I can not turn down an orphaned plant.
Today, after visiting the Vestal Farmers Market and picking up cucumber, yellow squash, 2 ears of corn (can't believe I bought local sweet corn in October!), an eggplant and 1/2 peck of assorted apples, I said those famous last words to my spouse.
"Let's go to the local garden center and look around."
He should know better by now.
You have to understand that in the Binghamton area, we have a new game show. It's called "Open or Closed?" It will never beat Deal or No Deal in popularity but you sometimes get several chances a day to play. And you don't get taunted by "The Banker" either.
The rules are simple:
You need to buy something.
You try to figure out if the store you need was closed by the flood.
If you can't figure it out, you go there and find out.
There's a lot of black humor involved. Black humor has become a major coping mechanism around here. So if I seem to have a mocking tone - I am not mocking at all.
We head towards contestant #1. The place is Farmer Brown, and we are good customers of theirs. They are open. The owner (actually, the owner's daughter) knows us by sight, and greets us. The place is empty of customers, but not mums. There are hundreds of mums.
It should have been empty. All the mums on display should have been snapped up by eager customers.
"Please, tell your friends we are open", the woman tells us. It is cold, with a stiff wind. I shiver. "The mums are all reduced in price. Tell your friends. " We pick up a lovely white mum that will give our front yard some color. We ask if she has pansies. "Yes", she responds, "but they look so bad after all the rain that they aren't sellable."
Then she astounds us. "Take a couple or three.", she insists. "They will overwinter and come back in the spring. I can't sell them, anyway."
I am keeping my promise to the daughter of Farmer Brown. They have been a favorite of ours for years, and I hope they can stay in business. If you live in the Binghamton area, please tell your gardening friends they are open, and have lovely mums for sale.
Then, it is onto contestant #2, Tioga Gardens. This one is a gamble. It is on the outskirts of Owego, a small town that was terribly hit by the floods. Could they have survived?
Yes! But most of their stock was gone. And what was left was all reduced, anywhere from 25% to 75% off. Looking at it, you could see why. But I had to adopt...er, buy something.
There was a little garden angel statute that had this look on her face, so deep in thought, and I had to buy her. I had been thinking of a little garden statue. After I rejected some others (for some reason I just can't get into frogs or snails) I decided. And then there was this plant, so beautiful, with purple leaves. No price on it, just a name. And some care directions: partial sun, medium water.
The plant was called a Persian Shield. I couldn't put her down, either. I took the resin angel, the Persian Shield, and a bottle of African Violet fertilizer to the checkout. We chatted with the people there. They were coping as best they could, hoping for next spring. I was told the Persian Shield would make a good houseplant. We'll see. In the meantime, please know they are open, too.
Our small businesspeople need our support more than ever.
The resin angel and the mum are now in our front yard. The Persian Shield is on my living room table, awaiting my decision on if I should try to bring it to the office. May they bring us all luck.