Saturday, 20 April 2013

the plant centre springs into life

There was a frost this morning, but a very light one.  When I went to let the chickens into their run I saw the ice on the car windscreen and thought that I must remember to switch it on to defrost five minutes before I wanted to leave for work.  When I went out to start the car, the morning sun had already melted the ice on the front windscreen.

At work I discovered the pea hens sitting happily in the middle of the herbs.  I shooed them off. Later in the day I caught them eating the leaves of some rhubarb plants that were waiting on a red trolley to be put out for sale.  I thought that rhubarb leaves contained oxalic acid and were toxic. Not to pea fowl, obviously, or else the pea hens are too stupid to realise.  They never give the impression of being the brightest birds.

There were some nice plants on the red trolleys, and I put aside a Geranium clarkei 'Kashmir White' for myself.  I probably ought to plant in groups of at least three, given the size of the garden, but am indulging myself in adding odd specimens of the less rampant hardy geraniums when I fall for them, and I fell heavily for 'Kashmir White' last year, only we had sold out before I got round to buying one.  It has fairly large flowers, as geraniums go, which are white but delicately veined with lilac.  I see on the Beth Chatto website that it comes originally from Nepal.  If it likes me I can always get some more later.

We were very busy, so much so that I thought there had to be a definite element of catch-up, as people who were finally able to get into their gardens bought some of the things they would have bought at Easter, if it hadn't been snowing.  Thank goodness for that.  However much we told ourselves that the slack start to the year was down to the truly appalling weather, the nagging doubt remained that maybe it was down to the squeeze on consumer incomes, or gardening having fallen out of fashion (to be replaced by baking, perhaps), and that trade wouldn't recover even when the weather did.

Most of the customers were sensible and nice.  It's just as well that the majority of them were able and willing to locate their plants for themselves, since with three of us on duty, plus the owner for parts of the day, but also the tea room to contend with, there was no way we could help all of them fill their trolleys.  If things had got any busier I suppose I would have had to explain the principles of the plant centre layout to a couple of them, and leave them to get on with it, instead of patiently walking them around the lines of shrubs and herbaceous plants with their lists.  If a customer is sparky and enthusiastic then it is quite fun acting as their personal shopper, but the utterly passive ones who evince no interest at all in understanding where anything might be do leave me wishing they would show a bit of gumption.  It isn't so hard to grasp that when we are standing surrounded by tables covered in herbaceous plants, we might finish finding the herbaceous plants on the list before going to look for rose 'Darcey Bussell'.

I didn't manage to finish offloading the red trolleys, though I did seem to manage to spend a lot of the day outdoors, instead of being stuck on the till.  Which is fair enough, swings and roundabouts and luck of the draw.  I've been on the till most of the day often enough.  It was very beautiful outside, the sky a clear blue, the daffodils around the car park bursting into bloom, the birds singing.  Much nicer than being in an office.  I think there'll be a fair bit of watering to do in the morning.

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