—The German DIY retailer always manages to capture the obsession and absurdity of being a cultivational cultist, says Craig Redmond.—
Growing up in Hong Kong, the closest thing my wife ever had to a backyard was a balcony. So in her eyes, the bowling lane-skinny backlot of the house we bought in Leaside had the plentitude of Napa Valley. And she immediately staked claim to a parcel of that backyard so she could have her first ever vegetable garden.
Less to mow, I mused, and naively concurred.
That spring we toiled and dug and fenced and hoed and top soiled and seeded and planted and watered. And sweated our asses off for two months. Then we waited.
But between the crows, squirrels and racoons making a daily brunch of our bountiful harvest, and our chocolate lab puppy turning our Eden into her own personal, earthy romper room, we didn’t reap much from what we sowed.
Then came the weeds. Oh, those weeds. It was like weed whacker whack-a-mole. Every time, we pulled out one of those prickly little pricks, another one would instantly rear its ugly head, fiendishly just out of arm’s reach.
It honestly felt like we were all thumbs in the garden. And none of them were green.
Much to my relief, our next home in Vancouver had a backyard that was a raging jungle of flora and foliage, so lush that only trained professionals could give it a haircut every three months. And it offered only a jazz patch of grass that was just big enough to service our dog’s toiletry needs.
My gentleman farmer days were mercifully over.
But despite my conceded ineptitude and burning resentment towards gardening nightmares long past, I continued to watch gardening shows and leaf through the leafy pages of Architectural Digest. I was like the old war vet who lost a leg in battle but continued to feel its phantom itch years later. I didn’t want anything to do with gardening, but remained masochistically fascinated by it.
And it was especially true when spring sprang and big box DIY stores started marketing their garden centres.
That’s why, when I stumbled upon one such chain out of Germany called Hornbach a couple of years ago, I fell absolutely head over Hunter boot heels for its annual rite of spring campaigns. They always seem to capture both the obsession and the absurdity of the global cultivational cult, with a liberal fertilizing of humour.
Most importantly, their ads appease both sides of my own psychological divide that both mocks but then envies those with a gift for gardening.
This latest Hornbach effort brings back those hellish memories of days gone weeding by. That said, I encourage you to watch the other two spots that preceded it as well. Because if you’re anything like me, they’ll give you a much-needed giggle about the horrors of horticultural hell.
And for those of you who can cultivate more than just unwanted weeds, well whoop-de-do for you.
Hornbach Spring 2022
Smell of Spring
Craig Redmond is a creative director in transit.