Need Your Point of View Please!!

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

What is lacking at your local garden center?
If you had a garden center, what would it be like?
Would love your opinons, advise and comments,
on your favorite palce's to purchase from.
What makes it SO special or NOT so special????

because ,,,,,,,
I hope to open a retail Garden Center specializing
in perennials for butterfly & hummingbird gardens one day!

Your point of view would be greatly appreciated! Picture's too!

Happy Gardening,

Vancleave, MS(Zone 8b)

Donna our Garden centers are pitiful. There is only Lowes, Home Depot and Wal Mart. Once in a while you can find something good for the butterflies. Nursery/Garden Centers I think avoid plants that attract butterflies, especially the host plants. They don't want cats chewing them up thinking people won't buy them. I have fussed at the Lowes Garden Center for years asking for butterfly plants. It did no good. My favorite Nursery is 1 1/2 hours away in Loxley. Also Kay took me to one in Lumberton that had a pretty good selection but some prices were kind of high

Where I live, the invasive plants issue has gotten a little out of control. We have homeowner associations popping up all over the place that provide us with lists of what we can plant because so many nurseries are selling plants that are easy money but anything but environmentally friendly. Some nurseries are really helpful in that they maintain lists for each HO Association so when you walk in the front doors, you can just pick up a list. That's nice. I think they got the idea from the WalMarts and K-Marts around here that provide school lists for students in August based on which school kids attend. Lists for HO Associations would be nice.

For once, I'd like to go to a nursery and not find plants such as the Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), Bachelor Buttons (Centaurea cyanus), Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica), and English Ivy (Hedera Helix) being promoted. I only mention these because they just popped up in another thread. All of these are exotic invasive species and there are nurseries and websites still pushing them.

There's a nursery out west that does a great job discussing the issues and they get a tremendous amount of business because the plants they offer for sale are thoroughly researched. You might want to take a look at this nursery's website-
They haul in a tremendous amount of business because they are virtually a stand alone in that they don't offer exotic invasives and people know they can shop there with confidence and not worry about having to dig up a plant at a later date hence losing their initial monetary outlay.

I'd like to see great photos of plants being offered for sale. I'd love photos of cats munching on the leaves. That's what cats do, they devour plants.

Thumbnail by Equilibrium

Forgot to mention that I'd also like to see lists of which species plants attract as well as other relevant information. Example from Cornell-

Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Deciduous vine.
Season: Fall fruiting, winter persistent fruit.
Description: Tree-climbing vine with brilliant scarlet foliage in autumn. Important food plant for many bird species.
Food type: Fruit.
Attracts: Robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, Wild Turkey, vireos, warblers, Pileated Woodpecker, many others.
Also provides: Nest sites, cover.

Something else I've noticed that might create a niche for you is that most people who are interested in butterflies and hummers are also interested in Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) as well as birds in general. Since your focus is going to be on nectaring perennial plants for butterflies and Hummers, why not toss in perennial fruiting plants for birds in general as that might broaden the species you will be offering in that migrating birds have a need for fruiting species.
Excerpt from this website on fruiting species-
Fruiting plants can be classified into three based on the time the fruit is available and the type of fruit; summer fruiting species, fall high-quality fruiting species, and fall low quality fruiting species (sometime referred to as winter fruits). Summer fruiting species usually surround the seeds with berries high in carbohydrates and time fruiting so that it occurs late in summer when insects are less numerous. These fruits are usually eaten by mammals or resident birds, not migrators, and are dispersed within the same general area. Many of these plants produce small seeds inside of a relatively large fruit (think about strawberries or raspberries) so that the seeds are too small to be a food source for seed-eating mammals and birds.

Fall high-quality fruiting species produce fruits that are rich in lipids; these fruits usually do not taste sweet. Lipids provide more calories per gram than carbohydrates ; these fruits are usually eaten by migrating birds, and may be carried long distances since they ripen just before the fall migration. These fruits are not attractive to mammals. Because lipids decompose rapidly, any fruits which are not taken by birds tend to rot and fall off the parent plant, so that they are not available during the winter. in contrast, low-quality fall fruits have a low lipid content, and hence little nutritive value, but are decay-resistant. They are not eaten by birds in the fall when high-quality fruits are available and remain on the plants until winter. these fruits are an important food source for resident birds in the winter when other foods are scarce and during the spring return migration.

My favorite local nursery is no longer in business. He was a small cottage business and he passed away many years ago and his kids had no interest in taking it over but they were interested in selling the land which is now a nice strip mall. He enjoyed a good professional reputation in the community and one of the things that endeared me to him was when he placed a store bought "butterfly house" on display and wrote on a little piece of paper, "Don't buy this. It's a gimmick. The Butterflies won't use it but European Paper Wasps and Asian Lady Beetles will." He provided photos of the insides of the mass marketed butterfly houses that were over run with everything but butterflies. I about fell over laughing. He also provided pamphlets to local nature centers as well as pamphlets to local chapters of the Sierra Club, Wild Ones, and Audubon. I once asked him about that and he indicated that many plant sales were as a direct result of having worked with those organizations when starting up. He said they really pushed his nursery. And they did.

Lemme think here, he had a kid friendly area set up with butterfly kits that sold like hot cakes. He also sold bug boxes and passed out information on how to create home made bug boxes. The bug boxes also sold well- who has time to make bug boxes these days? Parents brought their children to his little nursery because he provided a little area with a table and chairs just for them while they shopped. He also sold binnoculars and magnifying glasses and offered a small seleciton of wildlife gardening books which people did buy.

He steered clear of pretty much all gardeing tools and such as there's no way to compete with the big box stores in that arena but he did offer base line products such as "Safers Insecticidal Soap" and a few other quality products that aren't regularly carried in the inventories of the larger nurseries.

Come to think of it, he offered a few water features, birdbaths, and other concrete statuary. I bought one so I happen to know they were from Henri Studios. He priced them out and intermixed them with the plants he was offering for sale. Really made his offerings stand out. That's how he sold his Hummingbird feeders and birdhouses too. They hung above plants being offered for sale. Great utilization of space.

From time to time I am contacted by nurseries to use photos I have taken of plants. I'm not too good with a camera as I always shoot point and click but every once in a while I do get decent photos. If the nursery is responsible, I let them use my images for no charge. Not that you'd want anything I have but I bet your fellow DGers would share their photos with you for no charge. We have some rather accomplished photographers out there and sarahskeeper comes to mind but there are others.

My favortie nurseries to purchase plants are all online now. I long ago lost the nursery I loved so I suppose having a good website and mail order is going to be critical mass these days.

You know something, I am really excited for you and I truly hope you pursue your dream. I could sure use a good butterfly and hummingbird nursery.

Vancleave, MS(Zone 8b)

oh and larval host plants are a must. The butterflies won't stay around just for nectar plants. Their goal is to find host plants to reproduce

Toone, TN(Zone 7a)

Facinating thread, Donna. Wishing you the best of luck with your new endevour. How very exciting! Will definately support you once you get your inventory online. And what a thoughtful post Equilibrium!

Donna, I'm always pleased to be provided with the tiniest bit of information on each specific plant. Alot of nurseries do't even indicate if its for sun or shade. What's really great is if the nursery has reference material on hand, so you can look up details about watering requirements, soil preferences and so forth. Even companion planting recommendations would be nice. And of course lots of pictures!

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

You gal's just rock!!!
Just what I was wanting to hear, please keep those commets coming!
I'm trying to putting together a reference catalog/journal/display card with pictures of plants with all growing info along with wildlife attractor's. There's only one problem I DO-NOT have pictures!
If you would like to share your photo's for my cause, it would GREATLY be appreciated. You may send them to [email protected]

Thanks a MILLION!!!!!!
Donna V

Vancleave, MS(Zone 8b)

Donna let me know what pics you are looking for I and I will gladly share what I have. I have company coming in later in the week so will probably be next week. Send me a reminder lol. I get CRS bad

Las Cruces, NM(Zone 8a)

Donna, I just wanted to reinforce what others have said about providing photos and info for the plants. I love to shop at nurseries that have each plant marked with name, growing conditions, and price. Photos of blooms to come would be fabulous!

We had a craft business for many years and I learned the benefits of making small signs to explain our products to browsing customers. It absolutely increases sales, and makes their shopping experience more fun. They'll even grab the elbow of a friend and read your signs out loud to each other. A trick is to insert a little humor at times, it ensures folks will point it out to others!

My signs had to be dirt-proof and weather resistant for outdoor shows. I usually just did signs on my computer and printed them out on regular paper, but hand-lettered signs would be cool too!
I glued them on cardboard backings. Some craft and framing stores sell the inside scrap cuts from matte board for low prices, and gluing your signs on these scraps provides pretty colored borders. Then the signs can be laminated, or you can also buy sheets of clear plastic with a peel-off backing at office supply stores to do your own laminating (which is what I did since it was cheaper!) In a pinch, you can even use clear shipping tape to weather-proof a sign if you don't need it to last forever. Cover the front and fold it over the edges and onto the back so water can't get in.

Or, maybe you could find plastic or metal signs that could be written on with a permanent marker and then wiped off again with a solvent for the next use. I can't find a permanent marker that doesn't sun fade over time, but those black oil-based paint pens seem to be pretty durable, and I think the paint could probably be wiped off with lacquer thinner to erase it.

For me, gardening is all about learning. When I'm staring at a flat of small green plants with no ID, no price, and no cultivation info, I'm not very likely to purchase them. Making information cards or signs is work (for sure) but once you figure out your system, I really think pays off!

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

A good point to remember SIGN"s!
I'm wanting it to be whimsical and fun,fun,fun!
Need a sign & bug box maker!!! lol!!
My head is spinning, with ideas!!
If you have picture's please post them!

Thanks oldmudhouse!

Hello Donna, I'll second DonnaB's comments, "let me know what pics you are looking for I and I will gladly share what I have." Seriously, I've posted about a thousand photos of native plants to the PlantFiles and I'm easily sitting on another thousand of native plants that I've plumb run out of time to post... because of threads like yours that make me think which is a very good thing because it was getting kinda boring over here in Gardening For Wildlife... but, I can get any native plant photo I took to you via your e-mail without the watermark and you are welcome to it for no fee. I'm certainly not a professional photographer and there is no way I could ever earn an honest living with my photographs so I'm more than happy to share them with someone who might actually have a good shot at earning an honest living by using a few. It will be good to see one of our own come up from the ranks and here's hoping you become successful enough to advertise at this site and get your plants linked to our PlantScout! Here's hoping you don't forget all of us little people when you become a raging success and that you share photos of the plants you will be selling in our PlantFiles. I might even (gasp, dare I say it) change my personal preferences to view advertising and forum sponsors.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Hey Donna!! I second everyone's suggestions above and also say good luck and GO FOR IT GIRL!!!

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

This one women show will need all the boost I can get!!

Ok you gals with all those pic's
I would love pictures on the following

Monarchs Life Cycle
Cats food Sources
pollinator nectaring sources
basking sites

hope that not to much to ask!
any pic's you would like to share
send them to [email protected]

I WILL NOT forget you either, promise!!!!
Many, Many Hugs to yall!!

Oh, guess what I'll be opening Spring 2007!!!
Here's a pic of my future site, UGLY now! Huh!

Thumbnail by gapeahen

Looks as if you're going to have to start trolling the BugFiles. Many talented people over there too.

Your property is absolutely beautiful. Tremendous potential. It will be lush and full in no time flat. Just you wait and see. There will be a major transformation and it will be all your doing.

Toone, TN(Zone 7a)

Oh Donna I am so excited for you! Yep its an eyesore now but what a before and after it will make! There's your first marketing tool right there. If you can beautify that empty lot, what magical transformations can you create in your customer's gardens? Believe me, you'll have the whole town talking. Do keep us posted so we can all live vicariously thru your new adventure.
PS - Have you chosen a name for your business yet?

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

I would like a variety of plants, common, and hard to find.
I don't want invasives. If I'm a beginner, I won't know that Gooseneck Loosestrife will have to be dug out and gotten rid of in a year or two.
Give me all colors and different blooming times of flowers such as Astilbes.
Don't sell me a zone 6 flower in zone 5 unless you tell me so. I lost a pink Gaura that wasn't cheap because I didn't know.
Provide a lot of natives and wildflowers.
Sell fall flowers such as Japanese Anemones.
Give me a variety of Snapdragons in all colors and sizes.
Sell thin plant books such as Ortho or Sunset. Those were my first learning tools and I poured over them!
Set small affordable garden gnomes around the flowers, grasses and shrubs with price tags on them. Same with animal statues.
Try not to sell aggressive invasive grasses. It's hard to pick a grass without a book to tell you clumping or spreading.

I hope this helps and I wish you luck!!!

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

My local garden centers are lacking in the proper butterfly host plants. They lack selling natives also. They do have some beautiful beds chock full of plants, but nothing that I'm interested in. My favorite places to go take me 2 or so hours to get to, and they have all the native plants I could ever hope to find to draw in butterflies, birds, critters etc. What they lack though is the picture of the plant in all it's glory. They do tell of plant size, sun or shade etc. I think the most important part is having knowledgeable people to talk to. I went to a nursery a while back with a girl friend. I was insisting she buy a butterfly weed 'Asclepias tuberosa', and the lady told us she had them stuck back behind a shed because people thought the plants looks awful with all the cats chewing on them. She did say it was the best year for the butterflies, but nobody was appreciating them.

Good luck with your new endeavor!

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

I'm taking alot of notes, keep'em coming!
This is GREAT!!! So glad to hear from all!!

You have mail.

If you are opening up in spring of '07, what plants have you already ordered?

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

None yet!!! lol!
Looking for grower with the best $$ & quality of plants,(native)
but I have a salvia list I'll ordering with in the next
2 wks. My cold frame GH isn't up yet! Which we're
Still having warm days in the 70's and into the 40's at nite.
I have much too do!

The new owners of the farm supply store is having a Grand Opening
Nov. 30,,,,,,,,,Good time to share with future customers.
Want to have a flyers or some type of intersting hand out to share
with them. There need to be 10 of me now! My dear hubby keeps me busy with his going on's too, then there my 16 yrs son. Who could care
less about plants!! My gardens a wreck, I was down during the spring with a sprain ankle for 4 months............I'm really behind!!
But I will keep the faith, and say focus. Planning on working my new beds before the grand opening!

And I can't sleepy at nite,,,,,,,,,,my mind will not slow down!!!
I'm for sure ADD, along with a few other things!

I'm going to try to sleep now,
Sweet Dreams of Fluttering Butterflies!!!
Nite, Nite,

Check these out-

ATS Partners, LLC
PO Box 1306, 2514 Vada Rd, Bainbridge, GA 39818 Tel: 229/246-2662 Fax: 229/246-4787
E-mail: [email protected]
%Native: 100. W

Bell Brothers, Inc.
Hwy. 169 S, P.O. Box 128, Bellville, GA 30414 Tel: 912/739-2273 Fax: 912/739-2205
E-mail: [email protected]
%Native: 100. W

***Carters Nursery, Bowater Forest Products Division
11306 Hwy. 411 S., Chatsworth GA 30705 Tel: 706/445-2422 Fax: 706/445-4212
E-mail: [email protected]

Mobley Greenhouse, Inc.
1265 Ga. Hwy. 133 N., Moultrie, GA 31768 Tel: 229/985-5544 Fax: 229/985-0567
%Native: 100. W

***Okefenokee Growers
May Bluff Rd., Folston, GA 31537 Toll free: 877/356.5577 Tel: 904/356.5577 Fax: 904/356.4884

Rutland Forest Nursery
502 Owen-Medford Rd. Lenox, GA 31637 Tel: 229/382-5504
%Native: 100. W. Grows pine seedlings.

*** Transplant Nursery
1586 Parkertown Rd., Lavonia, GA 30553 Tel: 706/356.8947 Fax: 706/356.8842
E-mail: [email protected] %Native: 20. C/W

Wight's Nursery
P.O. Box 390, Cairo, GA 31728 Tel: 229/377-3384 Fax: 229/377-6619
%Native: 100. W

The above list is by no means complete but these wholesale nurseries all are listed at a site I use for Georgia. You might want to check for wholesale nurseries that are within say 100 miles of where you live even if they are in another state. Here's the site I use when I want quantities of plants and need to start hunting them down-
Be careful though, some of those nurseries aren't 100% native.

Just come right out and ask them native range of the plants they are offering for sale particularly on the nurseries above with *** that have not shared what percentage of plants they offer wholesale that are native.

Now I'm going to have to go digging to find my receipts for trays and pots and other growing accessories. That's a scary thought but I'm pretty sure I know where the receipt is to the supplier that I found that had great prices. Contact my friend tigerlily123. She and I virtually never cross paths here at DG but she's in these threads and she is a grower of annuals and would be able to give you a few good suppliers that would exclusively be wholesale products.

If you are going 100% native, how come you've never been posting in indigenous plants or gardening for wildlife before ;)

I have to go to work and today's a late day for me. Have fun.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, gapeahen-- Sounds like a fun challenge for you!

I like to see plants displayed or sold right on the same table with other plants that combine well with them in the garden. Different perennials whose blooms, hues, and foliage make pleasing combinations (and are ready to buy and go right in the garden--no procrastinating or thinking required!).

Or at least a sign that suggests classic plant combinations to purchase. For instance, if you sell a crabapple, offer some pink tulip and muscari bulbs to plant underneath it. Roses and Iris. Daffodils and daylilies. Vitex or buddleia with Milkweed and Rue. That sort of thing. If you are selling one, take the opportunity to sell the 'partner' too. Makes for more sales dollars and prettier and more sophisticated gardens!

And some paper and online catalogs sell complete preplanned gardens. For example, "The shade garden", 'the native plant garden', "the butterfly garden", "the sunny border", the 'xeriscape garden', and offering these "ready made" collections right at the nursery might be useful for the 'quick start" gardener who has a new home to landscape (and three children in tow on Saturday morning).

We are seeing this cross marketing approach more often these days around here, but it still isn't widely used. Many new gardeners or gardeners who don't have a lot of time to shop would appreciate this.

And I agree. So many people are buying plants online these days. It might be a necessity to plan for a website and a mail order operation before too long.

Good luck and happy gardening. t.

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

I think more and more people buy plants online because they can't find the plant locally. If I was to open a garden center, I would be 100% native with plants from a 100 mile radius and I would take out ads and pass out flyers as to why my place is all native. They can get roses, tulip and muscari bulbs and a host of other plants at a big box store, which would defeat my purpose. The big box store will always undersell what you have, but they will not be carrying any regionally native plants. The buddleia is something I had while living in TN. It's not invasive in just the east, it's invasive down south too. I bought them because I hadn't done my homework first and didn't realize that if given a choice, butterflies much prefer a native plant. I think if you're catering to the ones you want to enjoy butterfly and hummingbird gardening, you need native plants to do so. I think the drawback to having plants all side by side that make a nice combination, is that then you're buying plants that are blooming now. You don't want that. You want something that starts early on and goes till the plant goes dormant. That would be what your flower beds are for.

Are you planning on doing all natives or are you going to throw in non native plants also?

Hey terry, look up a few posts to where gapeahen typed this,

Looking for grower with the best $$ & quality of plants,(native)
but I have a salvia list I'll ordering with in the next
2 wks.

I was wondering the same thing and originally assumed she was going native because she posted over here in Gardening for Wildlife and she is going native! Looks as if she won't be selling Butterfly Bushes, Camphor Trees, Queen Anne's Lace, Kudzu or any other ickies that are still popping up on lists as being beneficial to butterfly gardeners! Yay!

Landrum, SC(Zone 7b)

I am having a real big problem with the "exotic invasive” and then reading the list of some of the flowers or shrubs that people want. The "Gardener's Dictionary" describes "exotic" as being from a foreign country. Well, folks - as far as I am concerned I don't want it then! It takes anywhere from 10 to 100 years before we will know if an exotic plant will be invasive. Neither Kudzu nor water hyacinths were invasive in their native countries. The destruction these two plants alone have caused in Florida and the Southeast is unbelievable! But it did not happen overnight and by the time people realized what was happening, it was too late! Florida was fighting for its waterways 45 years ago and it is still fighting to rid itself of that dreadful plant. The acres destroyed by Kudzu are unbelievable. Yet every year the gardening magazines feature the newest "exotic" because it is so hardy and grows so well here. Frankly, that sets up warning bells in my mind. Enough of our own country's plants are invasive without importing others only to find out decades later that they are also!

Many people seem to think that because it has been here for a hundred years, it is native. Not in my book!

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

exotic invasive is a very good point!
I'll make sure I do my research, wish I had done
more when I planted Mex. petunia!
Thank's to all for sharing, I'm so so happy you've responed!

I'm still taking notes, when I complie them all, I should have
The best little educational garden center here in the south!!
Thank goodnses I have the winter to prepare!
Keep it simple,but beautiful with native plants,educational display gardens for the beginngers. Starting first with soil prep.
Must not forget to challenge those avid gardener's too!

Keep on sharing,
Thanks again,

PS should I move this thread to another form? If so which is best?

This message was edited Nov 8, 2006 5:28 PM

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

Donna, what plants are you going with? Natives? Non natives mixed with natives? If you want some advise on native plants, there's always the Indigenous forum here. Any shrubs? Trees? Do you want to have plants that are wildlife friendly? You can start a new post here on plants that people have they feel is a must have for gardening for wildlife.

Very good idea to leave the exotic invasives to the big box stores.

There's conflicting info out there anymore on soil prep or amending. Anymore, it seems like it's frowned upon. If you're selling natives from your region, they're already adapted to the clay I'm going to assume you have down there (since I had it in Chattanooga).

If I were you, I'd ask questions here (this forum not the thread) and if people feel you need to go to another forum, then go ask at the forum they suggest.

I don't think there's any need to move this thread. Her nursery is going to cater to buterflies and hummers and she's "Looking for grower with the best $$ & quality of plants,(native)"!
I could be way off base but it sounds to me as if she's going to open up a nursery for those who garden for wildlife and is going to be attempting to locate quality affordably priced native species.

As far as specifics on the actual plants that will be ordered, perhaps that might be a great new thread to start in indigenous plants. Maybe you could list plants you want to order and everyone could hop on board and locate sources for the species that would utilize them. That might help out time wise.

Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

Uhmm......isn't that what I said? You're skipping again.........


Bureau County, IL(Zone 5a)

uh! did ya feel that?? Don't be alarmed, that was just me whacking ya one upside the head thru the computer.........

Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

Maybe if I share a bit about me & my gardening experience.
I'm a simple women, a DIY gal, Wife,mother,housewife, and a
master gardener for the pass 10 yrs. But have not been MG active in the last 8 yrs. I've been wanting to get a LIFE for me, OUT of the HOUSE! Some of you ladies my know just where I'm coming from......HATE housework, gotta get my hands DIRTY!!
So this great opportunity of opening a garden center just happen to fall into my hands, with new owners of a -establish 60 years feed & seed store.

Though I seem to have forgoten all that I know,,,,brain dead at times!!lol!! And by FAR I DO NOT know it all. But I do know there's a BIG need
in our small town of forty thousand plus folks. For a Educational, Display garden Ctr. Starting out with educating on the basic of gardening and work up for there. I'm big into perennials, salvia's is my big love! So I'm starting off my plant base with perennials native & non native. Native woody ornametals. Specializing with butterfly and hummingbird garden display. Will see how the space go's!

I have been out of the loop so to say for sometime, I very FEARFUL,
but if I don't know the answer I'm NOT scare to ASK! That's why I'm asking for those comments and suggestions from you guys! My budget is very limted now, someday that will change too. I love sharing with those who are eager to learn. Children are a joy to teach too!
I miss those elementary days of school when my son was there.
Hope this about me helps!

If you would like to share and favorite designs, picture's or what you know will be be good to have, I'm ALL EARS!!!

Big HUG"S to all that post! I really appreicate it dearly!

Native woodies opens up a whole new door to you. There are nurseries that sell exclusively bare root. You might have to grow them out for a year or so and offer them in spring of '08 but I'm sure you could do that at home leaving space at the nursery for even more goodies to get off to a good running start.

There are many well behaved introduced species out there. I plant them up in tight to my home when I get them. Please tell me you will not be selling exotic or indigenous invasives!

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Since I'm so new I don't have all the years of advice that has already been offered here (and great advice it is!) So here's a perspective from a very new gardener: EDUCATE ME! You're right on target with that niche. I know it might get expensive between ink and paper, but a plain b & w handout to go home with the plant would be awesome and much easier to file away than those stupid plastic (non-biodegradable) tags! Love the color pics on them, but I need a little more info being so new. Perhaps just a stand up by the cash register where you can just say "did you get your plant fact sheet for that (insert plant here) that you are purchasing?" Keep them in a paper holder like the scrapbook papers are at craft stores - then those that want them can snag one, and old timers won't need them. It will be a good way to figure out who is new to gardening and offer them some of your years of experience and encouragement- we newbies really appreciate that :)

Natives are good too, and I liked T's idea of the companion plant grouping - some of us that are new get all willy-nilly and then end up with a hodge-podge - so those 'theme garden' suggestions rock. It helps new gardeners see what their area will mature to over the years.

Reward repeat customers - send coupons, or track purchases and reward as they reach a certain purchase point, maybe a free plant, seeds, a pretty pot.

But most of all - keep the prices reasonable. I will never go spend 34.00 on two plants (okay, maybe tea olives if I could EVER find one) - but I will buy 4-5 things that add up to 40.00 if I feel like I'm getting a deal. It's a psychological thing for me I guess. Maybe have a 'sale' section where you place certain things for say 33% off - when some shoppers (using myself for an example) see a reduced section, we're hooked. LOL - I don't know what it is, but I know it works on me. This past Sunday we stopped at a roadside market to get some produce - but nothing caught my fancy. However, the lady had some plants displayed really nicely - in hand painted pots, in tin buckets - really well done. And she had some hanging baskets that were just STUFFED full of plants. Everything plants was 50% off. Now, here is how it worked on me: cute pot, 50% off, I like it! I brought home another plant I already HAVE for goodness sakes because it was in a cute pot and only 4.99 - and then I bought the matching pot one beside it. Then I bought the hanging basket and the tin pail of edible plants (which wasn't on sale) because I already felt like I got a great deal so spending a little more on that one was justified in my mind. (take note, consumer pyschology display here...hahaha). While I was waiting to pay for my plants, she had candle holders on display for guessed it, 50% off. I was standing there looking, we'd just leased a new house and I saw the porch railof the new place, the candles burning in the evening and the plants in my mind and poof! I bought those too. I stopped to get produce and brought 40 or so dollars of plants home instead.

Anyway, I hope that helps. Marketing is pretty psychological for the most part. KNOW your customers, keep them coming back, have a referral program (5.00 off for each friend you bring to shop with you) - and one night a week BE OPEN LATE! Pick a night during the week, stay open until 9 p.m. - working gardeners will adore you for it.

There's my .02 shekels worth ;)

And most of all, BELIEVE in yourself and your customers and your products.

Best wishes!


Donna, I would want a nursery that not only buys some liners (butterfly bushes etc) but also does some propagation on it's own. There were/are many plants I can't find locally which, if someone had a seed source, could easily be grown and sold in Georgia. For example, turkscap hibiscus, hibiscus drumondii. It's a fantastic hummer magnet and I had to grow my own from seed.
More native plants too. Things like unusual types of liatris, a wider variety of coreopsis and rudbeckias...sure local nurseries carry the new varieties, but it took me several years to figure out that there were many, many types of blackeyed susans that can be grown here easily and are loved by both birds and butterflies...
Decimination of information is another important aspect of running a nursery and being able to sell your plants. Letting people know what is hardy for you, not just what plant tags say...and of course offering information about more unusual plants you have in stock.
Selling plants, not just in their flowering season. So many nurseries in town carry plants in flowering season in their retail center. When they go out of flower, they get taken back to holding areas or greenhouses. A real gardener understands that the best time to plant is usually when the plant is not in flower. A photograph of the plant nearby is helpful. Also, being very honest about cultural needs. This is so especially true, as you know with salvias. And being honest about their habit in our climate. Does if flop? Does it grow to extrordinary heights with extended growing seasons, etc.

My favorite nursery in Georgia was Gardensmith. Did you ever get the chance to go there? It didn't specialize in the type of plants you want, but it did specialize in fantastic customer service, unusual plants for our climate, a very enthusiastic owner, and lots of great information.

I have a friend in Oxford, Mississipi who recently opened her own garden center. She has found many challenges, especially introducing people to new plant material. The easiest way she has done this is to design gardens for people and install the plants herself. People fall in love with them once they see the plant growing. So really, really good design is important. I've spent a lot of time in my community "fixing" very poorly designed (in terms of client need, want ) installed by local specialty garden centers.


Donna in Douglas, GA(Zone 8b)

Thanks Sunny your right on the money!
Hope your feelin better!

GGG, I'm right in line with ya! Thanks A big Hug to you & Sunny!

This message was edited Nov 9, 2006 12:39 AM

Las Cruces, NM(Zone 8a)

When you get things up and running, you could consider giving a small group talk at your nursery. Our local native plant nursery does this occasionally on specific topics (you could do one on hummers, or on butterflies.) The owner puts a notice in the newspaper and asks for phone reservations to keep the group small, about a dozen people. She charges $5 to cover the cost of plant info handouts. She talks for about 45 mins, then we break for lemonade and cookies...then another 45 mins as we tour the nursery so she can point out specific plants, and people can ask questions.

It's not a money maker for her at $5 per head because she gives out a ton of literature, but it does introduce new people to her nursery, and they learn that she's a friendly person who will be available for personalized help. I think this is one way she separates herself from the big box stores (in addition to carrying native plants that Lowes has never heard of!)

Lansing, KS(Zone 5b)

Donna~ I loved the nursery in WA that had loads of colorful creative containers of plants, garden benches, unique water fountains,and loads of artsy garden statues and signs for sale They even had good coffee brewing that welcomed you to linger. The sights and sounds were intoxicating and I always bought more than I had planned because I could imagine the serenity for my gardens as well! Here, my favorite nursery over an hour away has an enclosed butterfly garden showing labeled different stages of various butterflies,as well as the labeled flowers. My pumpkins love to explore the butterfly garden while I browsed and shopped. They had cute little red wagons for the customer. If your staff don't know an answer, have gardening books or the computer on site to answer questions. They ask me questions as to where I want to plant and have me to describe the site, soil etc and ask if I'm looking for suggestions,etc. Bouquets to you on a new adventure and much success and joy!

Toone, TN(Zone 7a)

I just love this thread. Donna, a while back you asked if you should move the thread. I don't think anyone wants you to move it. You may want to post a new one, however, over on MarketGrowers, only because they have an entirely different point of view for you to consider.

Just a thought.

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