|Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’|
After completing extensive research, mostly from years of buying shrubs, I’ve noted five types of shrub buyers.
The Researcher: The researchers know exactly what shrubs they want to buy, right down to the cultivar name. They’ve done their homework. They’ve done online searches for the shrubs they are interested in and cross referenced that information with books and then double checked their choices through online forums to make sure they’ve picked the perfect shrub. Then they spend more hours trying to find that exact shrub for sale.
The Grabber: The grabbers are the opposite of the researchers. They have no idea what they want other than “shrubs”. They go to the garden centers or big box stores and pick shrubs with pretty blooms and leaves and comment, “It’s green, good enough.” And off they go, with their shrubs, which of course they generally call “bushes” because they really don’t know any better.
The Rescuers: The rescuers can usually be found hanging around the back of the garden center where the broken, battered and bruised plants are marked down to clear them out. They are on a mission. They see those poor mistreated shrubs with half their soil knocked out of their containers, branches broken through mishandling, wilting with no water in the hot afternoon sun, and buy those. They are convinced that with a little pruning, a good drink of water, and some soothing garden talk, those rescued shrubs will be just as nice and healthy as the other ones. Oh, and the money they saved!
The Experimenters: The experimenters are looking for “something different”. They want to be on the cutting edge when it comes to their shrubs. Who cares if no one has heard of the shrubs they are buying or there is no information about those shrubs? So much the better. They are willing to take a chance to be the first to have those shrubs in their gardens. They are willing to push the shrubs a zone or two beyond their published hardiness zone. Common shrubs? Please. Experimenters would rather buy annuals than have common shrubs in their gardens.
The Gardeners: Gardeners can be a bit unpredictable and be all types of shrub buyers – researcher, grabber, rescuer, experimenter, all in the same trip to the garden center.
They go in as a researcher, looking for a very specific shrub and the next thing they know, they are a grabber, putting a couple of shrubs on the cart because they are green and oh, yeah, there was that one bare spot that would be good to fill in with a few basic shrubs. (Playing the role of a grabber once, I bought Rhus aromatica ‘Low-Gro’ and have never liked it because I don’t like its scent.)
Then they pass by the clearance shrubs and even though they had not five minutes ago looked in the rear view mirror and promised themselves that they were going to stay away from the marked down plants, there they are, the rescuer, rescuing just a few of them.
Finally, they wheel their cart toward the check out area, loaded down with their one very specific shrub, a few shrubs just because they are green, and another few shrubs that called out to be rescued and snap, they suddenly stop and look down at the tag of a new shrub they’ve never seen before and purr in their special low experimenter voice, “Well, aren’t you different? How would you like to come home with me?”
And then they load that shrub onto their cart and finally pay for their purchases and head on back to their garden.
Researchers, grabbers, rescuers, experimenters, gardeners… all out there buying shrubs. Which one are you, most of the time?