Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Favorite Local Independent Garden Center

The bloggers over at Gardening Gone Wild recently published a post on favorite independent garden centers -- local, not mail-order. It so happens that two of my favorite local nurseries are mail-order, but one is open to the public 5-7 days a week (depending upon the time of year), and the other has 4 open houses every year.

My favorite is Niche Gardens. It's about 10 miles from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (home of the Tar Heels) and has a lovely display garden and wonderful selection. A lot of natives, but not a natives-only nursery. Elizabeth Lawrence once wrote that few people would buy a plant based on a catalog description. She would have changed her mind if she had had the opportunity to read the descriptions in the Niche Gardens catalogs. I believe that most of the entries were written by Bob, who has worked at Niche for years, and Kim Hawks, Niche's founder and former owner.

I don't have pictures of Niche Gardens, but I do have plenty of pictures of plants that I bought there. :)

Georgia speedwell

Pinxterflower buds

Phlox divaricata 'Clouds of Perfume', 'London Grove Blue' and 'Louisiana'.

Goldflame Honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii)


Running green and gold and dwarf crested iris

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Gulf Coast Penstemon (Penstemon tenuis)

Louisiana Iris 'Sinfonietta'

Carolina Bog Mint (Macbridea caroliniana)

Seashore Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica)

Monarda 'Raspberry Wine'

Chrystanthemum 'Venus'

Aster 'Miss Bessie'


  1. Nice photos. I have always heard of this nursery and I have their website bookmarked. I've not yet placed an order with them. You are lucky to live close to them.

  2. Sweetbay,

    Beautiful flowers...Thank you for posting this, I love Niche, the catalog is wonderful, but I hadn't ordered yet! Catalog shopping for plants is often iffy! Oh to be close to a favorite nursery! gail

  3. Beautiful pictures. Makes me think of spring.
    Also your home is that Western Cedar. I wanted to do this but fearful the wood bees and woodpeckers would eat my home

  4. Those are all grand purchases. I'll have to look up this garden center. It would be about 2 hours away as I live on the other side of Winston Salem but if they have a catalog--then perfect. I have always wanted that honesyuckle.

  5. Hi Tina, and thank you. Niche has a really nice selection of plants.

    Hi Phillip, Niche is one of the best nurseries out there, and I do feel lucky to live close -- we go there 3 or 4 times a year when we visit our old college haunts.

  6. Gail,

    One of the things I like best about the Niche Gardens' catalog is that descriptions of the plants are beautiful, but they don't sugarcoat anything. They tell you what conditions the plants like, and what size the plants will attain, which is very nice.

    Plus, they ship good-sized healthy plants. The only fault I have found recently is that some of the azaleas have been very rootbound. Still, most of my native azaleas I purchased from Niche and they are doing very well.

    I just hope Niche can survive these tough economic times -- a lot of nurseries have gone under in the past few years.

    Next time I go over there I'll have to snap some pictures -- Niche does have a charming display garden with a lot of garden art.

  7. Hi Ernestine,

    I hope you are continuing to feel better, and thank you for your kind comment.

    Our house does have cedar siding and was built in '96. We have not had any problems with woodpeckers or Carpenter Bees going after the siding, although the bees have been drilling in our porch railings and the rafters of our hay shelter.

  8. Hi Anna,
    Yes, I definitely recommend trying their catalog. I have kept almost every single catalog I've received from Niche -- they are a wonderful reference to have.

  9. When Larry and I vacationed at the Outer Banks, we spent a night in Beaufort, and went on their annual old homes and gardens tour. There was a plant that had the word, "pineapple" in it that I wanted to find, but we didn't see many nurseries, and those I did see, Larry speeded up the car to get past them before I had a chance to ask him to stop.

    I love all of these plants you got from Niche. I have a phlox similar to yours. It's a woodland phlox.


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