In the garden with Valley Growers

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If you are planning to vamp up your yard this fall – look no further than Valley Growers.

Valley Growers, located at 1108 W Main Street in Lebanon, is a one-stop shop for everything you’ll need – and many other things you’ll simply want. Over ninety percent of their plants are grown in their main greenhouses in Pall Mall,
Tennessee. Bob Pyle started the business 37 years ago and they now have five retail locations in Lebanon, Pall Mall, Farragut, and Murfreesboro.

The Lebanon location opened nine years ago at the encouragement of Pyle’s sister-in-law, Janet McCluskey. “I told him that we needed something in Lebanon that people can drive by and see,” McCluskey said. McCluskey oversees the operation – and divides her time between working at the
retail shop, buying, communicating with vendors, and other aspects of management.

“We have grown and grown,” she added. “This year we doubled our size and expanded to the lot behind us.” Amy Shaw has worked at Valley Growers as a daily manager for the last few years. She took the job on a whim, not knowing much about gardening; however, planting quickly became a passion.

“A dear friend called me when they were looking for help. I wasn’t into plants until I worked here. She said, ‘If you know how to hold a hose, I’ll teach you how to water,’” Shaw recalled with a laugh.

After much “trial and error” in her own yard, on the job training, and even a few Google searches – Shaw now refers to gardening as “dirt therapy.”

“There is just something about it,” she said. “It is hard to explain, but it has become my passion.”

This year, in particular, she and McCluskey witnessed it become a passion for others.

“I’ve seen a lot of first-time gardeners this year (because of COVID 19 and more people staying home),” Shaw shared. “I think a lot of people are home working inside or outside of their homes and doing what they’ve not had a chance to do. We tell them to just get out there and get their hands dirty.”
McCluskey said this year has been extremely profitable for the business because they were allowed to be open during the quarantine. “Anything agriculture is considered an essential business,” McCluskey explained. “We are averaging 50 new customers every week and they are not just from Lebanon.

We are seeing new customers from Mount Juliet and Smith County. That amazes me.”
Valley Growers opens seasonally from mid-March until mid-November. They carry a wide variety of annuals and perennials, soil, fountains, pottery, and décor. Shaw said the shop has the largest selection of annuals, perennials, veggies, and herbs with a selection of specialty items such as orchids, hydrangeas, and roses. As fall approaches, they shift to mums, pansies, violas, and cold crops like lettuce and Brussel sprouts.

“Right now it is all about mums, mums, and mums,” Shaw said. “Usually in September and October, people are cleaning out their beds because a lot of their annuals have started to look tired.” Mums are a perennial – meaning they
regrow every spring. Valley Grower offers red, yellow, orange, purple, bronze, pink, and white mums – with yellow and orange being best sellers.

“I think that people are ready for those fall colors,” Shaw said, adding that mums are relatively easy to care for. “They like this season and the cool nights. They take water and that is about it.”

Valley Growers has also added pumpkins, straw bales, and cornstalk to their seasonal display. Shaw said they have a lot of fall décor – including metal pumpkin signs and luminaires in the shape of Dracula, Frankenstein, skulls, and jack-o-lanterns. “We have some of the nicest things,” she said.

Valley Growers is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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