Green Thumbs Up
The top nurseries and garden shops in Dallas and beyond
Unless you’re new to earth, you know that Texas is hot. So when fall finally rolls around, we all rejoice and throw on a shirt with sleeves — but we don’t always think about gardening. (That’s usually reserved for that prissy bitch spring.)
However, Internet rumor has it that fall is a good time to plant, according to those whose thumbs are very green and know more about this stuff than we do. Besides, you can’t argue with the Internet.
Of course, you can’t plant what you don’t have, so in the interest of avoiding a yard full of empty holes, why not head to one of these worthy nurseries and pick up some fresh fall foliage.
You might call it Redenta’s, but to me it will always be “the best place to buy plants I’ll eventually kill.” (Trust me, I will. Yes, even cacti. But, seriously, who says cacti?)
Located at the corner of Skillman and Oram streets, Redenta’s is small but mighty. The staff says they specialize in organic everything – succulents, herbs, perennials, Texas natives and hearty plants, roses – but I’ll tell you Redenta’s specializes in creative ways to add some green to your home. There’s even a DIY terrarium bar tucked against the back wall.
But if you’re a little less DIY and a little more “do it for me,” no worries. The highly trained crew loves to pair the perfect plant with the perfect pot. They’re also totally boss at creating what I like to call tabletop gardens – a cluster of succulents or tiny plants grouped together for your viewing pleasure.
Everything at Redenta’s is handpicked, unique and pretty freaking awesome. You’ll find unusual succulents; chunky, handmade pots; and brilliantly colored deck chairs. Plus there are teeny St. Francis medallions to protect your pets.
Ruibal’s is gigantic. I wandered in, looked around and said, “Oh, so you guys do more shrubs than trees?” The nearest worker shook his head and said, “No ma’am. Did you see the back?”
Cut to me peering around back, where a tree farm appeared right before my very eyes. “I see. How big is this place?” “Two city blocks.” Wow. Every inch is covered with something leafy, potted or blooming. Overall, Ruibal’s has more traditional plants – palms, tropicals, annuals and herbs – mixed in with occasional surprises like thunderhead pines or massive topiaries trimmed to look like kittens, bunnies and moose.
Snack fact: Shed 2 at the Farmers Market is an indoor pavilion filled with amazing food vendors: barbecue from Pecan Lodge, butter cakes, tamales, fudge and ice cream. Like for real for real.
Jacksons Home & Garden
Here’s the dealio. This family-owned business started in 1983 as a pottery shop. Yep, a pottery shop. But now it’s oh-so-much more. (I could totally make a “grown like a weed” pun here, but I’ll resist.)
Nowadays, Jacksons is a full-on, super-deluxe home and garden center, with kitchen and outdoor appliances, grills, patio furniture, fireplaces, fountains, gazebos and statuaries. Yeah, there is still pottery on the premises, in all shapes, sizes, colors and — ahem — price points. Long story short, if you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist in Dallas.
In addition to the GP (that’s general pub, like you and me), Jacksons is also a go-to for architects and landscape designers who like all the fancy-pants items listed above, plus the assortment of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, herbs, succulents and indoor plants that instantly spruce up the place.
Walton’s Garden Center
If you’re looking for a place to pretend you’re the lord or lady of the manor, then Walton’s is where it’s at. Wander the rows (upon rows) of trees, shrubs and hanging plants lined with oversized pots and sparkling water features, and you’ll feel certain you need one of everything.
Walton’s specializes in Japanese maples, and it’s one of only a few nurseries that exists on actual soil with towering trees creating a shady canopy. Every February, Walton’s receives a shipment of 500 Japanese maples fresh from Oregon. But if J. Maps aren’t your thing, don’t sweat it. Walton’s is a great resource for shrubs, evergreens and yucca, and there’s a spectacular gift shop filled with ceramic platters, candles, soaps, gardening tools and more.
Rand-o fact-o: As with most nurseries, Walton’s has a design team on staff, and they dabble in both private and commercial gardens. Recently they helped convert a gas station in Oak Cliff into a Laundromat. Say what? Say yes.
Nicholson-Hardie Nursery & Garden Center
Spread out across two locations on Lovers Lane, Nicholson-Hardie – a.k.a., “the best place to cross-pollinate “hoity” with “toity” – will send you down the road for outdoor plants, trees, shrubs, topiaries, boxwoods and an uber-selection of mid-sized succulents. Then they’ll send you back up the road for floral arrangements, potted plants, wreath station, gigantic seasonal display with glittered (!) and lighted (!) things, doormats, placemats, vases, more vases, and then a few more vases. In short, even if your thumb skews slightly brown, the nongarden stuff is worth a stop.
Cristina’s Stone and Garden
Do not do what I did and mix up this place with another nursery named Cristina’s on Mapleshade in Far North Dallas. (It even farther north.) Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have a “not that one, the better one” filter. Sucks for me. Rules for you.
Even though it’s way out in the boonies, you’ll be glad you gassed up the car and hit the road. Cristina’s has all the plants you know and love – like the kind that can survive in Texas. The educated staff is happy to direct you to annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, succulents and hanging baskets best suited to your sitch – dry, wet, sunny, shady, indoor, out.
Oh, and there are three things that set apart Cristina’s. One, the nursery stocks a ton of flagstone, rough-cut stone, boulders and more. Two and three are Cristina and Biggen, nursery cat rescues from Barncats Incorporated. They keep rodents out of the nursery and gladly accept payment in the form of ear scratches and general adoration.
Shades of Green
Voted (by me) most likely to be on the receiving end of a Shades of Grey joke, Shades of Green is sprawled out across 7 acres and tucked alongside a creek way up in Frisco. When you feel as though you’ve wandered into a charming rural town, you’ll know you’re in the right place.
This is downright charming nursery shopping. They probably grow “y’alls” and “hons” right alongside perennials and annuals. Guess what else? There’s a Pottery Barn. And not the kind with slipcovered sofas. Oh no. This one houses actual pottery, including ceramic pots, garden art and fountains.
Of course Shades of Green sells all the stuff you need to make plants, you know, grow, like fertilizer, mulch and tools. These folks are also way into landscape design, and they tout value – so if you’re interested in that sort of thing, then give ’em a whirl.
North Haven Gardens
If you want seasonal pops of color or you like to plant edibles, then North Haven is your go-to. In fact, edibles such as broccoli plants, raspberry bush and apple trees are the nursery’s specialties. And although it is annoying that the street is Northaven and the garden is North Haven, you’ll likely overlook that the minute you set foot inside the gates.
There are tons of flowers, trees, fruit and vegetable plants, and vines to covet. North Haven also has a garden coach to give you one-on-one instruction, plus the nursery puts on classes about everything from properly planting fruit trees to composting. They’re super green, too, in the eco-friendly, earth-loving, let’s-all-hug-some-dirt kind of way.