April 10, 2007

CONTACT:  Rob Beets, Marketing Specialist
(615) 837-5160

Indulge Urge to Buy—From Good Growers


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “Everybody feels the urge to buy lots of plants in the spring to brighten up gardens, patios, decks, walkways-- but after you spend a certain amount of money every year just to watch them die in a couple of weeks, well—you learn to fight the urge.”


Rob Beets, horticulture marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture says that success with plants depends on two things: having the right plants from which to choose in the first place, and then knowing how and where to plant them once you get them home.


“It’s so tempting to turn your car toward those big retail store parking lots full of color,” says Beets, “with rows and rows of plants that look great.  But do you know where they’re grown?  Does the person who’s tending that part of the store know anything about plants?  If he does know about plants, does he have time to answer your questions about how to use them or keep them alive?”


“I recommend finding a local plant grower instead of a local plant seller,” says Beets.  “We’re so lucky in Tennessee to have so many plant nurseries, run by people who are all about the plants they grow.  They’ll have a selection of plants already proven to grow well in Tennessee—because they’ve just grown them.  They’ll also have the newest varieties that may have just what you’re looking for—heat resistance, for instance.”


One way to find such growers, says Beets, is through the Northeast Tennessee Specialty Growers (NTSG).  “The NTSG represents is a very diverse group of growers,” says Beets; “Each grower has a niche under the horticulture umbrella, but working together, they provide consumers with everything possible-- the healthiest plants, the finest personalized service, the best educational opportunities and much more.


“Their focus is to promote growers who offer quality locally grown items, educational opportunities, personal service and expert advice, which creates a win-win situation for both the growers and the customers who get to know them.”


Christy Shivell of Shy Valley Native Habitat Nursery and Herbary in Fall Branch, says, “We’re growing a great variety of native plants, and are especially focusing on those that attract butterflies and beneficial insects.  Our herb list remains at about 70 varieties of herbs that are both edible and ornamental.  We’re also growing 65 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and some peppers.  Herbs make ideal container plants, since they’re beautiful, useful, and suited to the conditions of a planter. 


“At our new location in Fall Branch, we’ve added a number of flowers for cut flower gardens, including peonies, delphiniums, lilacs, roses for organic growers—and, oh, a lot more than that." 


“The best thing about buying from knowledgeable plant enthusiasts is that they can tell you how to keep your purchases looking great and productive throughout the growing season,” says Beets.  “For instance, edible container gardens have really different fertilizer and soil needs from ornamental plants, and you’ll need to get those special items and that information so your plant purchases won’t be a big disappointment, later.”


President of NTSG Robin Schell, of Heritage Gardens in Greenville, says, “We hope to sell more disease resistant dogwoods, like Appalachian Spring.  We also carry Kousa Dogwoods, native shrubs and trees in general, plus native perennials and rugosa roses.”


Donna Good, of Good Daylillies in Bluff City, says their operation will host an open house June 22-23, at peak bloom time for Northeast Tennessee.  The event will include drawings for free daylilies.  Then, July 6-7, “We’ll have our annual customer appreciation sale,” says Good.  “We offer selected cultivars at 50 percent off and there will be hundreds to choose from.  That weekend is for established customers only-- but it’s still early in the year, so there’s still plenty of time to come out and become an established customer before then!”  The weekend of July 13 -14 the sale will be open to the public and to Internet visitors.


“Just be sure you’re at the right garden center, with the right expert at your shoulder— then give in to that urge to improve your landscape and living spaces,” says Beets.


For a directory of nurseries and garden centers, including the Northeast Tennessee Specialty Growers, visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Web site at




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