There's nothing like buying a plant to put you in
the mood for a spot of
gardening, is there? I'm fond of those plant stalls that you find at
and car boot sales because you never know what you might come across and
plants are usually quite cheap.
In the past I've sold plants at car boot sales myself, five or six pounds
a pitch, forty or fifty plants – maybe more – neatly labeled in smart
flask of coffee and a tasty sandwich, then 'Bob's your Uncle', simply
the cash roll in, or that's the theory anyway, though in reality it
always work like that, not if there's inclement weather to keep the plant
buying public at bay, or an alternative attraction elsewhere (an
international football match on the television perhaps). If so, you might
lucky to cover your costs. I find it's best to treat these things as a
event myself, an opportunity for a good blether with old friends –
blether, blether – and a chance to catch up on the local gossip.
If you intend to sell plants yourself on a regular basis of course, then
there are some pitfalls to be aware of.
"You sold me a Geum last time," one man bellowed at me across
"only it was an Oriental Poppy!"
Easy mistake to make. Best apologize when this happens, smile pleasantly,
defer to the customer's expert opinion (he was probably right anyway),
a replacement, chat pleasantly about the weather, go for the 'distraction'
"And what about the Lupin that should have been red, it was lime
"Well obviously a mutation, obviously, obviously, very rare indeed." This
said with a smile. "Weren't you the lucky one?"
And then of course there was the woman who wanted worms.
"Do you sell worms?" she enquired.
"Worms for the garden?"
Do people really buy worms? Was she serious?
"No, sorry, don't do worms."
I enjoy a good browse around the plant stalls myself, always on the look
for plants with potential. I remember one occasion particularly well. (A
boot sale, Inverness, one Saturday morning). I was studying the
horticultural display on the table in front of me – and paying particular
attention, in fact, to some brown vegetation cascading down the side of a
in a limp and dead sort of way – when the stallholder caught my eye.
"Good plant, that," he said, "looks half-dead now, you know,
but you should have seen it yesterday, looked fully dead then, fully
Dug it up myself, fine specimen, fifty pence to you, sir"
Well what's the world coming to, I asked myself, when somebody wants fifty
pence for a dead plant? And worse still, I paid fifty pence for it too. He
was very persuasive, you see, I didn't like to say no. Of course he could
have been right, couldn't he? Maybe it wasn't dead at all – or even half
dead for that matter – but simply in need of some tender loving care.
So I took it home, planted it, administered tender loving care and then
awaited signs of revival.
Over the next few days, however, my initial suspicions were confirmed. I'd
bought a dead plant and paid good money for it too. Well what can you say
that? 'Good Heavens' about sums it up, doesn't it?
(Copyrite 2002 Patrick Vickery)