by Erin McNelis
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It was back in 1939 that the story of Rhoads Garden begins- with Walter Rhoads and William Lukens as a roadside stand selling tomato plants wrapped in newspaper. Today, the third generation of the family-run business offers unique full-service garden center dedicated to helping their customers achieve garden success.
The North Wales based business includes a plant nursery, flower shop, gift shop and boutique and does landscape installations. An award-winning florist is on staff, as well as landscape designers. General manager Michael Kratz has been a part of the Rhoads team for over 35 years. “We try to help everyone beautify their houses, increase the value of their homes, and encourage people to garden,” says Kratz. “Gardening has a lot of benefits that we hope are a by-product of what we provide here.”
In 1985, Walter Rhoads’s sons purchased a 65-acre farm in Worcester to propagate large trees, nursery stock, and annual crops. “We can’t grow everything we sell, but we grow as much as we can,” explains Kratz. “It gives us a leg up, keeps the money in the community, keeps shipping to a minimum, and ensures that the plants and trees are accustomed to our local soils.” In addition to growing locally, the business supports American made products by featuring them in their gift shop and boutique.
One local group close to the heart at The Rhoads Garden is the Eagle Scouts. They assist with Eagle Scout school projects, auctions, and other community events as a way to give back to the community and encourage employees to help with volunteer events.
Besides flowers and trees and that perfect gift for a baby shower, Rhoads offers knowledge. Many staff members have been with the company from 15 to 35 years. They are well established and knowledgeable, to help customers succeed in whatever endeavor they are engaged in. “We stand by our materials, they are guaranteed, and we are more than happy to share,” says Kratz.
As the air warms and the birds chirp that spring is coming, Kratz cautions customers not to get ahead of themselves. “The flowers you can plant this early are limited,” he says. “Certain plants talk to you, and pansies say spring.” Pansies, the little flowers that look like they have faces, are beautiful and can usually survive the cooler weather and a late frost. Another species of flower that blooms this time of year is Lenten Roses or hellebores. Different varieties are available. Kratz sites the Gold Collection of hellebores as particularly lovely. They are deer resistant, shade tolerant, and a unique plant among the first to flower in spring.
In keeping with current trends, the Rhoads greenhouse has recently set up a fairy garden display with old stumps and wood, miniatures and small plants. Terrariums are also coming back into fashion. The business has several unique glassware providers for terrariums and the perfect plants to fill them. In addition to plant trends, buyers for the women’s boutique, one of the fastest growing areas of the business, travels to places like New York City and Atlanta to search out the latest in unique gifts and other products. Kratz assures that it isn’t just candles and China. The section Rhoads Buds sells baby items and is dedicated to stuffed animals, clothing, toys and games. The business is also getting into furniture as well.
“There is always something new here,” says Kratz. “We try to offer our customers an experience that is more than shopping. It is a great place to experience and enjoy the ambiance.”
Support local by visiting the Rhoads Garden at 570 Dekalb Pike in North Wales.