Cover image for So you want to start a nursery
So you want to start a nursery
Avent, Tony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Timber Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
340 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SB118.5 .A83 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-Small Business

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When Avent announced that he was quitting his job to build a specialty nursery, his former horticulture professor begged his student to reconsider, telling him he couldn't possibly make a profit "without doing something illegal." More than ten years and 20 nursery catalogs later, Avent owns a thriving national business with nearly 30 employees. He wrote So You Want to Start a Nursery to debunk myths about the ornamental-plants nursery business and what it takes to succeed, whether you're a backyard hobbyist or a wholesale grower. (And he still has a clean arrest record.)

Assuming that the reader has some basic knowledge about how plants are grown, Avent focuses on the business and planning concerns of the nursery owner. While recounting humorous stories of his baptism by fire as a beginning nurseryman, Avent also provides a primer on the nursery industry as a whole, with discussions of the merits and disadvantages of retail, wholesale, mail-order, and liner operations, to name just a few. Readers of this book will obtain the tools they need to make a business plan of their own. This book is a must-read for horticulture students, industry insiders, and advanced gardeners who dream of turning their passion for plants into a job they love.

Author Notes

Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Avent founded Plant Delights in 1988 to help fund the activities of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, a display and research garden with over 11,000 plants. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Avent was a student of the late horticulture professor J. C. Raulston, who instilled in him the quest for the newest and best garden plants from around the world. Avent is well known as a lecturer and garden writer; he is the recipient of prestigious awards from the American Horticultural Society, the North American Rock Garden Society, and the North Carolina Association of Nurserymen, among others. He runs his nursery together with his wife, Michelle; they receive help from their cats Diamond, Pearl, Ruby, and Zirconia

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Within the greater horticultural community, Avent and his Plant Delights Nursery are known for taking a high-spirited approach to a business that offers a select inventory of plants appealing to sophisticated gardeners. Befitting Avent's effervescent personality and commercial acumen, he steers clear of penning a purely technical manual, and alternatively presents a thoughtful, realistic overview on how to go about building and managing an enterprise based upon cultivating, marketing, and selling live plants. Avent writes for those aiming high in terms of income, as well as individuals who value freedom over profits, as he explains options associated with different types of nurseries. From the importance of business plans, to essential skills, mission statements, structuring a business, and selecting a site, Avent spells out all the necessary practicalities he has learned from experience and sheds light on the stresses one can expect to encounter as he takes readers inside every aspect of the nursery business. --Alice Joyce Copyright 2003 Booklist

Table of Contents

Preface: Why Ask Why?p. 9
Acknowledgmentsp. 10
Introductionp. 11
Chapter 1 The Roswell Factor: Examining Nursery Mythsp. 13
Chapter 2 Getting Started: The Thought Processp. 15
Chapter 3 The Essential Skillsp. 20
Chapter 4 Formation of the Businessp. 26
Chapter 5 Selecting Your Landp. 37
Chapter 6 The Wholesale Nursery and the Re-Wholesalerp. 44
Chapter 7 The Liner Nurseryp. 51
Chapter 8 The Retail Nursery and Garden Centerp. 59
Chapter 9 The Mail-Order Nurseryp. 70
Chapter 10 Preparation for Growing Plants: The Technical Stuffp. 83
Chapter 11 Growing Plants: The Nuts and Boltsp. 118
Chapter 12 Pests and Pesticidesp. 163
Chapter 13 Running the Businessp. 182
Chapter 14 The Catalogp. 201
Chapter 15 New Plantsp. 221
Chapter 16 Purchasing and Leasingp. 234
Chapter 17 Follow the Moneyp. 247
Chapter 18 Administrative Stuffp. 260
Chapter 19 The Joy of Governmentp. 269
Chapter 20 Insurancep. 274
Chapter 21 Employees: The "E" Wordp. 277
Chapter 22 Real Nursery Owners Don't Do Marketingp. 292
Chapter 23 Service With a Smilep. 304
Chapter 24 The End Is Near: Closing, Selling, or Willing Away Your Nurseryp. 307
Epiloguep. 312
Appendix I Helpful Sources of Informationp. 313
Appendix II Designated Ports of Entry for Plantsp. 316
Appendix III State and Regional Nursery Associationsp. 318
Conversion Chartp. 325
Bibliographyp. 328
Indexp. 331