Since I worked for roughly 15 years as a gardener, it’s no surprise that a plant nursery figures prominently in The Forgetting Flower. Renia’s uncle owns a wholesale nursery in the French countryside. I modeled his nursery, Les Racines, in part on a local nursery I’ve shopped at for years. Here are a few photos.
The Wholesale Shopping Experience
Home gardeners sometimes think buying plants wholesale is a sweet perk of being an industry professional. In some ways it is because you get a discount on plants. However, the time it takes to drive around the giant growing operation and gather healthy specimens makes up for the money saved. In other words, it often takes hours. And after those hours, sometimes of frustration, you may not find a quality specimen that meets your standards.
Today, I went with my friend Angela, a container designer, to shop for a client. We were on the hunt for perennials. This is what you look like when you’re examining plants for robust foliage, buds or flowers, pests, or any hint of disease.
In the novel, I describe a sprinkler system somewhat based on the system above. They have an arm of emitters and a long heavy hose. They also move at a steady eerily robotic clip. Oftentimes as I’ve searched for plants, I’ve had to suddenly outrun these sprinkler monsters as they suddenly begin spraying a monsoon of water.
In the book, Renia, not necessarily by choice, has to drive a tractor and trailer combo like this. Workers driving tractor-trailers comb the nursery as workers pick orders and rearrange stock. Plants are sold and added everyday.
While you have dozens of one kind of perennial to choose from, you have to doublecheck every pot to make sure the cultivar you want is the cultivar listed on the price sheet. This takes extra time as well. For instance, today astrantias were listed on the price sheet as being in one field but were actually in a completely different field. So in essence, shoppers often play location detective.
Lastly, while paying for your plants, you never know who you might find atop a copy machine. This was the scene in the office while clients paid for orders and people chatted. This kitty wasn’t terribly interested in any of that and snoozed peacefully instead.