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!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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