If you are accustomed to buying your plants, shrubs, trees and garden gifts at a traditional garden center, you’re in for a treat, darling. Olmsted Fall’s Uncle John’s Plant Farm is as delightful as its name implies and it’s worth the 1⁄2-hour drive from anywhere in Mimi Magazine's readership area.
Jeff and Marcia Hawkins, the son and daughter-in-law of the original Uncle John (who at age 80 still works there occasionally), grow hundreds of thousands of plants under 4 1⁄2 acres of cover, including nine greenhouses 30 feet wide and 450 feet long.
That’s one-and-a-half football fields in length – each.
Unlike a typical garden center, which may offer a shelf of a particular plant variety, Uncle John’s offers row after row of them as far as the eye can see. That’s the beauty of shopping with a grower/retailer. You get a far better selection without the middleman mark-up.
And because Uncle John’s grows virtually all its plants from seeds or plugs, they are more accustomed to Northeast Ohio’s climate than plants shipped in from parts unknown. These include popular impatiens– 10,000 flats of them in fi fteen different colors. “We have many customers who are very specifi c about what they want,” explains Jeff. “There is a difference in a ‘coral’ and ‘salmon.’ Some people can see it and others can’t until you place them sideby-side.” Other popular annuals include geraniums (45,000 in different sizes and colors, petunias, begonias and more. You’ll also find perennials like hostas, coreopsis, Shasta daisies, brown-eyed Susans, day lilies and beyond. Look for vines like bittersweet, honeysuckle and trumpet, plus gorgeous, flowering shrubs, including azaleas, hydrangeas, lilacs, rhododendrons, and hollies plus many more unusual varieties.
Beyond the massive size and selection at Uncle John’s Plant Farm, the true delight is the gift store, also known as the Gift & Garden Barn. Sure, you’ll fi nd unique garden accessories, but you’ll also discover many in-home accents from Root Candles to clocks, plates, teapots, quilts, throws, occasional pillows, even antique furniture and trellises. But perhaps the gift shop is best known for its wide selection of books about plants – perfect for gift giving. You’ll find garden journals, books about all kinds
of flowers and herbs, several on identifying plant diseases and also some on mulching correctly.
But at Uncle John’s you don’t have to buy a book to fi nd out everything you need to know about being a successful gardener. “That’s one of the biggest advantages of shopping with a grower/retailer,” Marcia says. “This is what we do for a living year round and we have an expert staff who can help you with just about any problem. Beyond beautiful, healthy plants, most people need advice to be successful – and we have plenty of that at no charge.”
If you aren’t sure about the direction you want to take your landscaping this summer, you might want to consider taking advantage of the landscape design services at Uncle John’s. Trained landscape designer Zak Kinzy, who has worked for the family since he was fourteen, can help you plan your landscape for a design fee of only $75. Just bring in your dimensions and a few photographs and he’ll provide you a design and suggest plant, tree and shrub varieties. You’ll even be able to see your virtual garden on Zak’s computer – during all four seasons. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to get a professional touch. Or for only $150, Zak will come to your home or business and develop a plan. Compare these prices to upwards of $500, plus you get additional discounts on the plants you choose.
When you visit Uncle John’s Plant farm, be prepared spend a little time. There is a delightful surprise around every corner.