Party hardy at the garden center?


Allan300 It was a Friday night and my calendar was pretty blank, so I decided on a whim to take in Ladies Night at a local garden center.  And if you can't imagine a cool party atmosphere at a retail garden center, imagine this: The hottest band in town, wine tasting, spiked espresso-tasting, Allan Armitage and llamas!  (There was lots more, but those were the highlights for me.)  And a great turn-out.Llama300

Then I see that some Groovin' in the Garden
is going on at a gorgeous public garden in Richmond, Virginia – great musical events all summer. 

The point is: Turning gardens and garden centers into night spots is very cool.

Photos:  Allan Armitage and one of the 30 llamas in residence at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Maryland.


  1. I love this concept. Like minded folks sipping drinks talking about gardening. How cool is a Llama.

    Wish we could have that in Duluth,MN.

  2. I worked for 7 years as herbaceous plant and marketing manager at a very high end garden center in Exeter, NH ( We threw a cocktail party like you describe twice a year, once during the summer (Moonlight Garden Party) and a second at the holidays. Passed hors d’oeuvres, drinks, live music, kids entertainment … but never Alan Armitage. Homestead knows how to do it right!

  3. This is great, and something we have been doing for awhile with our Creekside Festival. Wine tasting, olive oil tasting, live music, lights in the trees(we hold it at night)etc. Give the community something different and fun to do and they will respond. People are dying for an opportunity to feel good and be with others. This is a great opportunity for garden centers everywhere!

  4. Very fun !
    We have a nursery in S.F. that holds a evening event once or twice a month depending on who is in town to promote a book , a plant or a new something or other.
    Unfortunately this is California and they even charge at Flora Grub nursery to attend a book signing party.
    I rather save $30 dollars ( plus the $ 6 dollar Golden Gate Bridge Toll ) and buy a few plants.
    I love a gathering of like minded people but $ 30 dollars to hear someone speak to promote their book sales along with a few pastey ‘derves is ridiculous.

  5. What a treat. I believe that garden centers all over the country have the opportunity to be the community hub. They should host events like the one you attended, host seminars, farmers markets and holiday events!

  6. As I’m sure Michelle knows, the downscale Richmond Bridge toll is well worth the trip to Annie’s Annuals for one of her great parties. Though they’re not at night (just not the right neighborhood, trust me), the parties are just as fun.

    Just missed the big spring shindig, but there will be a Mother’s Day thing, as well…

    Plus home made Greek food. Yummmmm

  7. What a great idea! It’s the same kind of thinking that allowed some great independent bookstores to survive–they turned themselves into a destination.

  8. Ladies night at a garden center? Isn’t every day and (and any night they are open) ladies night at every garden center? As a man, I find it hard to cultivate other male friends who are into gardening – most everywhere I go that’s gardening-related seems very women-centric. I get so tired of the little-old-lady-marketing aspects of my local garden centers. A guy’s night at the local garden would be great, but would any other guys even show up? There are many notable men who lecture on gardening, write books on gardening, and run nurseries, but to me it seems their clientele is predominantly female. When I go to a local nursery, many women shoppers stop me and ask me questions, because they just assume I must work there (because I’m a guy)? It’s so frustrating – but thanks for the opportunity to rant about it! – Eric

  9. Eric – I was thinking the same thing – a “single gentleman’s night” might be a fun thing (I’d definitely want to crash) and is really the demographic that is missing at local garden centers. I see men come in, but almost always with a wife. Many men I know garden; I always wonder if they shop strictly by mail or internet. Is gardening a solitary pursuit for them? I hardly see them at local garden club, talks, and other events. Come out, come out – wherever you are.

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