October 4, 2008

What are the Best Plant Nurseries?

By Freda Cameron

Where do flower gardeners shop? As I was leaving a comment on Judy Lowe's diggin'it blog in The Christian Science Monitor regarding great plant nurseries, I realized just how many wonderful plant sources we have here in North Carolina. Judy was prompted to write after reading about great nurseries in the United Kingdom in the Telegraph.

Great topic! So, why not keep this topic flowing through the gardening blogs in different states?

I'm located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Here, and in the nearby surrounding areas, we have many wonderful sources for perennials, exotic plants, native species and specialties.

Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill is just a few miles away. Niche Gardens is one of the first nurseries that I ever used when I started gardening "in the woods" (at a previous house) and wanted native NC plants. Visiting Niche Gardens is also a treat given their different display gardens that include wetlands/bogs, sun and shade gardens. Niche sells plants through mail order and are open most days at the nursery.

I've mentioned Plant Delights Nursery several times when writing about plants. The nursery is located just outside Raleigh. Tony Avent, the owner, is well known for his plant finding expeditions and exotic plants. Having visited his Juniper Level Botanic Gardens and the nursery, this is another favorite. Plant Delights Nursery sells through a catalog, online and during open house days several times a year.

Another favorite plant shopping spree is visiting Big Bloomers Flower Farm in Sanford. There are greenhouses filled with annuals, herbs, perennials, daylilies, hostas and so many other plants. I also have a tendancy to buy garden accents there. I have concrete acorns and a garden bench from Big Bloomers. This is where I go to buy small pots in quantity and often fill up the back seat of my truck.

Back in the days when I lived where I could grow hostas (no deer problems), I made yearly purchases from Green Hill Hostas in Chapel Hill. I remember getting a post card reminder for days when the nursery was open to the public. Looking at the website, the Solbergs are still going strong and are selling both wholesale and retail.

One of the best daylily farms around is Holly Hill Daylily Farm in Moncure. They also sell crinum and a few other plants like verbena and red hot pokers. As with many nurseries, they have special days when they sell to the public. Holly Hill is known for daylily introductions. They have more than plants -- if you like bottle trees and other whimsical garden art, check out their website.

If you are a rose gardener, don't miss Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham. Witherspoon has been selling roses for 57 years! I was just driving by Witherspoon yesterday and plan to go back to visit their goregous rose gardens. Witherspoon sells online with great photos and information about the roses.

Although Dickinson Garden Center in Chapel Hill isn't a nursery, I've purchased some of my favorites from them such as sweet bay magnolia, gardenias and deer resistant perennials. Yes, they actually label their deer resistant plants! Dickinson Garden Center has aquatics as well as perennials, shrubs, annuals, herbs and specimen trees.

Also in Chapel Hill, the NC Botanical Gardens has a daily plant sale (April through October) of native plants that they grow and propagate. If you go, make sure you tour the gardens. There are also great nature trails for day hiking.

If you are visiting Raleigh, a visit to JC Raulston Arboretum is a great place for any gardener. There are sometimes special plant sales at the Arboretum that may include rare varieties. Keep an eye on the JCRA events calendar for information.

What are the best plant nurseries in your area?

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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