Finding Your Garden Center Guru

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Almost every garden center has a plant guru: a person so knowledgeable about plants and plant care that all the other employees defer to them. (Garden centers that don’t have one usually fail … quickly!) Latin names flow out of their mouth like spring water. They’re able to explain complex horticultural issues in such a way that even a child would understand. And these people are so essential to their employer that they’re free to say anything thing they want … even if it’s to warn you not to buy something.

Usually garden center gurus are employees with a long experience in gardening—they really have been there and done that!—although you sometimes do find young ones who just seem to magically soak up horticultural information like a sieve.

Take your potential plant purchases to these people. Inevitably, they’ll yank a plant or two out of your basket saying, “You really don’t want these!” And soon, after a few questions, they’ll be pointing out the plants you do want to be growing. Real finds that most other store visitors walk right past without noticing, but that will give exceptional results.

Find out the hours your local garden guru works and only visit on those days. Garden gurus may have other tasks to accomplish, but they always stop to answer questions. They’re passionate about gardening—really bonkers about it!—and have to share their passion.

Make the garden guru your friend and soon your garden will be the most beautiful and productive in the neighborhood.

And tell them you appreciate them. That’s what they live for!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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