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CARSON ARTHUR: A different type of garden centre


Carson is creating a space that gardeners come to just because they love to garden and want to treat themselves to something special. - Johnny C.Y. Lam
Carson is creating a space that gardeners come to just because they love to garden and want to treat themselves to something special. - Johnny C.Y. Lam

It’s officially time to let the cat out of the bag. I have had so many readers ask me about my garden centre that I feel like I need to explain what I’m creating in Prince Edward County, Ont.

I am a huge fan of all of the garden centres across the country. People who work with plants and help us make things beautiful in our outdoor spaces are top notch as far as I’m concerned. That said, I have a bit of a secret crush on the garden centres that you find in Europe. My favourites are the stores that are purely dedicated to the hobby and the love of gardening. This is the direction I wanted to take my own space. I want a store that I am excited to come into every morning and I stay late because I love being there. I am taking my little garden centre in a different direction than what is already out there.

If you haven’t been to Prince Edward County yet, it is quickly becoming well known for the wines and the farm-to-table culture that the upscale restaurants provide. In 2017, more than one million tourists came to the county looking for a rural experience. I am building on this momentum with the products and the plants I am carrying in my space.

A few years ago, I invested in an heirloom seed company with the thoughts that I would one day figure out a way to sell rare vegetable plants and herbs to home and condo owners looking for healthy ways to add flavour to their diets. On one of my recent media tours, I found a self-watering planter that lets me do just that. So instead of hostas, boxwoods and the traditional garden centre plants, I am providing gardens-to-go, with things like 1,000-year-old pink peas from Egypt and basil from Tanzania. Visitors can pick what plants they’d like in their planters and we will pot them up while they wait.

In addition to plants, I wanted to sell tools. Now, I have gone through a lot of gardening tools in my time, and I’ve gotten to the stage where I am starting to pay more for tools that I think will last longer. I have gone through so many pairs of pruners that I wanted something that would last. With that in mind, I went on a global hunt for tools that are built to endure and I found some that I want to share with my customers. I am bringing in pruners from Japan. The Japanese have taken blades to a different level with their love of gardening, bonsai and precision pruning. From the Netherlands, I have unique weeders, shovels and implements that have a different design than what were are used to in Canada. I also found a smith locally who hand forges shovels, hoes and rakes.

I addition to plants and tools, I am carrying books, planters and more than 450 varieties of seeds from across the country. I want to have a little destination space that gardeners come to just because they love to garden and want to treat themselves to something special.

Hopefully in 2019, you’ll come and say hello, too.

Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer and media personality with a focus on environmentally friendly design and low maintenance outdoor rooms.

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