Bzzzz May 29th, 2008

Con­jure up in your mind your last visit to a gar­den cen­ter. What was it like?

Chances are good that it smelled a lit­tle funny—maybe like chem­i­cals. There were piles of seed, soil, rocks on pal­lets. A vari­ety of plas­tic pots were piled on industrial-looking shelves. Tools hung on peg­boards. Rows and rows of plants were lined up like lit­tle green soldiers.

If you believe the sur­veys that say more than three-quarters of Amer­i­can adults claim to do some gar­den­ing, it’s astound­ing that our shop­ping resources are so mea­ger and devoid of style.

Finally, those clever mar­keters that cre­ated the dis­tinc­tive, hip brands Anthro­polo­gie and Urban Out­fit­ters have decided to tackle the gar­den mar­ket and inject some style. And not a minute too soon, for my taste.


Ear­lier this month, they opened Ter­rain at Styer’s, the first store in a whole new gar­den cen­ter con­cept. Accord­ing to John Kin­sella, Terrain’s man­ag­ing direc­tor, the goal of Ter­rain is to be a “des­ti­na­tion” rather than the typ­i­cal drive-by pit stop visit to most gar­den centers.

Ter­rain at Styer’s is located in Con­cordville, PA, 20 min­utes south of Philadel­phia. It is a mas­sive five-acre com­plex with 19,000 square feet under roof. In addi­tion to the out­door nurs­ery, Ter­rain has books, home décor, light­ing, table­ware, indoor plants and trop­i­cals. Tired of shop­ping? Have lunch at the café, where foods are locally sourced. Need some help get­ting started? Call on their land­scap­ing and design professionals.


Kin­sella says that peo­ple typ­i­cally stay at Ter­rain for three to five hours. Prod­ucts include items sourced from all over the world that you wouldn’t see at other gar­den centers.

If we were to be com­pared this to another gar­den cen­ter, women would feel this is a more acces­si­ble expe­ri­ence than going to a typ­i­cal gar­den cen­ter or a big box store,” said Kin­sella. “There is more atten­tion to pre­sen­ta­tion. It’s a voy­age of dis­cov­ery with inter­est­ing ways of pre­sent­ing prod­ucts that will inspire people.”

Unlike Anthro­polo­gie and Urban Out­fit­ters, which were built from the ground up, the Ter­rain stores will part­ner with exist­ing local gar­den cen­ters to cre­ate the Ter­rain brand. Kin­sella wasn’t dis­clos­ing future loca­tions, but he did say that they expect a new Ter­rain to be open by year’s end.

I put in my bid with Kin­sella for Calvert County, Mary­land, where I live and gar­den. He’s a nice man, so he didn’t shoot me down on the idea that I could get my own Ter­rain. But he did say that they are look­ing at places where peo­ple are doing some seri­ous gar­den­ing. Philadel­phia, home of the most elab­o­rate flower show in the U.S., made the Penn­syl­va­nia loca­tion logical.

Kin­sella says Terrain’s mar­ket is “every­one.” While that sounds nicely demo­c­ra­tic, I sus­pect that the real mar­ket for now is the gar­den styl­ista with some money to spend.

There will always be peo­ple who pre­fer the util­i­tar­ian nature of the big box store gar­den depart­ment. But if Ter­rain can make gar­den­ing hip and styl­ish, maybe it will ignite a hot new wave of gar­den­ing enthusiasm.

I’m all for that. I’m also all for shop­ping. Road trip anyone?

Posted In: Gardening, Shopping



Bzzzz March 17th, 2008

After view­ing the exu­ber­ant dis­plays of flow­ers, plants, con­tain­ers and hardscaping…

…the vis­i­tors to the Philadel­phia Flower Show were prac­ti­cally foam­ing at the mouth in the ven­dor area. I have never seen so many women car­ry­ing around bunches of pussy wil­low in my whole life. They looked like some sort of bizarre reli­gious pro­ces­sion with the waiv­ing branches and the ecsta­tic looks on their faces.

Well, since I have actu­ally planted my very own pussy wil­low bush, I shopped for other things. Here are some of Robin’s Fab­u­lous Flower Show Finds.



A cou­ple of days ago I talked about how I am just mad for Ike­bana, the Japan­ese art of flower arrang­ing. Don’t call the Ike­bana police on me, because I’m quite sure I have bro­ken some Ike­bana rules, but I bought an Ike­bana vase and gave it a try here at home.The trick with this nifty lit­tle vase is a built-in “frog” at the bot­tom and an enclosed water well. I don’t have the source for you, but you can search for Ike­bana sup­plies on the Inter­net and find many sim­i­lar ves­sels for your own Ike­bana creations.



I have always found that my plants are much hap­pier (ergo I am a bet­ter gar­dener) when they are in clay pots. Unfor­tu­nately, it is exceed­ingly dif­fi­cult to find a styl­ish clay pot. They are all so mass-produced look­ing and util­i­tar­ian. So I was just tick­led pink to dis­cover Goff Creek Pot­tery. These pots are about 10″ high and cost $40 each. Goff Creek has many larger pots, includ­ing huge and dec­o­ra­tive urns that go for up to $800. Sadly, there was only so much my hus­band was will­ing to carry for the sake of my gar­den­ing habits.



I also met a won­der­fully charm­ing cou­ple with a tiny lit­tle booth of pot­tery vases. Paula L. Brown-Steedly, at Vir­ginia Clay, is the pot­ter and seems to spe­cial­ize in organic-looking, hand-built clay ves­sels, although she also had a num­ber of thrown and thrown and manip­u­lated ves­sels. I pur­chased these two vases, about 11″ high each, at about $85 and $70. They look fab­u­lous with a sim­ple arrange­ment on my farm­house table.



Do you love African Vio­lets like I do? Well, let me intro­duce you to the Vio­let Gallery. They only had about 20 of their vio­lets on dis­play and for sale. But their cat­a­log is 16 pages of mouse type with HUNDREDS of dif­fer­ent types of vio­lets. I was just crazy about the var­ie­gated vari­eties, but man­aged to restrain myself and only brought home four at $4.95 each. In the cat­a­log, the cost is $6 each. Spec­i­mens are extremely robust. Highly recommended!

I love fash­ion. Unfor­tu­nately, fash­ion and gar­den­ing don’t mix so very well. I mostly wear jeans or shorts, a tank top and sneak­ers. I love the look of those British knee-high boots, but frankly, there is just no need for them here. So I get my jol­lies with gar­den­ing gloves and jus­tify the pur­chases by telling myself how use­ful they are.

But don’t you hate gloves? I would much rather dig my fin­gers into the dirt and rip out those wretched weeds with my own bare fin­ger­nails. Unfor­tu­nately, it’s not quite right to traipse into a focus group room or con­fer­ence room with raggedy and dirty nails. So I have (mostly) learned to use gloves. I pre­fer gloves that don’t feel like gloves–I want them snug, but not tight. Thin, but not flimsy. I don’t like rub­bery bar­ri­ers. I want to be able to FEEL what I’m doing. (Ahem.)



Well any­way. I adore these Atlas Gloves. They are, indeed, soft and sup­ple. I can hardly wait to give them a test drive. At $7 they are a bar­gain. I may have to order in bulk.

BTW, you may notice that these are a size small. Since I am 5’10, I do not have small hands. So if you can­not find these gloves locally and decide to order them, know that they run VERY LARGE.

Isn’t shop­ping so much fun?!?!

Posted In: Shopping

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