Ken and Carol Hartman and their dog Bella take a quick break from setting up their new gardening center in Wilmington. (Chris Mays/Reformer)
Ken and Carol Hartman and their dog Bella take a quick break from setting up their new gardening center in Wilmington. (Chris Mays/Reformer)
Friday May 10, 2013

WILMINGTON -- Local Jacksonville couple Ken and Carol Hartman have just opened their new garden center.

"We've wanted to be that business that you don't have to travel long to get a tree," said Ken.

The Hart Garden Design Center just opened last week. It is located between Route 9 east and Route 100 south, across from a flea market that opens in the middle of May.

The couple also wanted a place where customers can come and actually see the different plants and trees. The garden center acts as a visual aid for any design or service that the Hartmans can provide.

The garden center is focused on larger pieces, not easily found in the area.

"You've got to travel an hour and half to two hours to get those bigger pieces for customers," said Ken.

The Hart Garden Design Center currently has maple, birch, pear, plum, apple, oak and linden trees in stock. There are at least 2,000 large pieces and that does not include the smaller stuff.

All the pieces are zoned for the area, Ken pointed out. The pieces are meant to tolerate below freezing weather.

"Since we do services for homeowners and condo complexes, whatever we use, we can pull from here and plant. We know it's hardy stuff and it's going to live," said Carol.

One question some customers have already asked was concerning bushes that died on their property. If the bush is too close to the road, it is at a higher risk for dying.


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That's where Hart Garden Designs comes in. Its crew can help guide customers in their future planning for gardens and trees.

Another question popping up has to do with bushes or plants being underneath a roof that lets snow off. It can crush those pieces.

"We would say, ‘Well, you can put a perennial that dies down to the ground or you can put this springy type bush there that won't snap off.' We get a lot of questions like that from customers," said Ken. "So, we can give people direction on what to do with that."

He mentioned that snow plows and the snow itself are constant concerns from people gardening and planting in the Deerfield Valley.

The property the Hartmans purchased for the garden center was vacant for about two years. The flea market next to it is open on weekends and a few merchants sell perennials in baskets.

"We've only been here at this property for six months," said Ken. "We went gangbusters at it."

The Hartmans have worked in gardens throughout the Deerfield Valley for the past five to six years. They spend a lot of time working with customers who own property near Mount Snow.

The name of their company is Hart Garden Designs.

"We do most of our garden work up at some of the biggest condo properties up near Mount Snow," said Ken. "We do service at most of the condo complexes. We like to think that we are very experienced in our area here. We wouldn't want to direct our customer towards something that they wouldn't be pleased with."

The couple encourages people to come to the new garden center, see the big pieces and not be afraid. The Hartmans have the equipment and crew to service the customer in any and all capacities.

Ken told the Reformer that Hart Garden Designs specializes in planting, designing and maintaining gardens.

"If a customer wanted (something) dropped off, we can drop it off, too," said Ken. "We have the capability to drop off the big trees and bushes with soil and mulch."

The company is also willing to assist with small projects. For example, if a senior citizen needs help planting a few smaller bushes, Hart Garden Designs would do it.

The garden center has aggregates, which can all be delivered to customers. This includes mulch, compost, three quarter stone and sure pack.

"Some of the soil around here is really rocky or has a lot of clay in it," said Ken. "People want what will feed the plants."

So far, he said the aggregates have sold well.

Not only will the new garden center have all the plants and trees, but it will also feature garden accents and antiques. The garden accents include wagon wheels, antique gates and statuary.

The Hartmans owned the antique store at the old bank building in Wilmington that burnt down. They already have some antiques inside the barn on the garden center property and expect more to come in soon.

Carol told the Reformer that she's been planting and gardening her whole life but the garden center was something she and Ken always wanted to do.

"We love it. We really like our jobs," said Ken. "We have two crews out right now doing planting and our guys are like family. They love their jobs. At least that's what they tell us."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.