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  1. What kind of advice are Home Depot's "Certified Nursery Consultants" giving?
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What kind of advice are Home Depot's "Certified Nursery Consultants" giving?

Hd
As an unabashed fan of independent garden centers, I enjoy scoffing at their Big Box competitors - the plants, the heavy-on-the-chemicals products, and worst of all, the gardening advice they give to unwitting customers.  But guess what!  According to this announcement, their garden department staff are now getting some training and becoming "certified".  

The Home Depot’s certification is the real deal. We asked the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to help develop the training program. After the special training, our certified associates have expertise in plant types and how to care for them, landscaping, flowers and ground covers, lawn care, and a lot more.

And we make sure there are always Certified Nursery Consultants on duty in our Lawn and Garden Centers ready to talk with you about your gardening plans or answer your questions.

Our associates (the guys and gals in the orange aprons) really know what they’re doing when it comes to just about any DIY project, and they are pleased to offer how-to instructions, buying recommendations, and even some friendly encouragement on all of your home improvement projects. 

Hmm, that doesn't claim that all their garden-department staff know something about plants, Nashvillejust that there are always people in the department who do.  If you can find one.  Unlike the one who helped my niece, a complete gardening newbie, select the right plants for her Nashville yard, shown here.

Her question was: what to plant along this north side of the house for "instant color".  So she was sent home with petunias - on March 8, a full five weeks before Nashville's last-frost date.  Which petunias would never be very colorful in this sunless spot, no matter the frost date.

I'd have thought pansies were the obvious choice but no, Home Depot said it was too hot for them.  

So, what kind of advice have YOU gotten from Home Depot lately?  I'm dying to know.

THE WEBSITE

Another venue for Home Depot's advice-giving is, of course, their website, which indeed has a whole slew of videos with a guy identified only as "Rick" giving advice.  One example of his advice? "Many experts recommend fertilizing your lawn in late spring, summer, early fall and again in late fall."  Terrible advice.

There's another Rick giving gardening advice for Home Depot, as their gardenblogger. Here's his bio:

I have worked in the Garden Department for past eight years and I’m a Certified Nursery Consultant who worked closely with a Master Gardener for four years. My family were farmers in Minnesota, and being from Minnesota I love the colder weather. Yah, you betcha! I have a private pilot’s license, the two amazing German Shepherds have since past on, but I have acquired a Cairn Terrier (this one must be mixed with a cat somehow!) and a mixed wired terrier (the wire terrier thinks he is German shepherd!) and I love to BBQ and be outdoors.

Wow, he "worked closely with a Master Gardener!"  Maybe you have to BE a Master Gardener, like I am, to know how little that means - someone who attended some classes, passed an open book, take-home test, and did some volunteer work.  Master my ass!  The rest of the stuff, about his dog and love of BBQ, is just insulting to shoppers looking for knowledgeable staffers to help them.

From the "Rick's Picks" blog, I noticed his recommendation that we till our flower beds:

Actual tilling of your flowerbed is an advantageous activity.  Tilling not only helps to remove unwanted weeds but it turns the soil over which helps put oxygen down into the  soil and helps to move nutrients down to the root system.

WTF?  To no one's surprise, he also recommends spray-on color for lawn.

The website also has an Ask the Expert service, but when people send in questions, the person in charge of answering runs over to the community forum to ask participants for help, then posts their answers to the questioner. 

Actually, Home Depot used to have a real expert write for their website, but they inexplicably refused to give her name or cite her credentials.  The expert was no less than horticulturist Erica Glasener, who told me about her curious experience with the giant retailer.   Erica's SO well known and respected, her name alone would have brought new gravitas to HD's whole gardening operation.  

BUT HOME DEPOT'S A BIG STORE
To be fair, I've noticed much improved sales help in HD's other departments lately, and totally love the kitchen designer at the store near me.  Paint department guys, the same.  So, am I being too hard on the garden staff?




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