Ask the Experts: Garden Centers

Linda

Linda Zukas
Churchill’s
603 772-2685 

 

What distinguishes your approach to gardening from that of the big box stores?
Plant and product knowledge, customer service, and inspiring displays are the key areas that set Churchill’s apart from the box stores. We have employees with many years of experience that lead our team in helping customers select plant material that will perform the best in their home or yard. We are also open year round and pride ourselves on displays that help customers gain ideas.

What do you think are the most important garden trends?
Yards and patios are oases from this fast-paced world we live in. Our customers are looking for great new varieties of plant material that have been developed over recent years to help make their oasis a wonderful retreat. Container gardening will continue to grow, tropical plants for patios are fun and interesting, and vegetables and herbs will again be popular.

What do you like to grow in your own garden?
My personal gardens are varied, ranging from plants that came from gardens of special people in my life to tried and true perennials and shrubs that provide a solid foundation and to the vegetable garden in the middle of the backyard. I change things each year, though, with the annuals that I add for color and impact.

How do your own gardening experiences influence the items you carry?
Like many others, my soil is not as rich as I would like, and I do not have as much time as I would like, so container gardening is a great way to make my front doorstep look full and colorful. This being said, I am always looking for varieties of plants that will perform for those customers that do not have all of the perfect variables.


Ask_RhondaLocke

Rhonda Locke
Freshwater Farms
603 362-6200

What distinguishes your approach to gardening from that of the big box stores?
Our approach to our garden center and greenhouse (and the entire store) has always been that of “good old-fashioned New England values” and being the “neighborhood garden center.” We try to source our products from local producers and provide items that will grow successfully in our area of New Hampshire and the Merrimack Valley.

What do you think are the most important garden trends?

The garden trend still appears to be a strong interest in growing your own fruit and veggies, with more people understanding and requesting the heirloom varieties and being interested in the history and benefits behind them. I’ve also noticed a strong “nostalgia” feeling—people looking for sentimental plants, maybe things that their grandmothers planted.

What do you like to grow in your own garden?
In my own garden I grow lots of veggies and herbs. I love to grow my own celery and blueberries. For flowers, I have always loved cosmos and David Austin roses, and I have a great collection of daylilies that I’ve gotten from the farm, friends, and my travels. 

How do your own gardening experiences influence the items you carry?
I grew up on a farm. We raised at least 500 tomato plants, pumpkins, and corn, along with all the other veggies. I try to carry a great selection of vegetable and small fruit plants and educate our first-time gardeners about how easy it is to produce their own healthy food. Just a few generations ago it was a necessity rather than a hobby!


Ask_Langs

Cindy Lang
Lang’s Landscape Service
603 433-3211

What distinguishes your approach to gardening from that of the big box stores?
We promote personalized attention, knowledge, reputation, material, and workmanship guarantee. We are a 60-year- old family business.

What do you think are the most important garden trends?
Hardscaping

What do you like to grow in your own garden?
Peonies, hydrangeas, cut flowers, daisy variations that repeat bloom, and fresh vegetables.

How do your own gardening experiences influence the items you carry? 
Ease of maintenance on shrubs and trees, specific fertilizers for plants: these are a concern for us and our customers today.


Don

Don Stockman
Outdoor Pride Landscaping Inc.
603 964-3002

What distinguishes your approach to gardening from that of the big box stores?
We are close to home and have managers available that are very in tune with many areas. We have a construction design manager on site and we have a maintenance division that can help homeowners with all the maintenance issues they have. We have staff aboard that specializes in all the aspects of a landscape’s needs. Box stores don’t do that or even come close to it.

What do you think are the most important garden trends?
I believe the biggest trend that has continued for the past two to three years is for homeowners to have their own gardens. It’s no different than back in the 1940s with victory gardens. In flowers, the trend is to have a unique setting such as a shade setting. People are trying to establish their own backyards that they can enjoy, like their own little vacation in their yard.

What do you like to grow in your own garden?
I have a wide variety of prolific perennials, such as Echinacea and daylilies, and I integrate my vegetables right in with my flowers. For example, I have my tomatoes next to my coneflowers in front of my house. I also started a nice shade garden last year, and I like to use a lot of natives, such as white and pink lilies of the valley.

How do your own gardening experiences influence the items you carry?
Basically I’m an old Yankee at heart. I really like to carry the basics for new homeowners who have never gardened. A lot of people are just getting started, and I like to help them have a good foundation and a good first year. The new homeowners are definitely neophytes and need to be coached in soils, fertilizers, and the need to start off small.


Ask_JanRichenburg

Jan Richenburg
Pettengill Farm
978 462-3675

What distinguishes your approach to gardening from that of the big box stores?
We have a unique setting in a rural area with no traffic noise, no chemicals, and no big trucks constantly driving in and out. Our farm has been in our family since 1792. This personal approach makes a very friendly atmosphere for the gardener. Our display gardens, our little vignettes, and our numerous planters help inspire ideas for the customer’s own living space.

What do you think are the most important garden trends?
I think this season will continue to offer a wider variety of vegetables and fruit that can be planted in the homeowner’s backyard. As for the plant industry, I understand that all colors of lavender and amethyst will be the people’s choice for either the home or the garden.

What do you like to grow in your own garden?
Because I am a lover of unusual plant material and a plantaholic, a lot of my gardens are full of these types of plants. I like to see how they perform and how much care needs to be involved so I can make a decision whether to add it to our inventory. I especially like succulents and tropical plants.

How do your own gardening experiences influence the items you carry?
There is nothing I like more than gardening and obtaining unusual plants. I feel very excited being around other garden enthusiasts because I can always learn something or share something. Our garden center is full of out-of-the-ordinary plant material, and we just love to share plant varieties in our containers, our many display gardens, and within our little vignettes on our sales benches.


 

Beth

Beth Simpson
Rolling Green Nursery
603 436-2732

What distinguishes your approach to gardening from that of the big box stores?
The experience as well as the service, and the knowledge that everybody here has. We have a lot of expertise people can tap into when they are shopping. We also provide gardens for them to get ideas and inspiration from. We have a landscaped property so they can see plants being used in their proper places.

What do you think are the most important garden trends?
I think color continues to drive people to us—color in pots, gardens, even homes. Also important are flowering trees, shrubs, and annuals that perform from spring to fall. The Knock Out roses have brought roses back into people’s gardens, and there are a zillion new hydrangeas people are using.

What do you like to grow in your own garden?
I would have to say I always have tomatoes, herbs, Japanese maples, some flowering shrubs that bloom for a long time, and hydrangeas. I live in the woods so I grow a lot of plants with white flowers to show up against the woods. I also have a big bunch of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ in front of a red barn—that’s really beautiful.

How do your own gardening experiences influence the items you carry?
I want gardening to be easy for people because I know they have limited time. Most people want plants to be long blooming and hardy—there are a lot of them being developed now. If a plant requires a lot of coddling I might recommend it to a plant nerd.




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