Thursday, 27 October 2011


I was mowing yesterday, happily going about my business, walking up and down the lawn, manipulating the mower along a shrub border next to a building as you do. What I didn't see just under the edge of the shrub was a scaffolding connector that had been dumped thoughtlessly there by a workman at some time shortly before. I've put the mower over things many times, cracked alloy bodies, bent blades or such like, but this time was different. Not just the dull bang one usually hears but a strange thud, the mower slowed, then sped up and started to vibrate like a washing machine on a spin cycle. I turned it off,, looked underneath, saw a slightly bent blade and was relieved at the thought of only spending £20 or so for a new one. Getting the blade off however is no easy task on a commercial mower, as anyone in the trade will tell you. Two heavy duty bolts, heads usually worn too smooth to use a spanner. This would need something tougher, and so off I went in search of a big boy to do the job......a pair of steelesons (some would know it as a pipe wrench).
The nearest place as it turned out was a nearby garden centre, and I found the tool in question, shelled out another £20, and set off for home to tackle the task in hand. 

And it was this that led me to ponder over the demise of the garden centre. Why was I heading here in search of 'toolbox' tools? Well my friends, it's simply because garden centres are sadly no more true garden centres. Gone are the essentials of the gardener, and in are restaurants, video libraries, gift centres and household ornament emporiums............and tat! 

Actual, real and genuine heathers, no doubt glorious in their own right if planted and left to flower. Do we now wait for that? Nope, we now spray them in hideous colours.....nice and natural eh?

Numerous cat 'deterrents'. This one in a tasteful pressed mild steel and painted in an inaffectual matt black paint. These DO NOT work and look pretty grim, but people snap them up all the same.

I like cactus, and given time and the ability to read a basic book on the subject, just about everyone could get most, if not all, to flower. Good enough? Nope! Now you can buy cactus with very tasteful and realistic dried flowers attached via a very cleverly hidden spike of wire. Just like the real thing......NO!!!!!

Hydrangeas in full leaf and flower in the winter months?? What is all this about?? Hydrangeas are summer shrubs, and are magnificent, strong, colourful and totally self supporting. So why buy these abominations that have been forced under glass, and are so weak that the three or four 'cuttings' have to be supported by an array of canes? Shame on the so called growers.

Next on my target list are bad water features. These include cheaply made contemporary designs such as vertical stainless steel walls with water cascades flowing down, or rotating mock granite spheres. If one must go for this style then spend a couple of thousand pounds on a quality one, not £75.00 on a 'more affordable' one. As for water features such as the one above, the answer is simple. If you one day find yourself wanting to get one, then have a cup of coffee, find a quiet place, dig a very big hole, climb into it, and get a friend to fill it back up!

This was a new one for me, and something that I think is unique to 2011 garden centres here in the UK. Let me introduce you to the grave ornament section of a nearby garden centre. Everything one needs to respectfully mark the final resting place of a departed loved one.......and some things at half you can not only remember them with love, but save money as well!

Gnomes.......Just don't go there!

It started with a single, spiralled bamboo. That was bad enough, but was has happened? Can you believe that on the shelf below there were similar ones trained into the word 'DAD'? Where do people put these other than in the bin?

More quality pressed mild steel painted matt black. This time in a sort of gardeny interactive way, as the heads are mounted on springs......nice! Maybe a pressie for the in-laws?

I actually nearly vomited when I stumbled across this display of plant spikes to brighten up the darkest corner of ones home. There was even a Mickey & Minnie Mouse in there.....all wonderfully wobbly on their springs.

Log rolling......again....just don't go there. Whatever your financial situation, spent 20 times as much and get something real.

And finally, Jamie, I like you, enjoy your style of cooking and recipes, and used to respect you. I have always argued your corner regarding school meals and general food education, but now you have entered the domain of the a cook! When I feel it is ok to tell you how to flambe a melon, then you can tell me what compost is best!  And potato compost? What the hell is that????? In the picture, his face even looks as though he is thinking 'my potato compost...the right choice'

Thanks for dropping by people.


  1. How wonderfully, cynically accurate...and it is the same in Australia. I have been to huge homewares places (Lowes and others) in the U.S. too, and they are even worse! Cheap, nasty, hastily produced, imported rubbish.

  2. Ha!! Loved your rant Gary! And I'm glad to see you all have things just as tacky looking as we have in the States. I kept wondering about those colored heathers until I read they were spray painted - egads! And I'm wondering too, what is potato compost??

  3. Hi Hazel,
    Glad to know it isn't just the UK being targeted.

  4. Hi Jean,
    Those heathers really are something aren't they? And as for 'what is potato compost?'.....well, expensive for starters! lol