Home Ownership

Garden Centers in Greater Boston

06/11/24  |  Rebecca Taplin

It’s really starting to feel like summer out there! This past weekend’s weather was glorious, and that rain on Sunday morning seems to have made all the plants grow a foot and start to bloom. Here’s what part of my back garden looks like today. The rhododendrons and azaleas give the perfect backdrop for my re-seeded foxgloves (thank you, Burpee catalog, for the seeds I bought during a Covid-fueled haze two years ago). As beautiful as this part of my yard looks, though, my front stoop’s containers are sadly empty. That means it’s time to procure something beautiful to jazz up my entrance! Any real estate advisor will tell you that “curb appeal,” how your home’s front facing and entryway looks, pulls a lot of weight with potential buyers. That also means that even if you’re not selling your home anytime soon, pretty flowers and plants will wow passersby and make you relish coming home to your little oasis this summer. 

Whenever I need new plants, off I go to my favorite place to get them: my mother’s garden! She has been a skilled gardener for over fifty years, and her perennial gardens are lush with native plants that bloom from spring through fall. She is always happy to split a plant and share her experience with me. 


Not everyone has a parent’s garden to raid, however. I asked the other members of Liz & Ellie Local where they like to shop for their plants, and here’s what we came up with:


Mahoney’s is the go-to garden center for many people in Greater Boston, and for good reason. With seven locations ranging from the Cape to Brighton, and huge selections of trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, Mahoney’s should have anything you’re looking for. The quality of their flora is high, as well; I’ve never bought a plant there that has died unexpectedly or turned out the wrong color. Their staff are educated and helpful, too! They once spent fifteen minutes with my then-7 year old kid, explaining air plants and how to care for them. 


Ricky’s Flower Market in Somerville is nestled into a prime location in Union Square (they opened in the late 80’s—a very different time in the city). As a stand-alone business, they supply Somerville’s residents with all the flowers, greenery, pots, and soils you need. Parking is difficult here, so Ricky’s caters to a lot of foot traffic. They’re super-knowledgeable and super-friendly, too. Grab some tomato plants and then grab a meal at one of the dozens of interesting restaurants in the area–or head to Bow Market, get a slice, and eat on the patio with your plants. 


Wilson Farm in Lexington does require a car to access, but it’s well worth the drive. Founded in 1884, Wilson Farm grows the food and plants it sells, so you won’t have to wonder about how far that cucumber or basil seedling traveled! They have a huge farm stand filled with their own seasonal harvests, and they hold special events (there’s a strawberry festival the weekend of June 22) throughout the year. Wilson also sells shrubs and fruit trees, and they have evergreens around the holiday season. Whenever I head to Wilson Farm for “a few things,” I always come home laden with stunning flowers and produce!


Lowe’s and Home Depot are definitely options. These ubiquitous home improvement superstores have garden centers too, and their prices tend to be lower than the aforementioned ones. They also have some incredible clearance deals where you can get plants for almost free! Last fall, I purchased a huge and healthy salvia for $2. There are, of course, drawbacks to big box sellers, including unhealthy plants, danger of bug infestations, or incorrectly labeled items. The workers at Lowe’s and Home Depot are also not trained as in-depth on planning gardens and creating aesthetically pleasing landscapes; but if you have some basic knowledge, and/or you just want to fill a few planters for your front stoop, they’ll do fine.


Even if you’re not “a gardener,” you can still design a yard with low-maintenance shrubs and easy annuals to make your outdoor space appealing and functional. Visit one of the specialty garden centers listed above, bring a picture of the place you want to fill with flowers, and ask lots of questions. Before you know it, you’ll be walking into your yard (or onto your balcony, or even your community garden plot!) with a big smile, loving the look of your garden.


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