I came upon this shopping cart planter the other day while riding my bike along College Street here in Toronto. The planter sits outside a restaurant located at the corner of College and Clinton, perched up high atop a metal outdoor patio fence.
There is a tiny anal-retentive person living inside my brain that REALLY, REALLY longs to remove that dead strawberry leaf. Fighting. Urge.
What I love about it is that it is such an affront to the typical planter box. I’m a firm believer that anything that can hold soil can function as a container. And if it can’t hold soil, with a little innovation it can most likely be made to. In this case the designer simply used the basket of the cart like a wire hanging basket, lining it with burlap to allow drainage but also keep soil in. The planter is deep enough to house some pretty deep roots so really the only challenge comes in keeping the soil consistently moist. We’ve had a very forgiving wet and cool season so far which is why those violas are holding up so well into the month of July. In addition to the violas they’ve included some other edibles including strawberries, mint, Vietnamese coriander aka ‘Rau Ram’, nasturtium, rosemary and thyme.
The planter is great, but I’m most in love with their sign… I just can’t figure out the logistics involved in urinating in a planter box that high up. Given what I have experienced with my own public garden I can believe that anything is possible and that some people will go to acrobatic feats to make the impossible possible. But still… how do they do it? And what’s more bewildering, why?
So here’s what I did. First, I shelled out $3.99 for a viola. We’re not talking your typical 4-pack of cells for a buck here. No, we’re talking one plant. One plant that cost $3.99. One plant whose tag bragged its rareness and specialness and three dollars and ninety nine cents worthiness. There was also something about how the variety was popular 150 years ago. There was other information too but I didn’t get that far. I was sold at “popular over 150 years ago.” Because if it was popular 150 years ago then by gum that is a plant I have got to grow! I could care less about the botanical trends of the day, but the plants trends of yesteryear, I’m all over it. Next I’ll be up on the popular plants grown 200 years ago! 250! When I eventually learn the Latin names of plants listed in the 16th-century Aztec Codex there will be no stopping me!
In truth, I was also sold at “pretty flower” and “Psst. Hey you sucker. Here’s an over-priced flower you’re sure to want. Buy me!”
Not surprisingly the rare and popular one hundred and fifty year old, costing three dollars and ninety nine cents viola was found next to the wildly expensive $18.99 echeveria. This particular region of the garden centre forever to be known as the place to be avoided and the place where they put the fancy expensive shit that suckers like me are sure to buy.
So… skip ahead to the waiting in line and the exchange of money. All that time I had in which to reconsider the purchase but I went ahead anyways. Next, I placed the Most Expensive Viola There Ever Was into my bike basket along with several other plants. And somewhere between a long and precarious downhill bike ride balancing an overflowing bag on my left shoulder and a basket full of plants with my right arm, the tag came loose and sailed away never to be seen again. I have spent the last hour fruitlessly Googling search terms such as “rare pansy”, “150 year old viola variety”, “wildly expensive violas purchased by total suckers” and other search terms with no luck of unearthing the name of this plant. I’d let it go if this were your average dollar viola. However, since I paid three dollars above market value for this sucker I have got to know its name! For that kind of dough I want to be able to cuddle, hold hands, and watch movies with this thing. Without the formality there will be no opportunity to get better acquainted. How will we bond when there are only nicknames and pseudonyms between us?
In looking around the flowers look a lot like the ‘Terra Cotta’ viola but I’m just not sure. Any guesses? I will happily send a couple of big buttons to the reader who can identify this variety and end my suffering.
Update: I went back to the store this afternoon and they were all gone and the main person wasn’t there so I wasn’t even able to find out the name of the grower. To be continued….
I came up with this idea while on assignment for Budget Living magazine. The idea was approved but sadly the magazine folded shortly thereafter and I was never able to see this concept to fruition.
The editor had asked me to come up with something for wedding season, a request that kind of made me laugh inside at the time because here is where I admit something that will either horrify and alienate a percentage of my readers and/or limit my future potential revenue stream: I don’t care for weddings.
I know they’re really just big, fancy parties but even big, fancy parties are a bit too ostentatious for my taste. I like to have fun, just not when that fun comes at the expense of truly enjoying myself or you know, spending money I don’t have. And the pressure. Weddings are so rife with pressure. The warnings are numerous. This is the most important day of your life, they scream. So it HAD BETTER be perfect! I’ve experienced a lot of drama at weddings over this false premise. During my one and only (never AGAIN) poorly executed maid-of-honor appointment I had to talk the bride off several proverbial ledges over what I thought were inconsequential details like, say, the colour of the fabric that the ring pillow would be made from. It HAD to match perfectly, don’t you see? Except the thing is, it did match perfectly.