Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Went to Johnson's Garden Center on Wisconsin Avenue today

It's just a mile or so away from our planting job and we needed some grass seed and lime as part of the finishing touches. Johnson's is uptown, but definitely in town. I hadn't been there for years but I remembered it as one of the suppliers for my earliest plant obsessions.

The last couple of years before I turned 16 and got my driver's license, I walked a lot, rode my bike, and took buses. A typical all day excursion sent me all the way down Georgia Avenue to the Mall where I'd spend the day at museums. I always went to the Natural History Museum and then to either the National Galley, the Castle, the Freer, or somewhere else. Mid-afternoon I'd start for home by cutting west to Georgetown. I'd make a stop at the Third Day, an interesting storefront plant shop on P Street just off Dupont Circle. They always had something unusal. I continued west to Wisconsin Avenue then north, stopping at what was then the Audubon Bookshop. Great place for anyone with an interest in Nature. I still have a copy of Gray/Fernald purchased when I was 14 and inscribed with a curious loopy handwriting I recognize but couldn't reproduce now. I continued north on Wisconsin eventually reaching Johnson's Garden Center.

Forty-odd years ago the floorplan was configured differently, but I felt the same sense of excitement as I approached the store and, oddly, the old smell of the place came back to me. It smells different now, floristy but different. It's probably all those chemicals that have come off the market!

I recall the anticipation approaching the front of the store where dozens and dozens of flats of 3" house plants were lined up. I loved it because many of those plants were not your ordinary houseplants. I saw my first Crossandra there, my first Zebra plant (Aphelandra), odd Philodendrons and on and on. Every trip there was something cool. I remember buying a 3 gallon Convolvulus cneorum and carrying it the ?7? miles home. It was wonderful all summer but succumbed to the winter. Possibly the beginning of my obsession with Mediterranean plants. I still have a Cissus quadrangularis that I bought there 45 years ago. I was glad to see that curious Alocasia selection today; they still have interesting plants.

No comments: