I’ve sometimes remarked on this blog that plants are often too cheap both to ensure good quality for the gardener and provide suitable margins for grower and retailer.
Well today I have an example of that – plus an astonishing example from the other extreme.
My friend, writer and editor Fiona Gilsenan, spotted this fescue (click to enlarge) on sale recently at Bibendum in London. It was priced at £40. No, not £4 - £40! That’s $63.81. OK, it’s in a big pot, Fiona tells me it was about what in the US we call a gallon (about 3.5 litres). But £40! I know, costs in London are steep and it’s clearly taken more than a few months for a fescue to reach that size. But £40!
Then a couple of days ago I took a look at our local Lowes here in Pennsylvania; for Brits, Lowe’s is like a monster B&Q. And there I found chrysanthemums (below, click to enlarge) in 11/4 quart pots (just over a litre) for £2.48, that’s £1.55. Take out the cost of the pot, the compost, the cutting, the royalty on the cutting, the transport, the cost of growing since spring, the maintenance in the store – and what mark up is there left for the grower and retailer?
So in one store the price is so outrageous that only the ignorant or the clinically deluded would pay it, and in the other it’s so cheap that the gardener should almost insist on paying more!
* Let’s not get our Bibebenda confused. This is Bibendum, the restaurant and retailer in Kensington, complete with its slightly icky-sounding Crustacea Stall, not Bibendum the wine store in London’s Primrose Hill nor Bibendum the importer of English beer into Sweden.
* The Plants section of the Lowe’s website, today at least, features no plants at all, of any kind, only things like soil, pickling supplies(!) and plant food.
UPDATE - Six days later
Those chrysanthemums have been reduced! They've gone from too cheap to, well, actually, about right as most of them are looking pretty sad now. And the yellow ones are labelled as orange.