The truck was parked in front of the Chelsea Garden Center on Van Brunt Street, and emblazoned “Sunset Liberty Garden Center.” An arrow pointed potential flower-buyers down Van Dyke Street — and away from the Chelsea Garden Center, which was as open as a tulip.
Obviously, in Red Hook where the local bartender can’t move a horseshoe pit without someone objecting, Sunset Liberty’s strategically placed ad truck didn’t go unnoticed.
People passing by snickered at the war of the roses.
The petunias bloomed, and sold briskly at both Chelsea Garden Center and around the corner at Sunset Liberty.
Sunset Liberty owner Sandor Gubis — a forthright man with a self-described passion for “tropical plants and girls, but the plants don’t fight back” — says he had no choice but to park the truck directly in front of his nearest competition.
“Where else is there to park?” he said, smiling. Then he added something devious about his competition. “[They’re] an invasive species.”
The term refers to a non-native plants that are introduced by humans where they doesn’t exist naturally, thereby disturbing the normal circle of life. Bamboo, Chinese Wisteria and Ribbon Grass — a wild grass that has achieved a certain ubiquity on well-tended lawns around the borough — are invasive. Gubis sells bamboo — but only with a metal-lined container to insure that the fast-growing roots don’t touch soil — but he doesn’t sell others.
Those are sold at Chelsea, where no such ideological bans exist.
“We don’t think of [species] as invasive, as much as beautiful,” said Rose DiCostanzo, adding that her garden center is “into beauty and class” and not politics.
DiCostanzo wouldn’t comment on Sunset’s parking job, saying only that she wasn’t “bothered” by it.
Maybe she has a point. After all, there is plenty of green to be made on all this greenery. Especially in Red Hook, where fresh flowers could sweeten up the neighborhood’s usual summer scent, eau du sewage.
Indeed, even when Gubis is parking his truck in front of his competitor, his workers are doing the opposite.
“We end up referring a lot of customers to Chelsea because we just won’t sell certain plants,” said Hope Kaufman, the landscape architect who runs Gubis’s store.
Hang up on the call: Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Cobble Hill) has introduced a bill to restrict politicians from using prerecorded “robo-calls” to campaign. Now, if we could only get a bill that would stop real people from calling with their canned spiels. …
“What Happened to Smith” goes live: Life in a Blender, the band that made Smith Street into pop legend (sort of) is playing the Living Room on the Lower East Side on June 2. How about a show at the Fall Café? …
Speaking of Smith: We hear an eight-story apartment building designed by the don of the glassy, mezzanine-condo, Robert Scarano, is due on the corner of Second Place. The neighbors are already up in arms.
©2007 Community News Group
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