My first stop was Home Depot because I always check them out first just in case a new truckload has arrived. No cabbages yet - I can't believe it! But, they had lots of other plants and look at the prices, unbelievable!
Agastache Blue Fortune
5 Gallon Container $12.98
I did not know much about Volcano Phlox, but I am finding out it is a special variety because of its floriforus nature and resistance to mildew. Here is the link giving the history and attributes of Volcano Phlox. http://www.tesselaar.com/plants/volcanophlox/
Sedum Autumn Fire (does not flop)
Heuchera Southern Comfort (can you believe $4.98)
I bought this a few years ago, very lovely, can't see from a few feet away - it's an up close plant!
Huge pots of Millet for $6.98
Just remember the birds will sit in it until it is all gone!
A Wall of Caladiums
These will not hold up in cool weather
This looked like a great daylily for $4.98
Diamond Frost Euphorbia
This is an annual but will hold up to the colder weather $2.98, can be brought in the house to pair with pointsettas.
I bought two great looking perennial Rudbeckia Denver and Sedum Vera Jameson which will make great additions to the planters. I always add some perennials and then in late November winter them over in the veggie garden. So far, I am been very lucky having them take root this late in the season. The cabbage is an ornamental annual, but that's okay because they will last until December if you can leave it alone.
Sedum Vera Jameson
My next stop was a small garden center/nursery near my home. They grow many decorative flowers (pointsettas, lilies, etc) and annuals in their greenhouses, some perennials. I got talking to one of workers that I have known for years and didn't take any pictures. But, guess what - I found the cabbages, big ones, little ones, yeah!
Well, I was really in the mood now to complete my design so onward to the next family owned garden center. This one does not grow any of their plants, but they are knowledgeable and stock high quality materials. This is the center that has their own garden show each year with reps from all the nurseries who supply their center.
Wow! Look at the size of these mums!
I had to have some of this.
I had to have these also.
How spooky - can you see this on top of a pumpkin?
I bought it!
Petunia Black Velvet
They do not hold up to the cool weather.
The pots are still one of the best attractions at this Garden Center.
There are lots more inside.
What I have noticed is that the nurseries and boutique-type garden centers are finally trying to compete with the big box stores. They all order from the same suppliers at this point, Proven Winners, Hampshire Farms, etc. These are automated growers with the planting, watering and fertilization being done by computer.
Home Depot has not bought plants with their own money for the last few years. All of their plants are on consignment with employees from the growers actually working at Home Depot. This way they control their losses and the supplier has a stake in keeping everything in good condition.
My conclusion is that I think there is a place for all of these different types of plant destinations. If you are a seasoned gardener I see no reason why you cannot shop the big garden centers and look for bargains. If you are somewhat knowledgeable shop your garden center and semi-nursery with knowledgeable staff. If you are a beginner start out with a growing nursery where they have a knowledgeable staff, and grow most of their own plant material and understand the requirements for each plant.
One factor that I feel is very important is to ask what is your guarantee? Home Depot offers a 100% guarantee on all of their plants for a year. There are some nurseries that offer no guarantee, some offer 50% and some offer 100% non-advertised guarantee, only if you ask.