Rare and eco-friendly, organic tulips make up only 25 acres out of the 25,000 acres in Holland devoted to growing the flower that powers their nation. The sustainable variety is able to soak up more nutrients, making them stronger and less likely to catch disease or become pest infested. As one of the only American sources for the coveted vase filler, EcoTulips provides tulips grown in organic soil that is only used once every seven years. This year marks the first annual event celebrating the beloved bloom, with 40,000 planted to create a 10,000-square-foot pick-your-own garden experience. Stop by from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays without an appointment, or call ahead to schedule a picking time on weekdays. EcoTulips also recommends that you call ahead to ensure that the tulips are in full bloom before you embark on your gardening experience.
A family whose love for flora spans three generations, the Stadlers started their plant-growing endeavors back in 1932 when Paul Stadler began gardening for clients in Georgetown after emigrating from Switzerland. Soon, they opened up a small landscaping-and-gardening center, and today—more than 75 years later—Stadler Nurseries has grown to populate 340 acres of fertile land where they propagate native plants, landscaping shrubs, trees, roses, and more than 700 varieties of perennials. A staff of horticulturists and enthusiastic green thumbs helps visitors navigate the vast greenhouses and outdoor gardens, offering tips on how to prune leaves, fertilize soil, and teach plants how to roll over on command.
Each of Merrifield Garden Center’s three locations overflows with thousands of plants throughout the year, encompassing such variety that a reporter for CNN’s Eatocracy claimed “I might as well endorse my paychecks straight to them…because I always want to grow what they've got.” Knowledgeable garden experts, 25 of whom have been with Merrifield for 25 years or more, guide customers through row upon row of flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants, or help them sort through an extensive selection of bulbs and seeds. Visitors may also bump into the founders themselves, or their children and other family members, 38 of whom still work at the thriving business that started 40 years ago. Merrifield doesn’t just proliferate plants, however; amenities such as cafes in Gainesville and Merrifield and a dog park in Gainesville make each garden center into a leisure destination as well. Three of its garden gurus run an hourlong TV show that's been going for more than two decades, and other staff publish gardening advice on the website and Facebook. The staff also work to protect the environment with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. Besides stocking native plants and water-saving devices for their customers, they also compost more than 20,000 tons of soil and 25,000 cubic yards of brush left over from their comprehensive landscaping services every year. The Gainesville location also gathers old concrete, metal appliances, and rusted Optimus Primes for recycling free of charge.
Short of creating physical clouds to hold people aloft, Mattress Warehouse stocks almost every imaginable furnishing to help customers catch a few Z’s. Rows of name-brand mattresses from Sealy, Simmons Beautyrest, Serta, and Tempur-Pedic entice customers to replace their worn pad for new bedding, such as a standard mattress, a fluffy pillowtop unit, or a memory foam piece that conforms to bodies. Beyond mattresses, the warehouse also carries an ample collection of box springs, full bed sets with rails and headboards, and even premium futon mattresses that revitalize foldable couches.
Great Gatherings houses myriad luxurious home essentials for leisurely get-togethers and everyday living. A variety of stools such as the wheat-hued Capri Backless ($159.95) are available for accommodating large parties, or slightly smaller parties of guests who like to put their feet up on another stool. For those preferring higher-backed seats, stylish options such as the Lancaster and Tyler chairs ($199.95 each) are readily available. Great Gatherings also supplies a garden’s worth of outdoor furniture and thoughtful accessories from sturdy chair covers to large Vega umbrella lights ($99). Indoors or out, hosts can dazzle company with miscellaneous entertaining essentials, including Double Swirl 100% recycled glassware ($12.99), allowing them to serve dinner companions and visiting Mother Natures with equally chic aplomb.
Through the doors at Pots and Palettes’, Catherine—who occasionally dons the motherly teapot costume from Beauty and the Beast —cavorts from table to table, handing out friendly advice to children and adults as they paint selections from more than 500 bisque pottery pieces. Catherine and her artistic staff equip budding artists with all the necessary tools, including brushes, kilns, and fire hoses full of paint, to transform blank mugs and piggy banks into colorful works of art. Child- and adult-size tables set the stage for Family Thursdays, and date night on Fridays encourages flirty creativity with a two-for-one studio fee.