Most of the time I am glad to be in the horticultural industry. But there are times when I wish I either had nothing to do with it or that I was a lawyer.
To make it clear, what follows is my opinion, based on my observations and experiences.
The reason for this rant was a gardening mag I received the other day with a DPS (double page spread) for Bakker. This Dutch company with tentacles in Spalding UK and possibly in the USA under other names produces colourful catalogues and sells a wide range of plants and bulbs. I have not ordered anything from them for many decades. I would suggest that you would get better value if you ordered from a company with catalogues with more realistic representations of their wares.
Photoshop (R) is a marvellous tool. It can make you look younger, you can add bits of images to others and do all sorts of useful things. On this blog I do not manipulate any of the images, partly to save time since I am so cranky at Photoshop but mostly because I want the blog to be real and helpful.
Many years ago when I was working for the RHS Journal we used to publish ‘plates’ of flowers. This was a lot of work. We had to set up an outside ‘studio’ at a garden that had all the flowers, pick and arrange them on a background and then, if two plates were needed, we had to make sure the colour saturation was the same on both. Now it would be so easy. The plants could be photographed on different days individually, cutout and ‘placed’ on a background, turned and resized to fit and colours changed. So this manipulation is enormously useful.
But I was incensed when I saw this advert! I do not have a problem with the bulbs, or even the price of the bulbs since this is an expensive tulip – though it does not state the bulb size which would be useful.
What really gets my goat is that birdhouse planter. What a great offer – you get that great planter and bird house free when you buy just 8 tulip bulbs for £15.28 (yes there is postage on top). You get extra free bulbs – this is only a guess but I would suspect that the majority of them are anemone, allium moly or muscari – could be wrong but I won’t be ordering to find out.
So let’s look at this illustration in more detail. I have cropped the image below at the edges of the ‘tub’ so the width of the image represents 18cm. Look at that little bird cheekily viewing that potential home. Well, it looks like a house sparrow to me. But wait – the bird is less than a fifth of the width of the image. So the bird must be only one fifth of 18cm long – that’s about 35mm long! A house sparrow is 16cm long from tip to tail so it can’t be a sparrow. I checked and according to the Guinness Book of Records, the smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) from Cuba and the Isle of Youth (I must go there) and that is 57mm long. So it can’t be a bird then. Maybe it is an insect that has evolved to look like a bird. Whatever the bird is, a sparrow will not be nesting in that box since the hole is less than 3cm across. That is too small for a house sparrow though it may be OK for a blue tit. Of course it may have to back into the hole since there will not be much room to turn round once it is inside. We will dispense with the fact that, since the whole structure is only 30cm high any bird small enough and foolish enough to try to make this home will probably be eaten by cats or, at that height, by worms!
So what about those flowers? We have a breathtaking display of tulips, lilies, hippeastrums, daffodils and chrysanthemums – no leaves of course. With the odd rose thrown in. I do hope Bakker also sell these lovely flowers. Daffodils the size of hippeastrum or is that hippeastrum the size of daffodils. I am confused. Along the width of the tub are three hippeastrum and two lily flowers. In a tub 18cm wide? Er – that makes then about 3cm or just over an inch across. And what about stems?
Now I know that Bakker will argue that these images of flowers and bird are ‘for illustrative purposes only’ and that is their reason for manipulating the image.
But this is just not good enough. Calling it misleading is not even the beginning. It is my opinion that the illustration is ‘composed’ deliberately to mislead the buyer into thinking this ‘gift’ is much larger than it really is. I accept that the measurements are clearly stated beside it but that is not the point. If you bought a pack of 4 burgers with a ‘photo’ of ten on the front – or with a child holding one and the burger was enlarged to deliberately give the impression that the burgers were twice the real size there would be an enquiry.
Bakker, among others, have been getting away with this for years so I don’t expect anything to be done any time soon. Just please – don’t get caught out by this lot.
If you do order you have been warned and remember – they will know where you live. And they may make money selling the data to someone else. Make sure you tick the box to prevent it.
Out of interest, Parkers seems to be the cheapest supplier in the UK – just – with a pack of free pinks but this may vary. At least they also state the bulb size too.