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Raleigh nursery gets backlash from catalog cover

Posted February 23, 2012
Updated February 24, 2012

— The owner of a Raleigh nursery said he has gotten hundreds of complaints because of a satirical catalog cover. 

The artwork, which is also featured on the Plant Delights website, has company owner Tony Avent in the cross-hairs of Penn State University alums. 

Avent said the cover is a satire on current events, like GOP presidential candidates and the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. Avent said they decided this year to go with a "Wizard of Oz" theme. 

"Michelle Bachmann became Dorothy. Joe Paterno, the straw man or scarecrow, and, of course, the Cowardly Lion, Sandusky," Avent said. 

Peggy Nickola is among hundreds of people connected to Penn State who were not amused by the artwork. Her husband and son graduated from the school.

"We as Penn State fans feel like we've been through enough this fall and winter," Nickola said. "We're seeing supposedly an advertisement for pretty plants that is exploiting little children. That was very hurtful to us." 

Avent and his employees have been spending time defending the artwork, which he said is designed to promote critical thinking.

"Our employees are certainly not enjoying it. We're trying to keep them employed and keep them in a job, and all they do is get these bizarre calls and emails all day," he said. 

plant delights Raleigh nursery gets backlash from artwork

Avent admits he has taken down more than 300 negative comments, many of them from Penn State alums, from the nursery's Facebook page. 

"I think he made a mistake, and I think when people make a mistake, they should apologize," Nickola said. 

Avent said he stands by the artwork.

"That's what we do. That's what we've done for years," he said.

The catalog was sent out in December, but Penn State alums only recently became aware of it.

Avent says he is preparing for an open house and gearing up for a busy time of year. He's not sure how the criticism will affect his business moving forward.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • NCSULandscaper Feb 24, 2012

    I will continue purchasing here just because there wont be any whining offended people in my way when i pick my plants up

  • Hammerhead Feb 24, 2012

    Joking about child molestation is thinking, ncteacher? Nice.

  • Hammerhead Feb 24, 2012

    uday, thanks, I was getting wet. Jont, let's try this again. Child molestation is a very sensitive subject to some people, I can sympathize with them. I don't care about the cartoon, but I can see why it would be very upsetting to some. Therefore, I wouldn't joke about it.
    Dismissing child molestation jokes as trivial, or upsetting because of PCness is pure horse manure. Dare I say if your child were ever molested, you'd have a vastly different opinion. I'll stand by that. Like I said earlier, the venom spewed over something like college basketball shows that everyone can be sensitive to something, even if it is as trivial as sports.

  • drnc Feb 24, 2012

    Ask yourself what would be said if these images were on the cover of a Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly newsletter? Political correctness slices both ways, oddly no one seems to mind as long as it cuts left.

  • yy_heart Feb 24, 2012

    its worse than just that - they have Obama as a crow!

  • ncteacher22 Feb 24, 2012

    Keep up the good work Tony! I love it when people get their politically correct feelings bothered. It's called "thinking"!

  • jont7465 Feb 24, 2012

    Lets try this again...People are getting upset over a trivial magazine cover. It's satire....get some thicker skin and get a grip people. The cover is poking fun at several news worthy subjects. Get a grip.

  • storchheim Feb 24, 2012

    Come to think of it, I boycott Clairol as well for their commercials showing women in the shower howling "Ye-esss! YEEE-ESSSS!". I boycott Godiva chocolates for their depictions of women using chocolate as a substitute for sex. I don't buy any food products where the ad shows a woman sucking her finger naughtily while gazing into the camera. There's a new ad out for some type of Chevy that's basically nothing but two women giggling like silly twits. That's off the table too. Heck, the last movie I saw was a foreign film festival because Hollywood mostly churns out roles for stupid, helpless, sex objects.

    I haven't seen the Doritos commercial but sounds like I wouldn't like it. Too many people are cruel to animals as it is.

    We've all got our sore spots. Don't buy from him if it offends you. PS. When my alma mater gave Mary Easley that 6-figure, don't-even-show-up job, I was ashamed too. It happens.

  • udaycoosay Feb 24, 2012

    Hammerhead - get out of the showers.

  • jont7465 Feb 24, 2012

    WOW.....Get a grip people. This country has become the land of political correctness.