Plant and shrub suppliers may not be going to hell in a handcart, an apt phrase derived from the dumping of the dead in carts during the plague in London in the 1600s, but they seem increasingly to be going to hemp growing, according to people close to the operations of the Village Mercantile. That means at a time when many more people are turning to gardening, a pandemic pastime on the rise, plants are harder not only to keep in stock, but harder to source.

“Hemp and hemp products are increasingly in demand,” said one gardener. “And they must be bringing in more revenue than tomato starts.”

“Business is booming in the garden center, especially as customers can walk around fairly safely and look at what we have,” a villager affirmed. “And right now, demand for geraniums is high,” especially as the La Paloma greenhouse of ARCA, once a local source of geraniums, was forced to close, due to N.M. Department of Health regulations. Its annual late April geranium sale was cancelled, so ARCA apparently gave away or tossed out many plants. “The Merc was not even allowed to pick them up,” said a source with regret.

Trees of Corrales recently delivered about 350 perennials to the Mercantile, including native plants. And a local grower said, “The garden center was slammed, immediately.” Color is prized, “to brighten up yards,” with plants such as impatiens, cosmos and zinnias favored. So are vegetable starts like lettuces, peppers, tomatoes and herbs, along with seeds.

Suppliers in Farmington, Las Cruces and Corrales grow and deliver most of the plants currently sold in the Mercantile, whose employees scramble to get products up, priced and on display before eager gardeners swoop in on them.

But, at least gardeners can access much of what they need. Park your car, put on your mask and stroll, with appropriate distancing, through the outdoor garden center. Place your choices on the table near the door, call the store at 897-9328, give them your credit card information and then await delivery to your vehicle. And should you need or want a comfortable mask, one that carries the Village Mercantile logo, and also contains an inner pocket for a filter, you can order one on the company website. The first batch sold out almost immediately.

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