Garden centers are great places to visit

On my heart I can honestly say that I love garden centers – there’s something so satisfying about the anticipation, the rounds, the inspection, the choice and ultimately the struggle to get your new selection into the car without bending or cutting twigs. with the door closing. My parents were avid gardeners and as a kid I would follow them on tours, and those were the last places I wanted to go – huge places full of ‘green stuff’ and they were just places I had to go, for ‘they’ wanted to leave, and I had probably dragged myself sullenly behind them. Now I really have an interest in ‘green stuff’, and I voluntarily visit garden centers with pleasure.

Garden centers are also plentiful here in Portugal, with some specializing in certain plants, others even offering landscaping services. They sell so many things, from actual plants and trees to pots and ornaments, lights and equipment, and things you would never dream of having a connection to gardens.

The plants are diverse and beautiful, some are what you would expect to find, others more exotic, from giant olive trees to palms, to tiny spiky cacti – all kept in pristine condition. Try to buy one, and it’s hard to know which one to buy from a table full of alike, all looking alike, all possibly in bloom, all the same height, some with buds waiting to burst. And if you buy mature trees, they’ll probably be able to not only have someone deliver, but also plant them.

If you have empty space, there may be magnificent Buddhas in a variety of sizes to choose from, or an elegant statue of a Greek lady, begging for a new home. Lighting for your patio? Solar or sector? Color or transparent? Spot or string? Something sparkly to catch the sun? The choices are endless.

And pots – most have a huge range of sizes and colors – from pots a size that would hold Ali Baba and his 40 thieves, in traditional or beautifully glazed earthenware, to eco-friendly packaging for tiny seedlings to start their lives delicate. classic statues can be purchased to nestle in your bushes, or perhaps ones designed to produce the comforting sound of water in your pond, and speaking of ponds – there can be plants for these too .

From patio heaters for those nights when you want to sit but it’s just too cold… gas powered things with space age shapes giving a lazy mesmerizing flame, to wood or charcoal fueled fireplaces. wood, some of which you can even cook on.

The equipment at some of these garden centers is for everyone, spades and rakes of all shapes and sizes for all jobs. Hand tools, buckets, wheelbarrows, hoses, gloves, seeds – an endless list of “must haves” for all types of gardeners, from seasoned pros to those new to gardening. And hidden somewhere there will be bags and bags of different soils or fertilizers to suit each plant.

Many centers also sell “non-garden related” gifts, they are a great one-stop-shop for gifts, from scented candles and soaps, to beautiful glass vases or trinkets – even wood carvings and pretty wooden chimes. hanging wood.

Some important things in a good garden center – obviously great plants in the best possible condition and informative signage showing everything you need to know about where to plant, what to expect etc. Helpful displays would also be a bonus, to give an indication of which plants not only go well together, but will grow well together, and finally helpful informative staff. Oh, and clever merchandising – I know they’re trying to sell their wares, but it’s nice to see if that huge ceramic ball you’ve had your eye on, for example, goes really well with the plants, or this wooden wheelbarrow you covet is the right container for the plants you plan to get!