The first gardening book I purchased was Gardening in Ohio, by Denny McKeowen. During the spring, I pored over its pages nightly in an effort to thoroughly educate myself on my new obsession. I believe I've memorized sections of Denny's educational, yet witty, prose. Quite serendipitously, I purchased a gardening journal also authored by Denny. I took the advice found in both books very seriously. He became a sort of gardening hero figure to me.
While researching where to by an Yves Piaget rose, I discovered that Denny McKeowen has a nursery right here in Cincinnati, Bloomin Garden Centre. I excitedly planned a trip for the next weekend. I imagined acres of greenhouses and rows of plants. As we are nearing the end of the season, I also anticipated great deals. Today, I found none of that. The selection was disappointingly small and the prices were too high. He does seem to carry most of the plants he recommends in Gardening in Ohio, but I've found them elsewhere for less. In fact, I found little to recommend the nursery other than the large number of helpful staff. I didn't buy a thing. I drove home a little disgusted that I had wasted the gas needed to drive to a greenhouse 12 miles away, just to end up buying my plants at the Funke's, right down the street.
The problem with hero worship is that it never lasts once you begin scrutinizing the object of admiration. With the books, a garden center, a landscaping business, and a radio show, Denny seems less the helpful neighbor and more the remote king of a gardening empire. I suppose I shouldn't have put him on a pedestal to begin with. His garden center stinks, but his book is great. In reality, most idols end up having clay feet.