Back in the good old days (approximately 6 months ago), you had to take out a $350,000 loan at 12% interest with no money down to totally wreck your life financially. But now there’s a much easier, quicker way to go bankrupt. It’s called “gardening.”
Surprised? I was too, especially after the cashier at a local garden center recently totaled up my meager purchases I‘d gathered to fill one lousy planter. Here’s what I bought:
• 1 burgundy Cordyline in a half-gallon pot
• 2 burgundy-and-green ‘Bonita Shea’ Athens Select begonias in pint pots
• 3 ‘Landmark Flame’ lantanas in 4-inch pots
• 2 ‘Flamenco Rhumba’ Cupheas in 4-inch pots
That’s a total of 8 pretty small, mostly annual plants. You know how much they cost?
Forty-Four Stinkin’ Bucks!
I remember not too long ago when you could plant your whole garden with flowers for $44.00. You’d buy annuals in six-packs. Sure, the plants were small, but they grew quickly, and you wound up with a nice garden without having to hock your wife’s jewelry while she was away visiting family.
But then the garden and home centers figured out that they could make a lot more money if they could sell you one, somewhat larger plant for the same price you used to pay for 6 plants. And hey, times were good, time is money, and who has the time to watch flowers grow? No, we want big color NOW, so let us happily fork over an Andrew Jackson for one lousy hanging basket of petunias.
That Was Then, This Is Now
It’s the same reason automakers are so eager to sell you a huge, honkin’ SUV or pickup when all you really need is a dinky Ford Fiesta. Profit increases in direct relationship to the ridiculously extravagant size.
Trouble is, lots of people now can’t afford their houses. When you see dandelions the size of baobab trees dotting the lawns of neighbors who haven’t been seen in months, a bad moon’s a-rising. Gas will soon cost $4 a gallon, rising food prices are quickly turning mulch into an attractive cereal substitute, and the next time you fly in a plane, you’ll have to buy the propeller.
Don’t Blame the Little Guy
It’s not really the fault of the Mom & Pop Garden Center. When oil prices double in the time it takes to boil an egg, it jacks up the cost of producing plants from the time seeds are sown and cuttings are stuck. Heating greenhouses costs more, pots cost more, and shipping costs more. So my stinkin’ flowers cost more.
Cheaper Stuff Now!
But I have a message for garden centers out there. You’d better figure out a way to sell me flowers for less than $4 a pop. I’m not gonna spend 200 bucks just to plant one crummy flower bed. I’ll spend the money on beer. Beer doesn’t need to be weeded.
Have You Been Ripped Off Too?
Are plant prices driving you crazy? Tell me and fellow Grumpians about it. What’s the most ridiculous price you’ve abandoned good sense and paid? What’s your strategy for gardening without going broke? Click here and have your say.