Best Garden Center (2007)
The Alternative Pond and Gardens Mart, Inc.
500 South County Centerway
South St. Louis County 63129
Sure, gardens are pretty and all, but they’re an awful lot of work: the planting, the pulling, the agony when rabbits help themselves to a meal of hosta con broccoli. Back in 1997 Brigitte and Aaron Burchett tried something different when they began to cultivate a pond — it eventually evolved into an entire water garden. Finding no store in town that supplied the equipment they needed, they opened the Alternative Pond and Gardens Mart, Inc. (commonly known as the Pond Market). Ideas grow everywhere on these fertile grounds in south county: fountains spit water, pumps whir, a step-by-step instructional video plays in the background and elsewhere, a couple of noisy parrots squawk and stretch their wings. Sure, there are the unsexy jugs of sludge-control treatments and clarifiers, but there are also fun flamingo statues, romantic candles and exotic koi ready for purchase (ranging in price from $5 to $300). Large planters outside hold tropical plants with long spikes and broad leaves, water hyacinths and lilies, and just beyond that, U-Haul trucks are lined up, ready and waiting to haul your little slice of watery heaven home.