Favorite Independent Garden Centers

– Posted in: Miscellaneous
Terrain at Home. Courtesy of Garden Media Group
Terrain at Home. Courtesy of Garden Media Group

I thought it would be fun to poll my fellow contributors on GGW to find out what some of their favorite independent garden centers are.  As a disclaimer, this list in no way is meant to imply the ‘best of the best’.  What draws us to these nurseries? Like everything else, we each have our unique taste, plant material or products we are searching out and likes and dislikes. So, here it goes:

Cottage Garden Growers Nursery. Courtesy of Saxon Holt

Cottage Garden Growers Nursery. Courtesy of Saxon Holt

Saxon’s favorites are Cottage Garden Growers Nursery, Western Hills Nursery, Orchard Nursery, and The Dry Garden – all in California.

Bowood Farms. Courtesy of Adam Woodruff

Bowood Farms. Courtesy of Adam Woodruff

Adam’s favorite nurseries are Bowood Farms in St. Louis’ Central West End and Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Adam mentioned that when he’s out in San Francisco, Flora Grubb Gardens is a ‘must’ visit.

indoors-at-black-creek. Courtesy of Nan Ondra

Black Creek Greenhouses. Courtesy of Nancy J. Ondra

Nan’s favorite retail nurseries are Black Creek Greenhouses  in Lancaster County, PA, and Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville, PA. Nan made sure to remind me that she might have a smidgen of bias when it comes to Linden Hill. I wonder why!

Twombly Nursery. Photo courtesy of Steve SilkThis is what Steve e-mailed me earlier today: “My favorite nursery (today anyway) is Twombly Nursery in Monroe, CT. Great place for unusual woody plants, and sometimes super tropicals and annuals. Best of all though is their display garden devoted to plants with winter interest. An inspiring spot this time of year.”

As far as my choices: Let me first say that I have egg on my face. When I visited Terrain At Home for the first time last fall, I gave it a mixed review. If you recall, I promised that I would make another visit sometime before Christmas, which I did. This time around it won me over. It’s an incredibly inspirational destination with products and accessories that I’d be unable to find in any other garden center or nursery in the Philadelphia area.  So, a big thumbs up for Terrain At Home.

Another Philadelphia nursery, which is somewhat of an institution and that I frequent, is Waterloo Gardens. Although I an not an avid fan of Waterloo, it’s a well stocked independent garden center in close enough proximity to me so that when I need something on any given day, I can quickly run over and most times find what I need. As early Spring rolls around, I usually end up purchasing alot of herbs and annual plants: strobilanthes, coleus and sweet potato vines at moderate prices. I still refuse to pay $5.75 for brand name quart sized annual plants that fill their aisles. Talk about prce shopping! When I go to visit Nan in the spring, I can find the same plants at small nurseries near her for $3.75. So much for living on the Main Line.

And finally, for die hard perennial fans who tend to buy in large numbers and are looking for a wide variety of plant material, nothing can beat Russells Gardens, a wholesale and retail nursery that I wrote about in an earlier post.

O.K. We’ve shared some of our faves. Now it’s your turn to let all of us know your favorite nurseries. If you have a photo, send us a link as well as a link for the nursery. And as always, readers will then be able to link back to your site.

By the way, no mail order nurseries are included in this post. That’s for another time!!

PLEASE NOTE: None of us at GGW have received compensation from the nurseries mentioned above in return for a positive mention or review, nor have we ever, nor do we plan to when recommending a product, retail store or service in the future.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
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LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD February 4, 2009, 10:04 am

For the Madison and Dane County WI area: the big local guys are Jungs (100 years old) and the Bruce Company. They’ve got it all. But fave smaller nurseries are Johannsen’s which is right in the city and the Flower Factory just outside town. The first three are open year-round and FF is seasonal. FF are just the best folks: wonderful, broad choices (inc. lots of natives) and beautiful display gardens with a tiny, green-roofed shed, ponds, densely planted oak grove and a children’s play area. Also, any Saturday morning from the end of April to Halloween, the Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Capitol Square is full of small nursery folks with rare and choice varieties for sale. This is the number one market in the nation for size. Offerings must be grown, baked, raised by you — all regional. And tho they are mail order, I must plug the great folks and great plants at Klehm’s Song Sparrow in WI. Nobody better — pricey but worth the quality and their packing is a marvel!

Sounds like a scene from a movie! I love seasonal garden centers…they have a certain quality to them that year round nurseries lack. And the Farmer’s Market with rare and unusual plant varieties for sale is just so specia.. Thanks sfor sharing. Fran

Gail February 4, 2009, 10:34 am

Great question! My favorite is Growild nursery in Fairview, TN…just outside of Nashville on a beautiful tract of land. Specializing in native plants. Very helpful and do they know their plants. You do have to make an appointment to shop; which means no crowds! Twice a year they have open houses with live music, sales and plenty of snacks. (http://www.growildinc.com/). …and now I have a few places to shop in St Louis when I visit this summer! A question…Have you been to Grandpa Jones near the MO Botanical Garden?…no plants, but some really fun garden ornaments. gail

Gail. Thanks for sharing. The shop you mentioned is called Gringo Jones Imports. They have wonderful containers, pottery, wrought iron, one of a kind pieces. Next door is another great shop called The Bug Store. Both are just down the street from the Missouri Botanical Garden.


Benjamin February 4, 2009, 11:36 am

Ambergate Gardens in Chaska, Minnesota. Tons of native perennials for colder, windier zones (and warmer). The place is a clearing on the edge of fields, a pond, and a field. Just gobs of plants everywhere on the ground, broken down vans, a party tent for potting, and a big old lazy yellow lab stalking the guests. LOVELY owners, lovely way to start a day.

Sounds too good to be for real! Broken down vans and a party tent for potting plus tons of native perennials ensconced in nature? When can I come and visit?? Fran

jodi February 4, 2009, 12:25 pm

My favourites are mostly on my blog as links: Baldwin Nurseries in Falmouth, Bunchberry Nurseries in Upper Clements, Ouestville Perennials in West Pubnico, Briar Patch in Berwick, Woodlands and Meadows in Truro. One favourite is Hillendale, and Lloyd DOESN’T have a website. He sells 2-3 year old perennials in 1-2 gallon pots, usually for about 9 bucks a pot; the plants settle in and grow well and I don’t think I’ve ever lost one.
All these nurseries are family owned by people who love plants and who have worked with them for a long time. They don’t sell a lot of made-in-China crapola, mostly just plants, some potting supplies, maybe some pots. I have abandoned one large locally owned nursery because it’s become fixated on making quick bucks and not so much supporting the local economy–instead of buying plants from local wholesalers they’re bringing everything in from elsewhere. So they don’t get my gardening bucks any more.

Isn’t it refreshing to find those folks who grow plants because they love them so much and want to turn others onto them? $9. per plant for a 2-3 year old perennial sounds like a great deal to me! Thanks for sharing. Fran

Eleanor at OutOfDoors February 4, 2009, 1:36 pm

This is a great call! I think it’s really important to advertise and support these great resources. Someday soon I’ll do a post on the native resources we have in California, but for now I’d like to give a shout out to Seaside Gardens. Good people, good plants, and sexy demonstration gardens…what more could you want?

How divine and relaxing it was to take that stroll with you through Seaside. Love the focal point of the obelisk and the calmness and yet intriguing quality that the landscape offered. Beautifully written article by you! Fran

Gayle Madwin February 4, 2009, 1:49 pm

My favorite for shopping in person is Floral Native Nursery in Chico, CA, just because it’s the only nursery for 50 miles around where I’ve been able to find a decent selection of native plants. Though I must say, I always find it somewhat disturbing to see the rows and rows of poison oak they have for sale.

My favorite for shopping online would have to be Annie’s Annuals & Perennials in Richmond, CA.

Jean February 4, 2009, 6:34 pm

Although I moved away from Austin over 4 years ago, my hands down favorite is still Barton Springs Nursery (http://www.bartonspringsnursery.net/). I can never find what I want in north Louisiana so I still make time to shop at B.S. Nursery whenever I’m in Austin. They have a wide selection of native and adaptable plants and the folks who work there have been there a long time and actually know a thing or two! (One of my pet peeves with a lot of nurseries is the paucity of employees who know anything at all about plants.)

It looks like a terrific nursery. Couldn’t agree more about having a good selection of native plants as well as knowledgeable employees. Thanks for adding this one to the list! Fran

Frances February 4, 2009, 7:08 pm

Hi Fran, this is great. I have a favorite local spot that I have been wanting to post about, Mouse Creek Nursery. I will work on getting a post up next week.

Great Frances. Will look forward to reading about it. Send the link over here so we can have readers link onto your story. Love the name ‘Mouse Creek’! Fran

Anna/Flowergardengirl February 5, 2009, 1:04 am

OH, I like this…I’ll work on it!

Please do! We’d love to get your opinions! Fran

Frances February 5, 2009, 9:23 am

Hi Fran, my post is up.

http://fairegarden.wordpress.com/. Frances

Loved it. What a great nursery with such an abundance of beautiful, healthy plant material! And as interesting was the story of that little church with all of the wedding photos. Thanks so much for sharing. It was heart warming. Fran

Sweet Bay February 5, 2009, 10:57 am

I LOVE this idea for a neme — off to work on it too!

Great Sweet Bay….will wait to see what you do! Fran

Greg W February 5, 2009, 11:46 am

One of my favorite garden centers is right here in Utah, J&J Garden Center http://www.jjnursery.com/
They have a very extensive selection of everything to grow in your garden.

There’s a virtual tour on the website.

Wow Greg-
Thanks for this one. Just by the mere fact that they have 111 different perennials is pretty impressive. A very, very full service garden center offering such a variety of products. Fran

inadvertentfarmer February 5, 2009, 4:34 pm

I love our local nursery…they have the greatest pots, and specialize in bonzia! There fruit tree selection is the best in the area by far, as is rhododenron and azaleas, camilias, and all things Pacific Northwest!

Inadvertent Farmer-
Sounds great. Do you have a name and a website for this nursery?? Fran

Mr. McGregor's Daughter February 5, 2009, 7:27 pm

I did a post about my favorite local nursery last June: http://mcgregorsdaughter.blogspot.com/2008/06/best-garden-center-in-chicagoland.html.
It’s The Growing Place in Naperville, IL. I’m hoping to work in a visit there for Spring Fling.

Hmmm….looks like a divine place. Thanks for reminding us about it! Wish I could go with you one time. Has Oudolf’s planting scheme in the Lurie Garden in Chicago effected the way gardeners are now designing their own gardens?? Fran

Pam/Digging February 5, 2009, 11:35 pm

I like your disclosure notice at the bottom of your post. I’m going to put something like that permanently on my blog, I think.

We’re blessed with a number of very good independent nurseries in Austin, and I list them in my sidebar. But my two absolute favorites, which I’ve posted about in the past, are Barton Springs Nursery and The Natural Gardener.

I remember your post on Barton Springs Nursery and when getting on to re-read it thought to myself that this may be one of the most compelling nurseries that I have yet read about. Love the wooden pergolas used to protect plants, the casual ambience, the plethora of plant material (how much are those agaves being sold?) and just the entire scne. Natural Gardener looks pretty darn good as well. Our nurseries are so…..different in the Northeast!
And it was thanks to your post that I decided to add this disclosure. I was stunned by what you wrote (guess I shouldn’t have been) and want to make sure that our audience is aware of our procedures on GGW. I am reading your blog, although I don’t write comments, and am observing with anticipation all of the changes will you be making in your new garden!! Fran

Pam/Digging February 6, 2009, 2:16 pm

Thanks, Fran. If you’re ever in Austin, I’ll be happy to take you for a visit to BSN and NG. As for the agaves that you asked about, they range in price from around $20 on up. The nursery propagates many of them, which helps to keep prices reasonable.

Great price for the agaves….how I love them. And thanks for the offer. Am not planning a trip to your neck of the woods in the near future but if I ever do, you’re on!! fran

Liisa February 8, 2009, 9:38 am

Hidden in the hills of rural Vermont, one can get lost in the gardens of Cady’s Falls Nursery http://www.cadysfallsnursery.com/Welcome.html
They have a magnificent collection of conifers, perennials, and shrubs at magnificent prices, to boot!

Thanks for turning us onto Cadys Fall Nursery. Just the photo on their home page along with the description of what they do compelled me to continue clicking to read more.
How beautiful and wonderful to see folks who are operating their nursery,
“the old fashioned way”. Fran

Sweet Bay February 10, 2009, 1:09 am

Just finished a post about my favorite local nursery — Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill. It’s a very special place.

Thanks for your comments. Here’s a link to your site, http://sweetbay103.blogspot.com/, so that our readers can learn about Niche Garden. Fran

Dee/reddirtramblings February 16, 2009, 5:56 pm

I love this topic. My all time favorite for now and probably long into the future is Bustani Plant Farm. I did a post on it when we visited last year: http://reddirtramblings.com/?p=337. Steve Owens and his wife have created a wonderful place with heat loving tropicals, natives and other plants which do great in Oklahoma. I’ll be touring it in May and showing some of the behind the scenes stuff. Great topic.~~Dee

Thanks for sharing your link and story. Love the information and photo that they offer with their plants. It’s fabulous that Bustani Plant Farm offers such wonderful plant material Will be looking forward to reading more about it after you’ve visited again! Fran

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