Who does not enjoy exploring a new garden center? On Sunday morning, the final day of the Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling, my group’s first stop was Merrifield Garden Center in Gainesville, Virginia (though my photos are all geotagged as nearby Manassas).
The site was expansive. The indoor area was filled with an eclectic collection of decorative garden items, tools and equipment.
Even the folksiest displays were genuine and bright.
A first in my garden center experience, there also was a wine section. The selection included many local Virgina wines.
Merrifield’s friendly staff welcomed our group with a tempting array of fruits and baked goods.
Eventually I found the extensive selection of plants.
For the first time during the Fling I began to wish I had driven from North Carolina to D.C. As it was, I knew packing would be a challenge for the flight home so when I came across some Chuck Hayes gardenias, I could be tempted only for so long before coming back to reality.
I had planted a hedge of these at the back of my western border when we first moved into our current house in 2001. They thrived for a decade before several years of severe drought finally caught up with them. Garden centers around me no longer carry them, nor even seem familiar with them.
A helpful staff member offered to ship some to Chapel Hill, something I have not ruled out.
There were quite a few Crape Myrtles, including some with dark foliage.
The flowers on this one were more purple than the photograph suggests. It is named Black Diamond ‘Purely Purple.’
Colorful hybrid coneflowers have not performed well in my garden, but I would be willing to give this one a try.
Merrifield’s does a nice job of grouping plants for display, but what caught my eye here is the ‘Kent’s Beauty’ oregano in the huge container at top right.
The sign explains ‘Kent’s Beauty’ Oregano is an “ornamental oregano featuring beautiful hop-like, blush-pink bracts. Demands well-drained, sandy soil in full to part sun. For those of us who don’t have that sandy soil, a pot is the answer. This one has done well for years in this pot. Display potted 2014. Sorry, not-for-sale.”
Another grouping that was attractive includes toward the back one of my favorites, Aconitum napellus (Monkshood). Although my former next-door neighbor grew it for years, unfortunately I have had no luck growing monkshood. This display also featured several beautiful hollyhocks, Alcea rosea ‘Peaches ‘n Dreams.’ The middle yellow layer is coreopsis with an interesting story.
A hybrid first introduced as Coreopsis verticillata ‘Electric Avenue’ PP24688, this plant is now designated as Mayo Clinic Flower of Hope™. The Mayo Clinic website states Mayo Clinic Flower of Hope™ is an “honorific” title; they do not receive revenue from sales.
To recognize the Mayo Clinic Sesquicentennial in 2014, we looked for a flower that would grow at each Mayo site – Minnesota, Arizona and Florida, as well as the Mayo Clinic Health System campuses in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Result: the Mayo Clinic Flower of Hope™.
The flower is used in landscaping at all Mayo Clinic locations.
Patterns and color in this collection of Elephant Ears caught my attention as I was returning inside to reconnect with other Flingers and taste one of those quinoa mini-muffins. Delicious. Someone took several group shots of us in front of that food table, but I have not seen the photographs yet. It will be fun if they show up.
It was a huge place all right, and with very friendly salespeople. I didn’t look at the plants since I was flying home to Texas, but I bought a few gift items.
Yes, the people were very friendly. If I’d had my car I know I’d have brought some gardenias home.
This was easily one of the most gigantic garden centers I’ve ever visited. There are some pretty good sized ones in the PNW but here in California not so much.
Would have been easy to spend hours exploring.
That was a truly wonderful garden center. I’d be there every week if it were anywhere close to where I live. I’ve been thinking about those dark-leaved crape myrtles ever since that visit. I hope you can get your gardenias!
Kris, I agree, it would be hard to stay away. I had looked up that crape myrtle. It grows to a max of 10′-12′ tall and 8′ wide, so maybe not too tall for your height restrictions. I often hear the term “crape murder” applied to pruning back crape myrtles every year, but on the website the company suggests planting this as a hedge, cutting it back to 4″ tall each winter and the plants re-grow to make a 3′ to 4′ tall flowering hedge each year.
If we had such a great garden centre nearby I would be broke in no time! LOL! Next year you could hire a minivan to drive down there…. 😉 Glad you enjoyed the day and thanks for sharing!
Cathy, I’d be seeing you there every week! We really were only at the garden center for about 30 minutes. Would love to return and explore more, but would be dangerous to my pocketbook.
Wow! I’m going to keep track of this post, I wouldn’t mind visiting next time I’m down that way.
The gardenias look great, I hope you’re able to get a few bak into your garden. I’m afraid mine has taken a turn for the worse with something I suspect is root rot from too much water. It was full of buds as well which makes it even worse. I’m already looking for another one.
Disappointing about your gardenia. Hope it pulls through but it will be good to have a backup. The Merrifield’s we visited is one of several of their locations so you may find one even closer to you.
Probably a good thing you didn’t drive! What did you buy?
Driving would have changed everything. As it was I didn’t buy anything.
Tell you what, next time I will come to your house and drive up!
Thanks for the memories. When I lived in Northern Virginia, Merrifield Garden Center was my place of choice. Most of the plants in my garden came from there, and they gave free courses every Saturday morning in the winter which I attended. Very much a help to help me grow as a gardener.
Fun to know you’re a fan. Thanks for sharing that John.
It sounds as if you had a good time.
Wasn’t that place incredible? And you’re right, they were masters at display. Wish I had such a place nearby. But then again, that could be dangerous to my financial health.
Merrifield’s had something for everyone. Someone posted they used to live nearby and they had spent every Saturday there attending classes, learning all kinds of things about plants and planting.