Echinacea

Raymond’s Garden Center prides itself on growing most of its own inventory, a modus operandi bolstered by a fruitful long-term relationship with Emerald Coast Growers.

“I get plugs from Emerald Coast Growers and grow them to sell,” says Christine Raymond, owner of the family-operated garden center. “We’ve been buying from them for 15 years.”

Raymond is happy to champion the company’s flowering plants, with favorites including creeping phlox, astilbe and Echinacea.

“I probably purchase 90 percent of my perennials from them,” Raymond says. “They have a great creeping phlox we’ll buy in June to grow the following spring. There’s a tremendous variety to choose from, and I never run out of stock.”

The veteran plant proprietor also likes the Florida-based grower’s selection of annual and perennial grasses. All the company’s products are neatly organized upon delivery, she notes, and usually covered with netting for safe packaging during the winter months.

Raymond discovered Emerald Coast Growers through an industry magazine. At the time, her garden center was adding greenhouses as a means of growing its own stock to keep prices down. The partnership flourished, thanks to the grower’s flexible pricing and ability to sell individual plug sizes rather than 500 of one variety.

“The plugs are rooted very well, so within a month, I can turn them around and sell them,” Raymond says. “Our customers may not know the grower by name, because they come in as a plug and we grow them in a pot, but they say how great the plants look.”

Buying plants in plug form — as opposed to a pre-finished product — helps keep Raymond’s costs stable, a savings she’s able to pass down to the consumer.

“My customers are not paying this huge retail price on a perennial, and that’s what keeps them coming back,” she says. “The grower always gets me the product on time when I ask for certain dates. Or they’ll let me know about backorder products that come at later dates. When I call with any questions, they’re always very kind.”