March 22, 2009

Locally Grown: North Carolina Plant Nurseries

As a gardener, I am fortunate to live in North Carolina. Here in the Piedmont, I am surrounded by wonderful plant nurseries that provide everything from annuals to exotics to native species.

Beyond retail nurseries, there are also the plant experts who are breeding new plant varieties or going on expeditions to collect new varieties that will grow well here. The wholesale growers provide plants for many local retail garden shops.

The individual and family-owned gardening businesses in North Carolina are often well-known throughout the country. Additionally, our universities provide so much in the way of research and conservation to help improve plants for our home gardens and preserve native species.

Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill is one of the first nurseries to specialize in native 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.

Plant Delights Nursery is located just outside Raleigh. Tony Avent, the owner, is well known for his plant finding expeditions and exotic plants. Plant Delights Nursery sells through a catalog, online and during open house days several times a year.

Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill is renowned for introducing their own camellias. The Parks family continues to expand their nursery to include other trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Rich DuFresne is a Candor, North Carolina plantsman who has introduced and bred salvia and agastache. He also goes on plant-finding expeditions for new salvia varieties.

Big Bloomers Flower Farm in Sanford has greenhouses that are overflowing with annuals, herbs, perennials, daylilies, hostas and so many other plants.

Green Hill Hostas in Chapel Hill is a reliable source for hostas, including new varieties. The Solberg family sells both wholesale and retail.

Holly Hill Daylily Farm in Moncure is a daylily breeder who also sells 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.

Multiflora Greenhouses in Hillsborough has six acres of container, bedding annuals and other plants that they grow for both wholesale and retail. The same family has been operating the business for over 25 years. They are a "green sensitive" grower using bottom heat and capturing rainwater, then recycling the runoff from the retention ponds.

Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham has been selling roses for over 57 years! They have a display garden for their gorgeous roses. Witherspoon sells online with great photos and information about the roses.

Dickinson Garden Center in Chapel Hill is a local retail garden center and family-owned business has been in the same location for over 55 years. They use North Carolina wholesale growers, too.

Lowe's Hardware is a North Carolina company that was founded in 1946. They also sell plants that are grown by North Carolina wholesale nurseries.

The NC Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill has a daily plant sale (April through October) of native plants that they grow and propagate.

JC Raulston Arboretum performs research to determine which landscape plants perform best in our southeast gardens. There are sometimes special plant sales at the Arboretum that may include rare varieties.

Another wonderful source of North Carolina plants can be found at our many Farmer's Markets in towns and cities. There are flower farmers who sell at the larger State Farmer's Market in Raleigh and the Western North Carolina Farmer's Market in Asheville, too.

Story and photo by Freda Cameron
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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