Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

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?

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Filed in: Gardening, Shopping

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?!?!


Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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