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Garden Center Memories

I spent today planting some Black Parrot Tulip bulbs I bought from Sprout Home a garden center in Chicago. After my visit there I wrote a review of the garden center on my Garden Rate And Review (this template available read below) blog giving my impression of the garden center and plants they offer.

 I was blown away at the plant selection and friendly staff and the way they used houseplants to decorate the store. Today as I was remembering my visit to this garden center I started to think about the first garden center I ever visited and became a fixture at.

"In 1949, Sherr and Weinberg purchased a vacant lot across the street from the market to house the growing number of plants the market offered. According to Sherr, the greenhouse was opened after a bout with a customer that complained the price of coffee at Frank's Market was too high but then willingly purchased a potted geraniumfor 79¢. The profits on the geranium were much higher than that on the coffee. This incident led Sherr and Weinberg to notice there was to be much more money made selling flowers. Soon after, Frank's Market began selling ferns, trees, lawn chemicals, and other landscaping supplies." -Frank's Nursery & Crafts.

This past summer I was running an errand in a suburb of Chicago when I noticed a familiar building. It was what remained of a Frank's Nursery & Crafts that had been closed since 2004. This nursery was the first nursery I'd ever set foot inside of-I became a customer there during the late 90's when my bonsai obsession was at an all time high. My favorite part of the nursery was the section that housed the houseplants because they sold a variety of "dwarf" plants that were pretty good for terrariums. They weren't actually dwarf plants they were just cuttings that were potted in African Violet pots growing in a green sponge like medium. Really, they were fake dwarfs but they were small and were great for terrariums or as small accent planting to your larger plants.

When I started going there I was in college and living on the far north side of Chicago and would take the bus to the nursery in the dead of winter to get a houseplant fix. I would put on a couple of sweaters and two coats because the suburban bus lines didn't run as often as the buses in the city. Once I'd bought whatever little houseplant that caught my eye I'd tuck it inside my sweater and zip-up the second sweater and two coats and head out and wait for the bus back home. The extra layers of clothing acted as insulation and protected the houseplant from the cold temperatures as I waited for the bus.

I caught myself smiling a lot today thinking about the treks to this nursery to buy plants and the feeling of being somehow victorious when I got a plant for the bottle terrarium I was working on. While my friends and fellow students were out getting into all kinds of trouble I was risking hypothermia because I wanted a houseplant. All of those warm and fuzzy memories quickly vanished when I remembered coming across the remains of the nursery earlier this summer.

At the time I stood there for a few moments looking at the vacant property after I snapped the pictures above. As I stood there thinking about the times I'd gone to a store just like that one I felt like I was paying my last respects to an old friend. Businesses open and close all the time but it feels different when it is business that sold you plants. There is one less place where you can go in and buy the work horses of your garden, one less place on your rounds when you're looking for new houseplants, one less place that contributes to the beautification of the surrounding neighborhood.

Today when I was looking at the photos above getting ready to post them to this entry I was struck by a thought. Notice how in the second photograph the weeds are growing out of the cracks in a specific area? I had to go back and look at the original photo to make sure it wasn't long forgotten plant stock. Are the weeds mimicking the carefully manicured plants that once lined that area waiting for customers that will never come or are they mocking the artifice of a nursery and our gardens?

The blogger template for my Garden Rate And Review blog is a modified version of this template. It isn't anything special or unique in terms of design but if you're not comfortable editing your own template and would like something a little different...

The header allows for 5 page elements, (ads, pictures, text or your blog title)
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Author comments are highlighted. Find a post with comments on it and click the title of the post. Scroll down and notice how on the blog my comments have a blue background to make them stand out.

If you want to use it e-mail me and I'll send you the files or I can upload them somewhere and give you the link on where to down load it to your computer.


  1. Frank's. Oh my. Ours is looking much the same as the one you have pictured. And do you really want to know when I first set foot in Frank's? College, 1974-75, my freshman year. I bought my first houseplants. Killed them soon after, if I remember right. LOL.

  2. Hi Kylee,

    I guess we set foot inside at the same time in our lives just a few years apart.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. What a nostalgia trip, Mr Brown Thumb.
    I don't remember the date, but there used to be two of them along Roosevelt Road in the western burbs - a lot of stuff in my IL gardens came from Franks! Actually, a couple of the daylilies I brought to Texas in 1999 were divisions from plants originally bought at Franks.... guess I'll think of them as souvenirs.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose



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