Today, the now-expected mini-doc crew (Tyler DePerro, Ben Harrison and Sean Barber) and I hit Bayer’s Garden, that staple of South Side yard enthusiasts. Of mild interest, on that count, is the fact that Jason Bayer, now a co-owner of the two Bayer’s stores after his father’s recent passing, spent a good number of years in the video production business. Working for large cable outlet unnamed here, he worked on everything from 30-second to 30-minute commercials, once casting yours truly in an Insurance Xpress ad that gave me a strange bit of notoriety around town for a few months.
These days, he spends a goodly amount of time at the Imperial branch of the Bayer’s empire, a nine-acre plot that features everything that the landmark Hampton location has on-hand, but in larger supply. Need some rock for your patio? At Hampton, you buy a few bags. At Imperial, you fill the back of your pick-up.
But as a South Sider, himself, it’s easy to get Jason back to the old stomping grounds, especially towards the end of the work day, after he’s driven the company truck back from Jefferson County, loaded with supplies. With the WU crew still on the way, I wandered the shop’s lot with Jason, who was quickly snapped up by a purchaser; she wanted some help picking out zucchini and cucumbers plants. With that situation taken to a pleasing conclusion, we headed just down the block, where his aunt lives. In the back yard was a huge turtle, which she’d wanted for her garden. It had just been delivered, and there it sat in a large, raised, but mostly-empty bed. That turtle was king of the yard, no doubt. With a little prompting, I got the story on the distributors of other oddball lawn statuary, and Jason mentioned that he had a photo of a yard Yeti in his phone, which was true enough. So, if you ever want a Yeti figure for your yard, you know where to go.
You get the distinct sense that the Bayer brothers have fun with their jobs. Having already brought the ghost pepper phenomenon to Saint Louis, they’re now experimenting with the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, the plant that’s surpassed the ghost in pure Scoville units. With luck and his brother Greg’s scientific background coming into play, next year the Scorpion will be for sale at Bayer’s. Not that I’d even consider eating one, but I’d definitely grow a Scorpion, only for bragging purposes. And my yard, it’s true, is already full, full, full of Bayer’s product.
I know how it is: you got to Lowe’s or Home Depot for a can of paint and you walk out with light bulbs, a dimmer switch, a two-by-four and nails. But if you want folks that know a lot about plants to help you through a purchase, be sure to support your local plant shop. It’s just the right thing to do.
Ah, yes, after our shoot, I took the youth to Mom’s Deli, a first visit for all three crew members. One finished his sandwich outright, two saved half for later. All found the experience to be a positive one, even if directions got a bit confused.
Sharing the joys of the South Side, a little bit at a time. It’s what we do. For fun.