For years, residents in South Hall have had to settle for big box stores or make the 30-plus-minute drive to the northern end of the county to find shrubs, trees or seek advice on how to best care for their plants.
Grand Opening Garden Party
Where: Lanier Nursery and Gardens, 4195 Schubert Road, Flowery Branch
When: Noon Saturday, April 14
More Info: wwwlaniernurserygardens.com
Nathan Wilson, a Johnson High and University of Georgia graduate, saw the opportunity and wanted to help the community where he has lived his whole life. With the help of family friends Mitch and Pam Reddick, South Hall residents now have somewhere and someone to go to.
Lanier Nursery and Gardens off Ga. 53 in Flowery Branch has been open for just over a month, but it will hold its grand opening garden party at noon Saturday, April 14.
“We need horticulture,” said Wilson, manager and lead horticulturist at Lanier Nursery. “People have gardens, landscape, buildings and offices. So they need it. I thought if I’m going to stay in this area, which I wanted to, I thought horticulture was the way to go.”
The nursery offers everything from deciduous trees, evergreen trees and coniferous trees to flowering shrubs, evergreen shrubs, large shrubs and small shrubs. And the majority of them are grown locally, even as close as Murrayville.
That was one of the most important things to Wilson. He said he wanted to keep money in-state and support local growers as much as he could. Lanier Nursery also has a special section, specifically for plants native to the area, called Lanier Natives.
“What we’re actually doing is we’re sourcing plant material from growers that we’ve seen how they grow, we know what they do and we like their plants,” Wilson said. “We like the way they’re growing them, we like the quality and we like the diversity.”
Even after attending the University of Georgia and helping out at Georgia Grown, a marketing and economic development program with the Georgia Department of Agriculture in Atlanta, Wilson has never left Hall. He commuted to both places and has lived in Gainesville his whole life. He remembers growing up, going to his grandparents’ home and learning all about plants when he was young.
“You probably do have to be crazy to go into plants, to be honest,” Wilson said. “Maybe I inherited it.”
His grandfather, Henry Griffin, taught him how to till his first garden and plant seed potatoes. He even learned how to plant popcorn — a specific type of corn — that he dried, shucked, pulled off the cob and popped right away.
After his grandfather died, Wilson continued taking an interest in plants. He didn’t want the passion he had when he was young to die. So he carried it with him throughout high school and college and is now trying to instill that passion in others through Lanier Nursery.
“It’s obvious that the people in our area and surrounding areas ... they are hungry for more plants,” Wilson said. “They’re hungry for the information, and I think they realize when they come here that they can get the information.”
Wilson said there are two types of horticulturists: the ones who just like plants and the ones who like plants and people. He’s the latter.
Wilson wants to help people and make sure they’re confident when they plant something. That’s why he’s teaming up with the Hall County Master Gardeners to teach classes at Lanier Nursery.
“If helping the customer takes up all day, then we’ll just stay here a little later at night and do the watering, ordering and plant moving and all that stuff,” Wilson said. “The No. 1 thing is for us to help people be successful.”
That extends to young people, too. Just like Wilson learned about plants when he was young, he wants to do the same thing for the ones that come by Lanier Nursery. He said it’s hard to pass down a lot of things for years and years, but the one thing that can be passed down is a passion for plants.
“Encouraging the next generation to get their hands dirty, get a little dirt under their nails, I think is very important,” Wilson said. “That’s what my grandfather did for me, and I hope I can do that for some out here, too.”