2014-05-22 / Front Page

Planting Time: Best Choices for Your Garden

By Cynthia Gibson

The most important bit of information I can impart for this spring is to run – do not walk – to the local nurseries. The warmth of the sun becomes steadier and steadier daily, and the time to plant is now. Our chances of having a late frost (I am crossing my fingers), hopefully, are nonexistent.

Each garden center on and off Aquidneck Island has its very own specialties and personality. Some are simpler and smaller than others, while a certain few are large with an expansive selection of plants and trees. After visiting many this spring, I am convinced we have the best gardening centers in the Northeast.

The owners of these nurseries really do their homework on what the customer wants, and all put out the newest varieties of annuals, perennials, and vegetables. The return of the small home orchard is evidenced by the number of fruit trees now being sold in all of our garden centers.


Jordan Parris from Narragansett eyes the plants at the Farmer’s Daughter for a fairy garden. Who wouldn’t love the small colorful trellises? (Photo by Cynthia Gibson) Jordan Parris from Narragansett eyes the plants at the Farmer’s Daughter for a fairy garden. Who wouldn’t love the small colorful trellises? (Photo by Cynthia Gibson) For containers, garden ornaments, and garden features (fountains and birdbaths), you cannot find better options than those for sale just a short distance from your home.

If you are looking for a large to gigantic statement piece for your garden, visit Aardvark Antiques. They have a huge selection in terra cotta, bronze, all types of wood, and cement. It is your one-stop shop for a beautiful garden ornament.

Moore Blooms is a charming facility that offers a full array of annuals, pre-planted pots of lettuces, tomato plants, and standard rose bushes (roses grown on one trunk). They are ready to plant and look as if they are perfect for an “Alice in Wonderland” croquet party.

The Maher Center on Aquidneck


Tumbling Toms Tumbling Toms Avenue is the garden center with soul. Lori Scionti, the head grower and manager, tells us, “We grow more than 90 percent of our plants from seeds or cuttings, as well as provide employment for more than a dozen clients with developmental disabilities.”

Their herbs are carefully potted, and each one is not only tagged with its name, it comes with a recipe.

Behind the well-cared-for yellow fa├žade are five greenhouses filled with hanging baskets. They supply the Fourth of July baskets for the famous Bristol parade route.

Chaves Garden Center in Middletown is well known for its trees. What is especially helpful is that they display the plants and trees in a manner that gives you an idea of how they may look in your yard.

Chaves also has the best selection of gardening nuts and bolts; they offer a large selection of topsoil, potting soils, and mulch, and literally have walls of seeds. They have a superb collection of vegetable plants, herbs, perennials and annuals; the dahlias varieties are spectacular as well. If you are looking for more exotic plants, check out their greenhouse.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. For those traveling off island for flora, visit The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown. This is the largest of all of the garden centers and boasts a vast assortment of vegetable plants.

Sue Champagne, the manager and creative director, tells us that they work year-round on keeping up with the latest garden trends. When you walk around the grounds of the Farmer’s Daughter, you know it is a special place.

Walking into any of these magical garden centers will make you happy. The smell of the earth, the feel of the humidity in the greenhouses, and being surrounded by nature and beauty is well worth a visit. How can you resist?

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