Last weekend Mimi and I drove to Nashville. One of our suppliers hosted an expo in the Music City Center in the middle of downtown. We found a cool Air B&B within walking distance of the unusual building since we didn’t feel like doing the parking fiasco. We were excited about the expo and can save some money on the products we buy for our garden center by showing up and making our entire 2024 order in advance, not an easy feat but worth it. We also saw this as an opportunity to visit some friends while we were in town. The other reason to go on this excursion is just to get away from our regular life and have some windshield time with each other with no interruptions, impossible to do at home. We can’t discuss things at work and we dont do well trying to talk business at home on our one day off together that we have. We are off on Sundays together and we try not to talk about work stuff when we can help it. We protect our precious time together with all we got by leaving our phones unattended and practice guilt free chillaxing, we are getting pretty good at it. Our close friends get it and respect that by not asking much of us on that day. We like to watch the Saints play when we can and plan our day around that. We get a little yard stuff done and a little exercise so we dont feel like total sloths then we let it all hang out.
Our first visit in Nashville came unexpectedly when we phoned a friend to let her know we would be getting in touch next week about a patio that we would be designing for her. When I told her where were heading she told us that her daughter was on the waitstaff at a really cool restaurant near where we’d be staying. We didn’t have plans for that first night so we made reservations. We had met her daughter and looked forward to seeing her and it was her birthday so we gave her an extra big hug when she came by our table to see us.
The restaurant was called Earnests, after Earnest Hemingway and everything was themed that way all the way to the bill showing up in an Earnest Hemingway book. The food was truly incredible and different, my entree was an Oyster mushroom grilled with all kinds of bubbly things going on, it was fabulous and right on time. I say that because Mimi and I were discussing the benefits of mushrooms and have recently ordered mushroom grow kits to sell at Garden Works. There is a lot of buzz in the mushroom world that we are just learning about not only culinarily but medicinally. We have been using Lions Mane and a few others daily especially when we found out that it helps with memory, I’ll take all the help I can get! The kits look easy to understand and we hope we can fit cultivation of mushrooms into our regular routine, I think the grow kits are going to be a big hit and we hope that it helps to raise awareness of the apparent benefits.
At sunrise the next morning we pulled in to the driveway of one of our favorite families to help them cover their greenhouse with a double layer of plastic as they are preparing for chilly weather. These folks are originally from our town and have made a wonderful life for themselves and their three little boys. We have known them since Adam was in junior high school working for us doing just about everything we do but mainly at the growing operation.
Adam went to Mississippi State for his degree in Horticulture and took off like a rocket in his career. Along the way he met and married the girl beyond his dreams. Together they are raising their three boys in a way that will prepare them for real life. The life they have built for themselves includes an organic garden along with room to store their bounties, 5 lamas, a herd of guineas, laying hens, a grape orchard, a cut flower area, a gorgeous barn, you get the picture. Truly inspiring how purposeful every move they make for the good of the boys and each other while being good stewards of the world that surrounds them. We were in heaven.
Everyone pitched in while we covered the greenhouse and we got a very nice, tight pull on the greenhouse plastic due to all hands on board. We threw the second layer on and inflated the roofs with a fan. The double roofs act as insulation against the cold temps that come to this area. We took a break with some coffee and home made goodies then finished the walls finishing up around lunch time, again freshly harvested and prepared from their farm, we felt like we were on the cover of a Garden And Gun magazine, my hat is off to these two.
We headed back to town bushed from the early start and the fun day, had another great meal and made plans for visits to three garden centers that we have been hearing about. We spent most of the day learning more about how other people do it at their garden centers and looking for honey holes that we can order first quality trees and shrubs for the upcoming season, we had great luck with that. We went to visit another friend originally from here, worked with us and wound up in Nashville with his landscaping business. We have traveled some with Scott and his son and have been able to see some of his deck and patio work around Nashville, endless amount of work in that boomtown. They have a great house with a different style, in the woods, he has a very impressive shade garden, a great yurt and raised deck with a gorgeous view. It was really great seeing our oldest friends in Nashville.
Getting hosted by such wonderful people was very relaxing for us and helped to clear our minds from the hustle. The next day we felt really ready to hit the show floor and do some buying for the store, it’s important to start a day like that with a refreshed mind as we were about to spend some major bucks on a years supply of one of our biggest categories. We got there as the doors were opening and had a really easy time with our cleared brain palates. It was a very exciting day and we bumped into quite a few of our nursery nerd friends that we’ve been seeing for years at these shows. It’s great to spend time with fellow nurserymen and discuss patterns and trends and to hear that we all face similar business situations. We found a great meal again, this time with amateur all female bands playing their country music. Each band played 4 or 5 songs then let the next group come on and do their thing. While we sat there outside we realized that it was actually getting a little cool, a sign of things to come for us!
Nashville was done up with pumpkins, mums and a very nice landscape style. Unfortunately they experienced a relatively hot summer like us so they had plants dying to a lesser degree than us but still visible. I guess that summer beat up the plants all around the country making me wonder if plant supply will get tricky while plants get replaced all over the southeast. Southerners are going to replace their dead plants because we care about that as much as good eating so I am going to buy up scores of plants every chance I get to prepare for the planting seasons. We will all learn together how to navigate our gardening while we hold our breath and keeping an eye on old man winter.
The next day we had 6 hours of ride time filled with exciting ideas for the nursery. We were clear headed and had positive vibrations around the same things that we felt stuck in the mud about on the ride to Nashville. Our friends inspired us, Nashville was gleaming, the nursery visits were as good as we hoped and we have new products coming our way. Mission accomplished!