A woman kneels next to a pallet of potted plants, smiling and holding up one of the pots. The plants have dark pink flowers and thin, pointed leaves. The woman has dark curly hair and wears a denim apron, a white T-shirt, and white gloves. In the background are rows of more pallets holding a variety of plants. An older woman, slightly out of focus, kneels next to another pallet and reaches forward to pick up a pot.
Many nurseries go beyond just selling plants. The businesses below also landscape, hold community events, and teach customers about the natural world around them. — Getty Images/Olimpia Tosheva

An estimated 185 million Americans report gardening as a hobby or a way to grow their own food. Home gardeners are forecasted to continue to spend more time and money on gardening year over year. This trend is good news for these five independent nurseries that take pride in their plant selections and provide additional resources to guide the green thumb.

Urban Earth Nursery

This nursery has seen four name changes and five owners since 1998. The current owner, Kristin Jackson, stepped into the role in 2016, and Lexi Korneitchouk became co-owner last year. As the name suggests, Urban Earth Nursery specializes in plants that thrive in city gardens, specifically those of Seattle.

The foliage offered by this quaint plant oasis includes shrubs and trees, conifers, unique perennials, herbs, house plants, and succulents. In addition to the shrubbery selection, Urban Earth Nursery also hosts flower crown workshops and an occasional potting happy hour. Avid customers can purchase monthly and annual Plant Club memberships that come with discounts, seasonal gift boxes, and access to book and gardening tool rentals.

Ginkgo Gardens

Mark Holler opened this nursery on Capitol Hill in 2000. Having earned a college education in horticulture, Holler first professionally pursued his love of plants through his landscaping company, Holler Landscape. This eventually evolved into Ginkgo Gardens, named after Holler’s cat who would often curl up on the front counter.

Holler didn’t leave landscaping behind in this transition, but rather incorporated it into his business model. With a team of experts alongside him, he’s able to provide landscape design, consultation services, and installation and maintenance in addition to the garden center. Ginkgo Gardens also boasts an inventory of distinctive statuary and outdoor ornamentation.

Roots and Shoots Nursery

Another small business that began as a landscaping company, Roots and Shoots Nursery began in Dave Manger’s backyard, only to quickly outgrow it. Manger’s Living Landscapes kept his operation afloat until it was possible to pivot away from landscaping altogether and finally focus on his main goal: supplying a wide variety of plants and fruits native to the southeast United States.

Manger’s curiosity for nature stemmed from his childhood, spending time as a Boy Scout and doing yard work for a retired botany professor who introduced him to diverse flora. In college, he explored bioengineering and environmental studies.

In addition to the shrubbery selection, Urban Earth Nursery also hosts flower crown workshops and an occasional potting happy hour.

Since hiring his first employee in 2018, Manger has seen consistent growth in inventory and property lines. He and his small staff host events such as wreath-making workshops, educational seminars about landscaping with native plants, and communal holiday markets. Roots and Shoots Nursery also works with many local artisans and other small businesses to put things like handmade jewelry, pottery, and statues on its shelves.

Waiahole Nursery & Garden Center

Waiahole Nursery & Garden Center is a family-owned nursery in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Opened in 2008 by Dr. Patricia Dukes, education and vocational training are core practices of this business.

As such, the team provides classes, volunteer opportunities, and internships to teach the aspiring gardener about hydroponics and aquaponics. Dr. Dukes also encourages local social services agencies to bring their clients to the nursery for gardening therapy. Tours and activities show how to cultivate plants and fish, as well as how to cook what’s in the garden. The nursery welcomes field trips and boasts accredited certificate programs for aquaponics, hydroponics, soil gardening, and more.

A variety of tropical plants and fruit trees are grafted and grown in Waiahole Nursery & Garden Center’s six-thousand–gallon aquaponic system. The nursery focuses on local flower types to create haku leis and floral arrangements for special occasions. There is a florist onsite who fulfills orders big and small for events, holidays, and weddings. To complement this, the garden center can be rented out for weddings, bridal showers, and other private events.

Garden Shack Farm

After owning a landscaping business for 26 years, Tom Kucharik decided to grow plants full time and opened the Garden Shack Farm with his wife Laura. Since 2012, the couple has been cultivating annual flowers, perennial plants, herbs, shrubs, vegetables, and grasses, all best suited for Sussex County in Lewes, Delaware. Plants are also categorized based on regional environmental factors, such as salt tolerance for coastal exposure or wet soil tolerance. The online shop is updated daily and offers delivery to neighboring towns for a small fee.

The business promotes other local artists who create nature-inspired plant stakes, sun catchers, and handmade stationary. As part of the local adopt-a-highway program, the nursery performs a cleanup once a month along a two-mile stretch of road with the help of volunteers. Each participant receives a $15 gift card to Garden Shack Farm.

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