Is it just me, or does anyone else use the garden center as family entertainment, the same as one would a favorite museum or playspace?
 I love our garden center, and my favorite time to go is in the early spring, on one of those days that is not quite as warm as you'd hoped it would be. When the spring weather turns temperamental, we head to the garden center for some brightness and warmth.
 Q, lover of all things froggy, found a new faux-amphibian friend to accompany her on our adventure.
"Toad" you say? 
Well, thanks to Q's infatuation, I have recently learned that there is no taxonomic difference between toads and frogs. Did you know?
So let me just tell you, I am not a gardener. I am really, really not. At all
I am not being modest.
I have dabbled certain years, when inspired by the freshness of the spring or the artfulness of a neighbor's flowerbeds, but always - I hate to say - in a very halfhearted sort of way. I start out strongish, but a part of me knows that I just don't have the time or personality to carry it through the season in proper form. I am just not a gardening sort of person. 
By late summer, timid things have dried up, bold ones have run amok. Unchecked raspberry brambles have tangled themselves into the tender shoots of young lilac bushes, as if in the thrall of a wicked witch's spell.  Grass has begun to fill in the spaces between my best-laid plans.
 And yet...
 I love the garden center. I loooooooooooove it.
 I love the fertilizer smell that hits you when you first walk in. 
Say what you will about fertilizer.
In fact, here in Denver (yes, I'm going to go there) we have a running joke about a certain sort of day when the atmospheric pressure is low and the wind comes in from the NorthEast. "Hmmm...I can smell Greeley today!" we say, drawing in our breath and exchanging a conspiratorial glance. Denver was once, and is arguably still, a cowtown. The stockyards that host the National Western Stock Show every winter are easy to find from the highway by scent alone. 
Greeley is a town on the outskirts of Denver/Boulder suburbia that is still largely agrarian. 
It's a cheap shot to call out Greeley for its fertilizer odor, because the fact is that Denver has its cow-town history to thank for the extraordinarily fertile soil that makes us a garden city. That and, I often speculate, the vast, thundering herds of buffalo that once roamed the front range, before the pioneers made it out far enough to set the wheels in motion that would change the nature of our high-plains land.
 But back to the garden center.
 Once you get past the fertilizer section at the entry, the humidity hits you - that perfect, fragrant humidity that exists only in an artfully-controlled environment. It's similar to the delicate, expensive air of a fine art museum, in which the temperature and humidity are controlled to a degree based on centuries of science and research.
 Once you pass through the aisles of faux-fountains, gnome sculptures, and cactus gardens, the scent of flowers hits you like a narcotic tsunami. I frequently come close to swooning at the first wave of floral effluvia.
After that, each aisle has its own distinct mixture of scents. The light, unnatural, almost imperceptible mix of hanging baskets. The stalwart, mineral scent of pansies and other spring hardies. The deep, sharp musk of geraniums. The dank, elegantly swampy tones of exotic grasses. 
 And finally - only later in the season, the exotic, expensive, luxurious, hybrid, entirely manmade perfume of dozens of varieties of fancy roses.
 Past the roses, there is another set of sliding doors which lead (and by this time the overburdened senses are desperate for respite) to the relief of fresh air and the outdoor plants.
 Things are tight around here this spring, as they are for so many, so we came away from this first garden center trip with only a flat of hardy pansies, a bag of good potting soil, and four hot-pink geraniums - Q's pick. Now that she is a bit older and possessed of her own opinions, I let her pick some plants for herself. Based on her outfit (and her obsession with all think rose-hued) it was hardly a surprise. 
But oh, the pleasure of watching the joy spread on her face when she saw her chosen plants installed in their clay pots, and watched them respond to the water she fed them with her little duck-shaped watering can. 

Her pride at seeing them brought in from the cold each night at dusk is something to behold - especially when she climbs onto a stool and kisses them each on  the top of their brilliant pink heads before trundling off to naptime.


Yoli said...

Lovely post Maia. I love my garden center as well and I have a green thumb. It must so beautiful up in Denver with your fertile soil. The flowers must burst everywhere. Q looks adorable in her jumper.

FDChief said...

Funny, our small ones love having "their" plants as well. Mind you, their commitment to plant care is...ummm...sketchy.

But I share the enjoyment of that serious look they seem to find, like Q, when the first responsibility for their new flowers comes over them...

shopgirl@ said...

Beautiful post Maia! Love Q's boots and belt! such a trendy young lady..

kumiko.y said...

Thank you for visiting all the time.
Has the same thing as my daughter's clothes are wearing.
I know it, I'm so excited.
Across the wide sea, and can share the same things I am very happy!!

Ling Chan said...

i can totally picture Q giving the flower heads a peck, like with that lil froggie sculpture. that's awesome. x