5 things you didn’t know about ALLEN & MIMI MARTINSONBy NIKKI ROWELL,
The couple has traveled to more than 40 countries. They have a yurt in their backyard. Allen was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean. Their six-acre yard is home to more than 1,000 types of plants. The couple loves traveling for and camping out at music festivals.
Allen and Mimi Martinson run a one-stop shop for all gardening needs. Martinson’s Garden Works is a family-owned and operated garden center and landscape company.
Garden Works includes 18 greenhouses, an on-site growing operation, design services, landscape company, and a gifts and décor section.
Mimi says their biggest asset is that they grow their own plants on site.
Allen’s father started Green Oak nursery in Jackson in 1958.
Allen moved out to Ridgeland, and he and Mimi started their growing operation. The couple has been married for 25 years.
“We really were growing plants, herbs and perennials and shipping them all over the southeast. Growing bigger plants was our niche,” Allen said of the business, which was previously called Discount Nursery.
“Somewhere along the way, we realized that to be in wholesale you have to be really big and automated or it’s not going to work.”
This is around the time the place began to take on a different look.
Allen and Mimi bought the property and nursery from his dad in 2005.
“At that point, one of our best customers closed his place down and became our grower. Best grower I’ve ever met,” Allen said.
Allen’s dad, Allen and his son have all gone to Mississippi State to study horticulture.
Allen plans to keep the business in the family and pass it down to his son in the future.
Approximately 33 employees make up Garden Works. They have people who are skilled in everything from chemical use to turf management.
A major part of their business is the landscape side, which is comprised of five crews that do installations. They also employ a landscape architect.
“We do rock walls, lighting, irrigation, outdoor kitchens, swimming pools, there’s not much we don’t do anymore. Except maintenance,” Allen said.
When you park outside of Garden Works, one of the first things you will notice are all of the large pieces of pottery that are outside on display.
They sell everything from small pots that can be used inside to large pots several feet high.
Allen said this part of their business has grown as many people have shifted from doing large flower beds in their yards to not having time for it.
So, that’s where the variety of pots come in.
“A lot of people want pots by their door or by the swimming pool. We’ve grown the business to suit demand,” Mimi said.
In addition to the variety of flowers and plants on hand at Garden Works, they also sell herbs and vegetables.
Not only will they design a complete plan for your yard and come in and set it up, Mimi can take photos of your space and help pick out pots and plants that would work well in the area you have available.
They can help design a look and help plant what customers select, or just help them pick it out and let the customer do their own thing.
Allen and Mimi also try to keep a full selection of houseplants in the atrium.
The couple travels all over the country in search of inspiration not only for new plants, but also for ideas for how these plants are used. “People walk in and say, ‘Where am I?’” Allen said. “It’s like taking a trip and never leaving the farm. People come just to walk around.”
Gardening can be challenging, and Garden Works aims to help in that area too.
They will work to solve a customer’s soil issues and educate on when is the best time to plant. They can help diagnose lawn problems and figure out a plan for what to do about it. Allen said they always help to avoid chemicals.
“We try to get people there without using chemicals,” Allen said. “Strong healthy plants are the best way to control weeds. Timing is everything. If you’ll do things by the calendar and stay consistent, chemicals aren’t usually necessary.”
“Our focus is educating people. We really do love plants and love to garden. We want people to be successful,” Mimi said.