We’re giving you an exclusive sneak-peak at a local Virginia business that’s at the forefront of horticulture.
About Bennett’s Creek Nursery
Back in September, we had the pleasure of touring Bennett’s Creek Nursery, a wholesale plant nursery that sells to garden centers and class-A contractors. They have a huge operation and are one of the main suppliers for our garden center.
Bennett’s Creek has been in the plant business since 1974, when Art Lancaster started it all. Since then, they have continually innovated to better hone in on their trade.
Bennett’s Creek has 5 locations. In Suffolk, you’ll find their headquarters and distribution center. The main growing facility is in Smithfield, which is what we got to see! Their other distribution centers are located in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, and Powells Point, North Carolina.
They have over 375 acres with about 300 of those in production. Among this, we find greenhouses upon greenhouses and rows upon rows of plants – a gardener’s paradise.
What goes into growing a plant at Bennett’s Creek Nursery?
With the use of organization, great teamwork, and technology, Bennett’s Creek really has been able to streamline the growing process to make it run much smoother. They grow everything from 6″ annuals to 25 gallon trees – these people are experts when it comes to horticulture.
State of the art processes
Let’s start out with the potting room- which is quite impressive! This machine pictured above is basically an assembly line for faster potting. The conveyor belt moves the soil along and then down into pots. Several people will work at this station at one time to fill thousands and thousands of pots seamlessly.
The pumphouse – the magic behind keeping all the plants watered. It’s awesome to see something as antiquated as farming come into the future with high tech machinery and forward-thinking philosophies.
Bennett’s Creek Nursery also thinks about the effect they are having on our planet. They are conscious that decisions they make will have a direct effect on our local waterways, wildlife, and overall health. With this in mind, they have made their operation more and more green as the years have gone on. Now, they recycle over 90% of their water! That’s an awesome feat, and what we need to see our leaders in the horticulture industry moving towards (also another reason why we love them so much!)
Next, we got to see the Camellia greenhouses, which there are tons of! One of Bennett’s Creek’s many successes includes being recognized for having the best Camellia program in the whole country, which they started completely from scratch. Now they are a corporate grower for Monrovia, growing their Boxwoods and Camellias.
Recently they’ve upped their tree program, adding $300,000 in new infrastructure, in order to meet increasing demands for larger and different trees.
Of course, Bennett’s Creek Nursery would be nothing without the wonderful staff that research, coordinate, and maintain the plants daily. They have a dedicated and organized team that really works together to make all the magic happen! The team remains detail-oriented from beginning to end, from soil-mixing and potting up, to everyday maintenance, to packaging and delivering orders. All of their hard work really shines through in the quality of their plants and customer service.
Just for funsies
While we were there, we got to see the varieties of hops (plants used to make beer) they are growing to trial which does best. They aren’t too sure what they are going to do with it all, but I’d never seen hops growing before so it was really cool to see the growth habit.
Benefits of buying locally grown plants
Make sure to look out for the Blooming and Beautiful symbol below on plants when you buy! That’s how you can know they were grown at Bennett’s Creek Nursery. It’s beneficial to buy from local nurseries because the plants are grown in and therefore adapted to our local climate. Plants in this situation will perform better in your yard and take less time to adjust. Another reason we buy local is to support our community! These people are like family to us, and we love to see them succeed and grow.
Thank you for coming along on this VIP behind-the-scenes look at one of our favorite local nurseries!
And BIG thank you to our awesome tour guides, Shawn Lemke (Vice President of Business Development) and Courtney McCaskey (Sales Associate). We’d be more than happy to visit the farm again 🙂