Wednesday, May 2

What Does Your Shopping Cart Say About You?

I have been rather emboldened by other gardeners' recent reactions to my Lazy Bed Construction confession. So much so that I will confess to at least one other odd behavior: When I'm out shopping at garden centers, I enjoy looking at other people's shopping carts and trying to figure out what kind of gardeners they are.

I try to look at the cart first, so I can guess by the plants whether the person pushing it is a first-time homebuyer, formal herb gardener, die-hard veggie grower, someone who has to have the latest variety of everything, or a shade gardener with a huge hosta addiction.

I rarely do find out whether I'm wrong or right in my assumptions, but the fun is in playing the game anyway. It's not about making judgements--there is no condemnation in my thoughts--but rather about idle curiousity and a love of imagining other people's gardens. (That cute young couple with the lovely Japanese maple... will it be planted under the window of what they hope will become their first child's bedroom?)

Of course, I play the game with my own cart, too. What does my shopping cart say about me?

I think that this one definitely gives away a few things: 1) I'm a fairly eclectic gardener, meaning that I don't have just one set garden style. 2) I'm not a typical plant snob, as evidenced by the purchase of groundcover sedums and "lowly" herbs like thyme, rosemary, and lemon verbena. 3) I am a huge foliage freak. See the 'Royal Glissade' and 'Palisandra' coleus, carex flagellifera, 'Gage's Shadow' perilla, 'Silver Falls' dichondra, pennisetum rubrum, sedum cauticola, etc.

I may be the only person who plays my little game, but I bet that almost all of us have looked down at our carts as we're waiting in line at the garden center and wondered: "What does this little collection of plants say about me?"


Nickie said...

huh....I never thought about playing this game before...

I've done it in the grocery store, but i've never done it at the nursery (mainly because i'm too awestruck eyeballing all the plants I think)

Carol Michel said...

I'll confess to looking at people's carts, mostly to make sure they didn't discover some goodie that I didn't see. The other day I was in line to buy some top soil, saw that the lady behind me had a gorgeous fern {"right off the truck" so the staff there hadn't ruined them yet). Next thing I know, I'm buying a big hanging fern!

Susan said...

I absolutely play the same game, although I do have to admit that, after gardening in Central Texas for 15 years, sometimes I find myself looking and thinking, Whoa, you're in for a surprise with that one (either because it's some plant I've killed five times or because it's one of those things that will never survive August in Austin — why do the garden stores persist in offering such things?). And when I see someone's cart filled with 10 of the same boring green shrub, I imagine the plants all lined up in front of a house somewhere and want to go up and say, Look around, look how much fun you could have with some of this stuff. So far I haven't blurted out anything embarrassing but give me a few years and I'll probably start offering unsolicited advice.

— Susan from South of the River

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Sure, I look at other people's carts too, mainly to see if perhaps they found something that I have overlooked.

My shopping cart probably says: very eclectic gardener and has cats too (garden centers over here have a side line in pet stuff).

At the nurseries there are no shopping carts and mostly no baskets either.

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I always look...partly for the reason Carol and Yolanda gave---did they get something I missed?---and partly because looking at what other people are buying kind of halts my tendencies to get into a gardening rut. I tend to go for pastels that offer lots of blooms and will do well with a little neglect...a pretty big category all it's own, but it could result in a fairly boring garden if I just stuck with that. When I look at someone else's cart and see that they're buying, say, something like Canna 'Australia,' with its deep burgundy foliage and bright red blooms, it reminds me that there's a whole world of plants out there that would look killer in my garden. It's fun. Variety's the spice of life, and all :-)

Anonymous said...

I do the same thing in the grocery store... especially in the produce section. So many possibilities.

Christine Boles said...

I've been doing the lasagna method on a new garden I've been planting, and was glad you mentioned it~ having you do it, too, made it seem more, um, legal. Like I wasn't just going over the deep end to do it that way.

Besides, the idea of someone my size handling a mid-tiller on a slight hill made the hardware guy in the orange apron very nervous!

Dawn said...

Great subject!

I 'cart-peek' as well. Since moving to Austin I've found myself asking a lot of questions to other gardeners in line at various nurseries about the plants they are buying. Many times they share a lot of good info.

I certainly I fall into the category that Susan mentioned: I'm the woman who's in for big surprises about what I've purchased. I'm just waiting for my new plants to either die or completely take over my garden. Time will tell. Until then, I'll keep peeking at the other gardener's carts.


Kylee Baumle said...

I look in other's carts, too, mainly to see if I missed something. I'd hate to do THAT! LOL. And what does my cart say about me? Not sure, but I do know it says something different this year than last year! (Which will be a subject for a post very soon...)

meresy_g said...

I am an awful person. I totally look at other people's carts/baskets and judge them on their purchases. People that have two geraniums, one spiky thing, and a six-pack of vinca? Not worth knowing. 30ish man alone clutching a dwarf fothergilla? Hello!

Sylvana said...

Ha! meresy_g you made me laugh!

Even when I'm not plant shopping I wonder what my cart says about me. Most of the time I feel like Macgyver.

OldRoses said...

I fall into the "plant snob" category. I always snicker at the people buying easy annuals like zinnias and marigolds. Come on, they are a breeze to grow from seed and so much cheaper that way! And guys with shrubs in their carts. Especially those spiral ones. They always look like they're being tortured. The shrubs, not the men.

Kathy said...

I order most of my plants through the mail, but I do make up stories about people based what's in their grocery cart. And five years ago I had to spend a month in the hospital with a problem pregnancy. I looked at every hospital employees badge to see how different their picture was from their current appearance. (yes, I was bored.) I mentioned to one nurse that she looked exactly like her i.d. badge, and she confessed she had lost hers and had had to get a new one that very day.

Anonymous said...

My dear Swampwoman:

There is nothing "lowly" about an herb . . . no matter the variety or cultivar.

Interesting post. I just like to go in those type of stores and watch folks fool around with stuff. I also eavesdrop on questions to the employees. I will admit, I have chimed in a time or two.

Janet said...

I often look, but it never occurred to me to speculate. It does occur to me often enough to strike up a conversation.

Annie in Austin said...

Kim, after some hesitation, I'll admit to playing this game, too - looking to see if someone is buying what I think of as an interesting plant. [And yours are very interesting. Not lowly.]

But I hate the idea of another person playing the game back on me!! A gardener in line behind me the other day would have been very UNimpressed by a tiny pot of Mint, destined for decapitation prior to planting, with the leaves added to non-traditional Southern Comfort Mint Juleps.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

skankycat said...

What does my cart say? That someone else must be going to dig a lot of big holes.

This is Alabama where almost everyone asks everyone else where they found that and does it Grow?

Unknown said...

This has been so much fun to read that I've let the comments go for a while before responding! :)

GGG, I admit that I do this in the grocery store, too. Sometimes there, I want to ask people if I can follow them home to help them eat dinner. lol.

Carol, good point! I have had occasion to ask, "Hey, where did you find that?" once or twice.

Susan, I'm still giggling about your comment: "So far I haven't blurted out anything embarrassing but give me a few years and I'll probably start offering unsolicited advice." *grin*

yolanda elizabet, seriously? NO CARTS?! However do you get all of your finds up to the cash register and then out to the car?

Colleen, what a great thought. I'm going to have to cart-peep with an eye toward expending my horizons from now on. :)

Kelly, I admit, I'm always impressed by someone whose grocery store cart has a good number of things from the fruit/veggie section!

Christine, lol at making the guys in the orange apron nervous! I know what you mean, by the way--having people respond that they make beds similarly make me feel more legitimate...

Dawn, I love your attitude! And I hope that you get some happy surprises mixed in there, too. :)

Kylee, very interesting. I'm keeping my eye out for that promised revelation...

meresy_g, I almost spit out my coffee when I read your comment! LOL! I think that I'm more judgemental about the grocery store carts than the flower store carts, myself. So we're both terrible people. :)

Sylvana, feeling like MacGuyver is a good thing! Maybe you could come over and build me a trellis with the trashpicked items in my garage and a few paper clips? *grin*

OR, I'm giggling over your plant snob confessions! I admit to liking those tortured shrubs--only sometimes, in the right place--but I'm picky enough that I would have to torture my own instead of buying them pre-tortured. lol.

Kathy, how funny that you commented on that woman's badge the exact same day she'd gotten a new one! I don't make up stories about people based on their grocery carts (only their garden center carts) but I do decide whether or not I want to eat dinner with them. :)

Rick, you are spot on. There is nothing "lowly" about herbs except in many people's perceptions. I had been considering discussing that in a future post. And I eavesdrop shamelessly on questions, too... but haven't had the courage to chime in (yet) when I'm just a fellow shopper.

Janet, I wouldn't consider myself a shy person, but it rarely occurs to me to strike up a conversation. I wonder why?

Annie, that's a good point. I sometimes shudder when I'm walking through the line with some mishmash of things that makes it look like I have a patchwork garden with no sense of rhythm or repetition, etc. I guess that's a great lesson to all of us to not jump to conclusions, eh? (By the way, that sounds like a much better mint julep than the traditional ones!)

skankycat, thanks for stopping by! It's great that you have "someone else" to dig all of those great big holes. *grin* I take it that growing at all is a big question down in Alabama?

Karen said...

Yes, sometimes I will play that game. Depending on which nursery I go to, sometimes I will spot the rich people with a big estate to cover. Usually they are buying tons of expensive trees.

BTW: I am in Ontario (ONT). Blogger uses "CA" as the abbreviation for "Canada".

Anthony said...

I went to Lowes yesterday during lunch and loaded a flat bed up with 16 bags of dehydrated manure. I wonder what people were thinking about me in my business suit pushing around a load of poop. :)

Unknown said...

Karen, thanks for that correction--I updated your link at the right. I have seen those cartfuls of huge trees and large shrubs, too. Makes me wonder where around here they have room for all of that!

Anthony, if I saw that, and I was single... the first thing I would think was, "Does he have a wedding ring on?" *GRIN*

Gotta Garden said...

Very good, BS_G! This is quite entertaining! I, too, look in carts, especially while waiting in line and often have little conversations. I love plants and don't care whether they're the current offering of annuals or some exotic...I'm likely to have both in the cart!

Lemon verbena is one of my very favorites!

Unknown said...

You cart tells me that you are my target customer, eclectic, willing to try new things as well as the tried and true, and into foliage. You cart looks like a experienced gardeners cart.

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