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.
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.
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.