What do you look for in a local garden center or nursery? Do you enjoy perusing the aisles of annuals in order to create the perfect container basket? Are you more of a perennial fan with longevity in mind?
Luckily, living in the Pacific Northwest, as we at Spoken Garden do, we are never at a loss for a local nursery. With a quick Google search, over 20 nurseries pop up within about a 10-15 mile radius of our home. Not too mention, two home depots and one Lowe’s. That’s a lot of competition.
How do garden nurseries set themselves apart from their competitors?
We are attempting to ease this search for you with our review below. We hope this motivates you to discover your favorite nursery or garden center for your needs.
Why review a nursery?
Here at Spoken Garden, we will feature one review per month of either a garden center or nursery, an event or show, a book, a website, a product or a tool. We encourage suggestions and recommendations. Also, we would love to collaborate with any of you advertisers out there who would like us to review your products, tools, etc, (sorry, shameless self-promotion). If interested, just contact us via email or one of our social media accounts.
This month, we begin with a review of our favorite nursery, Watson’s Greenhouse. We can barely contain our excitement! Why is it our favorite? For so many reasons, most of which revolve around the fact that we just love walking around their grounds and planning for our own garden. We are big fans of this nursery, especially the overall friendliness and courtesy they show us every time we set foot on their property. More formally, we based our review on the following three criteria, or strengths: customer service, selection, and quality.
Here we go!
January Review: Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery
First Impressions of the Nursery
As soon as you park your car in their parking lot, you are immediately immersed in the splendor of their environment. Their entrance is inviting and eye-appealing. Rows of trees, shrubs, and roses greet you in the outdoor area. Their open, spacious displays of annuals, perennials, and veggie starts are easy to navigate and inviting. Employees, both visible and friendly, are easily accessible.
You can find just about anything you are looking for as you walk around the nursery, and whatever you cannot find, they will find it for you. And, we haven’t even made it into the main building yet!
History of the Nursery
But first, the back story for all you history buffs out there. Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery, located in the Puyallup River Valley in Washington State, has been in business since 1974. Dan Watson, a retired 30-year educator from the Tacoma School District, opened his business as a simple greenhouse. He began small while still teaching in order to cultivate his passion for plants. In fact, Allison’s own mother remembers Dan Watson as her middle school science teacher when she attended his class in the 1960’s. Talk about a great story! (Read more about Allison and Sean here).
Eventually, his small nursery later grew into the thriving operation it is to this day with over 32,000 ft. of both indoor and outdoor space. Seriously, you could spend hours walking around looking at everything, plus eat lunch! We love it when food is involved.
Watson’s is a well-respected location in the greater Puget Sound area.
The Nursery’s Strengths
1) Customer Service
Each employee shows an authentic friendliness, coupled with a broad knowledge of the plants and products available. Their attentiveness and respect are apparent as soon as you step onto the property. Employees take pride in their curated gardening world of arranged seasonal flowers, herbs, perennials, hardwood shrubs, and trees apparent throughout the whole nursery.
Watson’s employees are always working, hustling, and moving products around all while traveling from customer to customer. Their knowledge of the nursery and its products is top-notch. And if they’re unable to answer your question, they’ll jump on their radio to summon a co-worker for the answer.
Watson’s specializes in customer service, in our opinion. It is their most distinguishable characteristic that sets this nursery apart from the crowd.
The overall selection of different plant materials ranging from vibrant herbaceous perennials, trees, and hardwood shrubs grown regionally to vegetables and herbs are vast and wide. Watson’s also features various succulents, herbs, annuals, grasses, and roses.
Watson’s features a wide array of selections geared for the seasons and holidays. In fact, as soon as you set foot onto Watson’s property, you get an immediate sense of the seasonal touches on display. Annuals, veggie, and herb starts greet you as you approach the indoor entrance. Also, perennials geared for each season are prominent. For example, the beautiful winter blooming plant, the Hellebore, is sold here and on display for winter. We love our Hellebores and bought all of our plants at Watson’s. To read more about the Hellebore, click here.
As you walk the grounds, seasonal decorations and yard art are strategically placed to catch your eye, but also careful not to overwhelm. Watson’s definitely knows how to decorate for the holidays. Over the years, they have established themselves as a must-see destination during the holidays, especially Christmas season. Not only are their decorations and plant material amazing, but they have also taken it to the next level by featuring two reindeer to u!
They grow almost all of their own annuals, including their beautiful hanging baskets and potted arrangements. They display row upon row (upon row) of various annuals of all colors, sizes, and shapes that are super healthy. Full flowers blooming in each pot or just about to burst open! It’s VERY exciting!
If you pick up any plant and examine it, you will see that the leaves healthy with no discoloring or infections. The roots (when you slide the plant ever-so-gently out if its pot) are white and varied, and the numerous flowers are so bright you almost are overloaded. You don’t see any pests on the plants and they are all well hydrated and upright. No Slouchers Here!
Some of the above descriptions you might say “that’s how they SHOULD be”, but not all garden centers are run or created the same. You garden-veterans out there, you know what we are talking about. Wink-wink.
Cutting-starts help to make up a variety of hanging baskets and mixed container plantings. Each seedling and pony-pack is full and healthy looking. We cannot stop ourselves each spring season as we literally load up on multiple fuchsia baskets to hang around our yard because they are incredibly beautiful and the quality is outstanding. Our baskets get so big!
They include everything you need to start your own garden, including seed starting kits. The quality of their vegetables and herbs cannot be beat, in our opinion (unless you are growing all the starts yourself). Also, they carry their own seasonal seeds.
Trees, shrubs, and perennials
There are a couple of suppliers used for trees, shrubs, and perennials. One main supplier is Monrovia, a wholesale plant producing leader in high-quality plant materials. Each plant has its own tag, growing and caring suggestions, and has the backing of the Monrovia name. The other suppliers are of very high quality and are held to high standards for health and vigor so each customer can depend on their purchased plants to thrive in their home garden.
Other Nursery Products
Watson’s Nursery and Greenhouse also sells garden tools, decorations, outdoor furniture, and birding supplies. Furthermore, when you are drained and exhausted from all the shopping you just took part in, you can take a load off in Anton’s cafe. You could literally spend a whole day here.
For more on various tool recommendations, especially for pruning your garden during the winter months, check out this post for the 7 best tools we recommend for winter pruning. We hope it helps you.
Nursery Final Report
Each spring and summer season our yard is adorned with huge, colorful hanging baskets and container pots made by Watson’s staffers. We are huge fans of their hard-working employees, their overall selection of products and the quality of their plants. Since they grow most of their own annual starts, we know we are getting quality, locally-grown products.
What about you? What is your criteria for choosing your favorite nursery or garden center?
Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading and we hope we inspired you to venture out and visit your local nursery or garden center. For more about winter gardening, listen to our podcasts or check out our post about how to prune in the winter. Make sure to watch for next week’s blog post where we will interview a local gardener in the Pacific Northwest for his gardening tips as part of our monthly interview series.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments anytime, we would love to help.
~ Sean and Allison