Tuesday, July 14, 2009

hello & good-bye

My friend Erin came for a visit last weekend, we’ve been good friends for years. Since I moved away from Seattle we manage to see each other several times a year, I look forward to the visits for weeks. I hope you all have friends like her, ones you’ve kept in touch with through thick and thin, ones where when you see each other it's like no time has passed at all.

Our shopping trip on Saturday took us to the NW neighborhood of Portland, home to (among other things) the regions only Smith & Hawken. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that they are closing after 30 years in business. I was surprised to learn that they were purchased by Scott’s, the Miracle-Go people a few years back.

I first saw the Smith & Hawken catalogue when I was a studio apartment dweller in Seattle. I dreamt of one day having a garden and purchasing those fabulous tools and furniture, what a life that would be! On a trip to San Francisco I remember dragging my mother to the store, and when they opened one in Bellevue, WA, I was so thrilled, a location just minutes from my home! But over the years my purchases have never really amounted to much, a container here, a plant there, never an expensive tool or teak furniture, my style ended up not being theirs. Still I loved to go see what was new for the season.

On Saturday the store-closing/bargain-seeking crowd was out full force in Portland. I didn’t even pull my camera out to snap a picture for fear of dropping it, or my handbag, when elbowed by one of these creatures. The funny thing was that the merchandise was only 20% off, hardly frenzy inspiring! I did find a fabulous Aloe that was a must have at under $10. It’s an Aloe vaotsanda x divaricata, or Fire Ranch, and according to the tag it’s hardy to 5 degrees, although don’t know if I trust that.
The aloe is perfect for the smaller container of this s/2 square metal planters that Erin gave me for my birthday! I transplanted a root-bound flax into the larger one…and they look perfect with the apple green rectangle planter (coincidentally from Smith & Hawken) that my friend Julie got us as a wedding gift. Happy planters!
While I will miss Smith & Hawken I can’t help but think that their time had come and gone, unlike a good friendship, which will last forever.


  1. I heard the news about the store closing while out of town, I wondered if there would be some worthwhile bargains. I looked for their website but it was either already gone (that seems crazy) or down temporarily. I wonder if it's all picked over now. I never bought a lot there either, but still will be sorry to see it go. Good pickup on that aloe!
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time with your friend, so nice when friendships stick through all kinds of life changes.

  2. I was pretty surprised to learn the news this week. I read also that they've closed their online store and will sell out the regular store contents by September. I think when Scotts bought S&H that might have been its death-knell. But they went so up-market that I generally only went there to paw over the marked-down plants and at Christmas time for the amazing gift (and self-gift) options. Still, I'll miss those options.

  3. AnonymousJuly 14, 2009

    DG~~ When GI Joes went out of business people were flocking there hoping for a bargain but it was hardly a sale at all. I think it's false advertising to get people all riled up for a sale that isn't. Congress should do something. :) Your containers look fantastic. Good eye!

  4. Megan, I am sure the deals will get better as the weeks go by. Seems they've ceased online selling and are selling everything out of the stores (Jane confirms that fact). The only other thing I wanted was a zinc planter that was $99...maybe I'll check back in a few weeks and see if it's $19.99.

    Jane, oh a self-gift! I like those! Don't we just have the best taste?

    Thanks Grace! You know I remember hearing that about GI Joes...lame!

  5. I read about this while I was in SF, they did quit the web site first although I agree with Megan, that seems nuts. I think I bought an iron hose guard there once but not much else. That kind of shi=shi (sp?) garden store is not my thing. I think they started out with one mission (organic garden supply) and then when they sold the biz (before Scotts-MiracleGro, someone else) they took it "upscale" and lost their base. Scotts had plans to push the brand into big box stores and it didn't work out, so they gave up. I like your aloe, ditto your friendship which has endured (with great gifts to boot!).


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!