can’t help thinking that selling summer plants in winter is doing no one any favours.
Mary Portas had a pop at garden centres recently, ticking them off for displaying merchandise inappropriately and not educating their customers about what to buy. I’m sure she’d be disappointed to see that these garden centres are doing exactly that.
Let’s stick to the seasons
It worries me that novice gardeners will buy these plants and put them in the garden, see them die, and give up on gardening altogether. There are plenty of plants available now that will give us a splash of instant colour, so summer bedding is just going to have to wait.
Gardening is all about living in tune with the seasons, and appreciating the fleeting joy of a plant in flower. No one should aspire to fast forwarding nature.