Garden Variety: Garden centers stay open, but with some changes
Local garden centers are working hard to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and get necessary items to customers in the safest manner possible.
Usually, shopping for plants is an experience in itself. The air smells different in a greenhouse in spring, full of the earthiness of potting soil and plant material. Greenhouses and plant nurseries are also a reminder of the bounty of things that can be grown in yards and gardens to provide food, shade and aesthetic value.
But this year, that portion of plant shopping must be limited to protect customers and employees. Local garden center and nursery owners are doing their best to make sure the plants themselves are available, though.
The Henrys’ Plant Farm/ Earth Flowers
“We have beautiful plants — everything looks so great,” says Marcia Henry of The Henrys’ Plant Farm. The farm is posting pictures to social media to share the views, and Henry says she wishes people could see it in person. Instead, for everyone’s safety, the farm has set up an online store to allow customers to get the plants they need. The farm sells a wide range of vegetables, herbs and flowers.
The Henrys’ Plant Farm’s online store allows customers to pick out what they want, pay online and drive through to pick it up.
The other part of the shopping experience at The Henrys’ Plant Farm has always been the farm’s animals. Don’t worry — they’re still visible from the circle drive. Henry says some customers come as a family (everyone remains in the car) and look for the turkeys, peacocks, alpacas and other animals as they drive through.
Earth Flowers, which operates out of the same facility as The Henrys’ Plant Farm, is operating in a similar fashion. One of the owners, Jozie Schimke, says the business is offering succulents, roses, and shrubs online. Orders from The Henrys’ Plant Farm and Earth Flowers can be picked up together.
Henry and Schimke note that they are only posting plants to the online listings when those plants are ready for sale. Specifically, tomatoes, peppers and similar plants have yet to be listed but can be expected on the site in a few more weeks.
One Heart Farm & Nursery
One Heart Farm & Nursery is the only other local garden center with full-service online ordering. It is also allowing limited in-person shopping. The business is asking customers who wish to visit the facility to make appointments via the website to limit traffic in the facility at any given time.
“We just want to keep offering quality flowers and plants and get things to people who want them,” co-owner Pete Flory said.
One Heart Farm offers vegetables, herbs, flowers, tropicals and a limited selection of trees and shrubs.
Vinland Valley Nursery
Most garden centers are taking the approach of limiting on-site shopping and letting customers order over the phone or via email. Vinland Valley Nursery in rural Douglas County is one of the centers operating in this manner. Its plants have been moved out of the greenhouse for outdoor shopping.
“It’s easy for us,” co-owner Amy Albright said. “Traffic is light, and we have lots of open space.”
The nursery is allowing people to pay over the phone if they prefer it to stepping inside the barn.
For those who prefer curbside pickup or delivery, lists of plant species are available online. Vinland Valley Nursery offers vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs, fruit and ornamental trees. Albright says her nursery sells fewer annual flowers than some of the other centers. Vinland Valley Nursery uses organic potting mix and organic fertilizer, and its plants are grown without the use of conventional pesticides. It also offers some native perennials, shrubs and trees.
Clinton Parkway Nursery
Clinton Parkway Nursery is operating similarly to Vinland Valley Nursery, with plants being moved outside for shoppers.
“Most of our stuff is in open air with lots of space around,” said owner Ann Peuser. She said a lot of things are being ordered via email or phone for curbside pickup. Staff loads orders into vehicles so customers can avoid getting out.
Peuser thinks this will be a big year for gardening, and she suggests getting things now, when centers are less busy than they typically are toward the end of April.
“You can wait to plant them,” she said. “But if you wait until the last minute to buy them, they may be gone.”
Howard Pine’s Garden Center & Greenhouse
North Lawrence garden standby Howard Pine’s Garden Center & Greenhouse is also offering open-air shopping along with phone orders. Greenhouse assistant Abbigail White said the garden center has all the doors open and is setting up an outdoor checkout station. The center offers vegetables, herbs and flowers.
“We’re just trying to keep a good, positive atmosphere,” White said. “Planting is necessary for therapy for many people.”
Pendleton’s Country Market
Karen Pendleton of Pendleton’s Country Market says garden centers are “needed more than ever” in these uncertain times.
The market is asking customers who wish to shop in person to only have one person come so it can limit traffic in the greenhouse and store. The best option is to check the market’s newsletter and website for availability and place an order via email.
Pendleton’s Country Market has a few things available that can be paid for online, such as a collection of herbs. Plant availability includes vegetables, herbs and flowers.
The market also sells produce and food items in its store. Asparagus should be available soon.
Two other local businesses that offer plants and gardening supplies but are a little different from typical garden centers are Water’s Edge and the Lawrence Landscape Tree Farm.
Water’s Edge is a water garden supply store. Co-owner Deb Spencer says the business is focusing only on essential products right now. Water’s Edge is open for call-in orders and curbside pickup of water treatment products, fish food and similar items to get a landscape pond or water feature up and running. Some plants will be available as the season progresses. The business can also do consultations via email and pictures.
“We hope folks take advantage of this time to enjoy their garden,” Spencer said. “It is a beautiful season. It’s a great start to spring.”
Skip Foster, manager of the Lawrence Landscape Tree Farm, said the business has always operated a little differently from most garden centers. The business grows trees and shrubs and sells bulk landscape materials.
Customers are still welcome to visit the tree farm, but the business is trying to check people in and out from vehicles instead of allowing visitors to walk the farm. The best bet is to check availability lists on the company’s website or call ahead.
Because of the rapidly changing situation amid the pandemic, checking social media and websites or calling ahead is always a good idea. Gardening is still a great family activity, with less focus on the shopping experience and more focus on the home experience.
— Jennifer Smith works in regulatory horticulture and has worked as a horticulturist for various government entities. She has experience in landscape design and maintenance and as an educator
Clinton Parkway Nursery — 4900 Clinton Parkway, Lawrence
Open for outdoor shopping, curbside pickup for call-in and email orders and delivery for orders over $50. Call 785-842-3081 or email clintonparkway@ aol.com.
The Henrys’ Plant Farm/ Earth Flowers — 248 North 1700 Road, Lecompton
Full-service online ordering with curbside pickup. Visit thehenrysplantfarm.com.
Howard Pine’s Garden Center & Greenhouse — 1320 N. Third St., Lawrence
Open for outdoor shopping and curbside pickup for call-in orders. Call 785-749-0302.
Lawrence Landscape Tree Farm — 1193 North 1250 Road, Lawrence
Curbside order and checkout. Pickup or delivery on bulk materials such as mulch, compost, topsoil, and landscape supplies. Call 785-423-5861.
One Heart Farm & Nursery — 1501 Learnard Ave., Lawrence
Online ordering with curbside pickup. Open for limited in-person shopping via appointments, which can be made through the website, oneheartfarm.com.
Pendleton’s Country Market — 1446 East 1850 Road, Lawrence
Curbside pickup for call-in and email orders. Limited in-person shopping. Call 785-843-1409 or email orders@ pendletons.com.
Vinland Valley Nursery — 1606 North 600 Road, Baldwin City
Open for outdoor shopping, curbside pickup for call-in and email orders and delivery for orders over $50. Pickup and delivery are offered for bulk materials such as mulch, compost and topsoil. Call 785-594-2966 or email amyalbright@ vinlandvalleynursery.com.
Water’s Edge — 847 Indiana St., Lawrence
Curbside pickup for call-in and email orders. Limited delivery. Call 785-841-6777 or email email@example.com.