I've said before that people in Milan are, in general, not very aware of the quality - or lack of it - of the plants they buy. You see people happily loading their supermarket trolleys with plants that are half dead from lack of water, or which have more yellow leaves underneath than green ones on top. In garden centres, where the quality is better, they'll go for the plants with the most flowers already in full bloom or right at the front of the display. Ideal clients, obviously, for anyone looking to rip off their customers.
So it made me extremely happy yesterday to find someone that refused the opportunity. We were invited to lunch with some friends who we'd not seen for a while, and I'd decided to get each of them a pot plant as a late Christmas present. So yesterday morning, just before we were due to leave, I went round to our local garden centre - only to find it closed. Being Sunday, absolutely no other shops in the neighbourhood were open, and so I found myself stuck without a present.
Then I remembered a flower kiosk some way away, which usually had container plants as well as cut flowers. Although I must have passed it several times a month for the last fifteen years, I'd never actually bought anything there, but I thought it was worth going to see if it was open. It was, but the only plants they had were two pots of cyclamen, very clearly the worse for wear. I said to the man " I really wanted a couple of plants like those ..." intending to go on to say "but unless you've got anything of a bit better quality, I'll have cut flowers." However, I didn't get the chance. He interrupted me immediately saying, "No, I won't sell you those. They've been overwatered and they're not worth the money." I looked at him somewhat amazed, said that I'd realised, complimented him on his honesty, and then chose the cut flowers which I wanted. At which point he said that if I thought I could nurse the cyclamen back to health he'd give them to me, as he had no intention of selling them. Wow - they weren't that far gone. So I staggered home with two pots of cyclamen, two bouquets of flowers and with my faith in human nature restored. Not that he's lost out of course - he's just won himself a new regular customer.
PS. Talking of being nice to people - if there is someone whose blog you regularly read and enjoy, show your appreciation by nominating one of their posts for the next Garden Bloggers' Carnival. It's a great way to say thank you. Nominations are starting to come in, but there's room for plenty more. Follow the link for more information.