The Idiot Gardener

WARNING: This site contains information on gardening, brewing, curing meat,

building shit and hunting, all done in a piss-poor manner. It is not suitable for the

feeble-minded, the weak and lame, those of a nervous disposition, vegans and

vegetarians (and those other ones that only eat fish and the occasional bacon

sandwich - I think they're called 'hypocrites'), those who practice any

manner of folk singing or dancing, people named Colin or fans of Barry Gibb.

Spilling seed (and other knob references)

The rain is bouncing off the windows, the ground is a quagmire akin to the toilets at Luxor airport, and all is well with the world as I have no need to venture out and battle with the nutjobs and retards who seem oblivious to the fact that the shops will be only closed for one whole day, and there’s not an international shortage of pickled onions!

I probably don’t need to venture out at all, because I have a wall of beer, three freezers packed with stuff, salad leaves growing in the covered raised beds, enough good French wine to create a wine lake, and I have all of my seeds.

Yes, you can step back in amazement. You can let your jaw drop. You can even shit the bed. It’s true; following the 2012 “last minute” debacle, this year I have bought all of my seeds in advance.

That said, it wasn’t easy!

I headed off to a local garden centre. They had no seeds that I could see. I asked a girl with a bad attitude where the seeds were, and she looked at me as if I’d just fouled the air in her vicinity.

“The seeds are in the back; we’ve moved them to make room for the Christmas stock.”

I said yes, I’d see the mountain of non-gardening shit, but I had hoped that a garden centre would have a few token gardening items, just for old time’s sake. She explained that they did this every year.

“We do it every year” she said. I don’t just invent this shit.

I opted against prolonging the agony, and tried to pay for a tool I had picked up on my way through the sparse gardening area. She scanned the item and demanded – yes, demanded – £17.99. I rather politely pointed out that the item was priced at £15.99, and indeed was catalogued, by the garden centre, at that same price. She looked at the till, then looked back at me and snarled, “It’s always been £17.99”.

“Always? Since the dawn of creation?” I asked. She looked baffled. I realised that intelligent thought wasn’t her strong point.

“Right,” she grunted with a fair degree of aggression, “you show me where it says £15.99!”

“I will,” I replied, “but first, get the manager”.

As we walked, I spent my time explaining very clearly to the manager that if there’s one thing that really hacks me off, it is when shop staff presume that if a price displayed in the store is not the same as the price on the till, then the customer must be wrong. This is despite it typically being the store that is wrong. However, rather than apologise and discover the facts, the staff almost challenge the customer as if he (or she) has somehow conspired to create a problem.

I explained that making the customer prove their point by marching them through the store to “show” the staff the shop’s own error was an unfriendly way of doing business, and when the customer is proven to be right, it merely makes theme hostile towards the outlet. He smugly suggested that maybe the item had been in the wrong place. I politely explained that the item came in different sizes, and I had been sure to ascertain that I had the correct size, thus checking the display tags and the packaging.

On arrival at the display, he looked at the clearly advertised price, nodded, and we set off back. No apology, no nothing.

With my point proven, I spent the time returning to the till to point out that whilst mistakes do happen, it’s how the customer is made to feel that counts. Once back at the till, he told me he had some good news: he was willing to sell me the item at the correct price! He said this as if I should somehow be dancing a jig of sheer joy for not being ripped off, and for having my time wasted by worthless twonks.

I pointed out that there were many competitive garden centres, and some had polite staff, and they deserved my custom more than he did. I then suggested that he place the tool, with some force, into his own sphincter.

Wyevale Garden Centre, take a bow, for your service is truly shit!

Next I headed to a Haskins Garden Centre. The staff were polite, and they did have seeds, but the selection was limited to Thompson and Morgan or Unwins, and the space given over to them was minimalist to say the least. Having failed to find the first three items on my extensive list, I gave up.

Finally, I visited an independent outlet. He had very few seeds, but told me if I left my list with him he’d “see what he could do”.

By this point I was getting bored of people, so I headed onto the interweb. You might have heard of it!

I ended up using three suppliers: Kings Seeds, Seeds of Italy and Premier Seeds Direct. The vast majority of the seeds came from the latter supplier. Kings and SoI made up a few items that PSD didn’t stock. Here’s a point of interest. The average price of Kings Seeds was £1.45 a packet, while the average price of SoI seeds was £2.20. Kings charge £1.50 postage, and took 8 days to deliver, while SoI charged £2.99 postage and delivery took 14 days! Premier Seeds Direct’s average packet cost was £0.99, and postage cost £0.59, and they were with me the very next day! Not only that, but their seed counts were often twice as many as typical seed counts for the varieties!

The so-called garden centres who moved their gardening essentials into small corners or back rooms while they sold over-priced Christmas crap must accept that increasingly, they will lose custom to small outlets that provide choice, good service and economies on price and delivery. When Christmas is over, do they really think we’ll all flock back to see if they’ve deigned to sell gardening stuff once more?

Retail might be in the toilet, but the Garden Centres are probably pushing it past the U-Bend by minimising all things horticultural!

So, that’s the seeds bit. I did suggest in the title that there would be some other knob references in here, so here goes with a few festive corkers.

Splash your hot sauce all over her lovely round puddings.

Get your mouth around a bit of cheese at the end.

Give your nuts a bloody good crack.

Right, that’s your lot. Now go and pat an orphan on the head! I’ve got the Christmas beef to prepare!

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17 thoughts on “Spilling seed (and other knob references)

  1. Trailshome

    Merry Christmas Eve! You’ve certainly been stirring things up, haven’t you? Congratulations on finding and stocking up on your seeds already. I haven’t even started drawing up the list yet, save that for the doldrum days of late January when the sun doesn’t shine for weeks and we need the promise of brighter days ahead to just keep moving along. I agree with the lousy service, and bless you for calling them on it and demanding better. If enough people did that, they might get a little better at it. Hope your Christmas gets a bit brighter, and don’t swim too deep in that lake of wine!

  2. Hippo

    Try telling them, because you still have a slim streak of decency left and don’t want the spotty faced geek on the till to lose out, that they have UNDERcharged you. I could only imagine a more uncomprehending disbelieving reaction if I had arrived naked from another planet.

  3. Aimee

    Just this morning I went through the same song and dance over an overcharge, but I did it all in Spanish, because I’m in Mexico, and the customer service is the worst in the world (restaurants excepted. Mexican waiters are the best in the world. They should just use waiters at all retail outlets).

  4. Jane

    There’s an independant garden centre within spitting disance of the Tidy Garden which we no longer touch with a barge pole or any other lengths of timber having been ‘abused’ on 3 occasions by staff. On one occasion we wanted to purchase a few chunks of slate, the slate department had strict instructions to seek a member of staff for assistance with purchasing said slate (for fear of death or worse!). As there were no staff available on the ‘shop’ floor we joined a rather long checkout queue and waited our turn for service, for this was where the staff hung out. On arrival at the checkout we were ‘told-off’ in front of everyone because the staff member would now have to leave the till to sort out our slate which required a staff member!! On another occasion we tried to buy a pond (don’t ask)…that was our FINAL visit!!
    Merry Christmas to the IG’s and a more fruitful gardening year ahead.

  5. patientgardener

    Oh dear you have had a trying time. I rarely buy seeds from shops/garden centres these days. The range and service from on-line stores is just so much better and you get to stay in the warm and dry and only argue with your internet connection.

    I avoid the large garden centres and frequent the independent ones due to the better service but I get the impression from others I talk to on-line that I am lucky to have a good one near me.

    Have a good Christmas

  6. Linda Claxson

    Always guaranteed a giggle when I come and visit here lol.
    My daughter works for a well known store and after being bought up by parents who have openly criticised ignorant, rude or unhelpful store staff, my daughter is determined to be that one helpful soul that knows where everything is in the store and believes that customers are 99.9% right unless they are being obnoxious just for the sake of it – in which case she’ll still be polite 🙂
    I’m with you on the staff though, I seriously dislike staff who treat you like you are the bane of their life rather than a customer who makes their job a necessity.
    I’m off to check out premier seeds now – thanks for the tip 🙂

  7. Rob Woodman

    Like all retail places, sales are down, bonuses are a thing of the past and more and more the front end is managed by spotty teens who have more virtual friends on facebook than dealing with real people. As a Brit working in a American Garden Center, we would of carried you out to your car to make up for our f-up. However, the company is only as good as the last person the customer deals with, and even we fall short occasionally. Sadly that person is often someone on the lowest rung of the ladder and your problems are only stopping then from texting their BFF back while on the clock.

  8. Gary

    Do you know, I am so glad that someone else has noticed this about garden centres. Unfortunately I feel that most people do just go flooding back after Christmas. I get totally hacked off by the lack of gardening stuff generally throughout the year at these places. On a similar note, I bought some Christmas tree lights from Homebase this year, they packed in just before the 24th so I went back for a replacement set, or even a bulb, only to find no Christmas stuff on the shelves at all. It had been replaces by barbecues and summer garden flaming furniture!! No wonder life seems to fly by!

  9. walk2write

    You forgot another reference: That’s a lovely piece of meat you have there! I’m not sure how your employment system works there, but here most retail employees are paid minimum wage, are poorly trained, and are not offered any sort of commission on sales. There is no incentive, no bonus to entice them to be nice to customers. Now if shops allowed tips, it might make a difference, but then why should the customer be expected to pay extra for good service?

  10. Sharon Longworth

    I’m starting to feel very lucky that we have a properly good garden centre, where I’ll be going soon to spend the vouchers I insisted people gave me for christmas. Anyway, glad you got your seeds sorted – hopefully that means we’ve got a whole more year of growth related smuttery to look forward to! Happy new year.

  11. Anon

    I work at a big chain store which has a big gardening section. At Christmas Xmas trees fill the garden centre as plants get sold off cheap beforehand but gardening tools and everything else apart from the plants remains as is.
    One or two things bug me though being a gardener myself – popular crappy plants get sent in in ridiculous quantities year after year by head office (we have no control over that) like more cordylines and them miniature yellow conifers than anyone could possibly need. Plants are mostly the same ones year in year out with a handful of new additions.
    One thing that bugs me the most though is when staff who don’t know how to even water right get moved onto the gardening section and proceed to underwater the thirsty plants then completely drown the ones that like it on the dry side and end up killing a lot of both.

    Personally I shop around for gardening stuff. I like the little independent nurseries they’re messy and you’re almost tripping over plants for buying plants as you find more unusual and interesting stuff. For seeds I go online for particular things or just go poundstretcher where they sell Mr fothergills seeds for 50p a pack (or less by mid summer) and cheap onion sets and things like dahlia roots. For bare root plants I often go also, I bought 16 bare root roses for 10p each from there one time as they were getting rid, 11 survived and did well but for 10p I wasn’t bothered so much of just a few survived.
    Tools and some shrubs I just get from my store as I get discount and some of the mid range stuff is actually pretty good whereas things like the high end wooden forks and spades get returned often as they snap.
    Bulbs and corms from work as they have a better selection than other places.

    It’s just a case of shopping round really. Just bear in mind a lot of these chain garden centres the staff are just doing what they’re told though and the gardener’s amongst them often have different views on how they should be run.

  12. Anon

    Also whilst I’m here worth mentioning how we have to smarten the place up for those turds that complain about ropey looking plants.
    We get flowers delivered in full bloom or just about to bloom most of the time. Once they’re done the managers will want them reducing or binning because customers won’t buy them which is heartbreaking when 9 times out of 10 they’re perennials, but we have to have everything looking it’s best as some tit will always go around and spot the one plant out of the 50 others that doesn’t look great then start lecturing us on gardening (like their postage stamp dump of a garden compares to looking after a few thousand plants at a time).

    You get the dumb questions and the cocky attitudes as well as such complaints like this one I had a few weeks back –

    Customer – “the plants are all brown and dying”

    Response in my head – “it’s bloody winter you dense ****!”

    Actual response – “well those trees are decideus, they lose their leaves in winter” – whilst looking around at the grey sky and surrounding denuded vegetation.

    Customer – “well they’re not usually that brown”

    Me – …. (I give up)


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