Coming up roses

April showers bring May flowers — not to mention weeds, insects, and all the other pesky problems that come with gardening. As spring finally settles in, The Cybercritic’s green thumbs — and fingers — hit the computer keyboard to search for gardening supplies.

  1. The clean, spare home page of CREATEAGARDEN.COM appeals to The Cybercritic’s senses. Or maybe it’s the offer of a free pair of Classic Tool Grip gardening gloves if I spend $75 or more. Createagarden.com’s $5 flat shipping fee is also a selling point — and I’m not even off the home page.

    I click the “Tools” link and find the Tiger Trowel, which promises to be “fierce even in the wildest gardens.” I’ll be the judge of that — but I am drawn to the Tiger’s orange handle. Is $18.95 a good price for a trowel? I don’t know, but I guess I’ll take one.

    The “Garden Essentials” link brings me to several items, including the back-saving Gator Rake. Do all of Createagarden.com’s products have animal names? Just asking. I would like my back saved, thank you, so I grab a Gator. I then peruse the “Gifts” and “Clearance” sections hoping for some bargains. There are only four gifts to choose from, and just three items on the clearance page, so nothing else catches my eye.

    I’m ready to check out now, but where is my shopping basket? I click around until a page with a checkout link comes up, and then I proceed. Hold that Tiger — I need to update the quantities in the basket, as somehow I wound up with two Tiger Trowels. This takes a few tries to figure out, but I finally change it to one trowel and place my order. The only downside is that I have to allow two weeks for delivery from time of order, although Createagarden.com claims it usually gets items out sooner than that. I hope the weeds hold off.

  2. The Cybercritic is intrigued by the name STARNURSERY.COM — a much better moniker than Yardsupply.com, which was apparently the site’s former name. I’m excited by the home page of what appears to be an online gardening superstore, until I try to find out more about the company and realize the fly-out menus at the top of the page are not actually linked to anything.

    That’s so annoying that I almost leave the site, but I really need some weed killer. I find that the “Corporate Info” link at the bottom of the home page does work, so I read more about the company and decide it is legit. I guess that I will forgive Starnursey.com — if the “Pest and Disease Control” link on the left side of the home page actually works. It does, so we are in business. I select a jumbo bottle of Roundup Weed & Grass killer (The Cybercritic’s father swears by it) from the “Herbicide” offerings and jump to “Insecticides” for a big bottle of Sevin Bug Killer. (With this selection, The Cybercritic surpresses an evil cackle — those Japanese beetles trying to infiltrate my roses won’t know what hit ’em!)

    When checking out, I’m pleasantly surprised that the screen promotes Star Nursery’s toll-free order number — most sites seem to hide their phone numbers. Apparently the last thing many Websites want you to do is to call them. Hmmm, $11.35 seems a little steep for ground shipping (Second Day Air is a whopping $30.50) — should I bag it and go to the local garden shop? No. The bugs and weeds will get a brief reprieve while I wait for my poison to arrive.

  3. And now for something completely different: FRENCHGARDENING.COM. This elegant site of L’Atelier Vert — Everything French Gardening carries a fair amount of home decor, kitchen, and gift items in addition to a pretty impressive selection of gardening tools, seeds, and accessories.

So far, The Cybercritic really digs this gardening site, but I do have one complaint about the home page: The fancy script typeface of the menus is hard to read — it might as well be in French.

To give myself a little piece of Paris (or perhaps Provence) at home I decide to shop for seeds. The lush green leaves of the Escarole Cornet de Bordeaux make me hungry, and the copy tells me it’s an easy-to-grow salad. One packet of 1,000 seeds, please. I’m tempted by the vast selection of wildflower seeds, but I click to the herbs instead. Ah oui, lavender — a flower and an herb — and this French strain of “true lavender” promises to be “highly aromatic.” Perhaps The Cybercritic will make fragrant sachets!

I could swear that I added the two packages of seeds to my cart, but when I click on “view shopping cart,” it is empty. I return to the product pages and add them again — guess you have to hit the “buy now” button. Okay, now I’m ready to check out.

When I do check out, I am slightly dismayed that the economy shipping method will take four to six weeks for delivery and priority shipping will take 10 days to two weeks. Perhaps these are coming directly from France (although Frenchgardening.com does have an Indianapolis address as well as a Paris location). Can Le Cybercritic wait more than a month for two petit packs of seeds? Uh, non.

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