Sandy's Plants, Inc. is a family-owned perennial wholesale and retail nursery that has been in operation since 1979 in Mechanicsville, VA.
The company began as a hobby and has evolved into a perennial nursery that serves garden centers and landscapers in four states and boasts one of the largest selections of perennials on the East Coast.
In 1979, Sandy McDougle was perfectly content as a Special Education teacher and she and husband, Wayne, had just moved into a new home. Sandy's love of gardening had led her to spend an extensive amount of time and money establishing perennial gardens at their previous house, so you can imagine her disgust when she drove by that previous house and saw all of her wonderful perennials lying in a discarded pile on the driveway waiting to be replaced by meatball-shaped shrubs.
When her mother moved a year later, Sandy was determined that her mother's perennials would not meet the same horrible fate. So she dug up her mother's perennials including creeping phlox, which she lined out in the front yard of her newly built home until she could have time to establish her borders. The next spring, someone from a local garden center happened to wander up her driveway looking for a nearby pick-your-own strawberry operation and spotted the phlox in bloom. He offered Sandy money for every creeping phlox that she could dig and put in a cardboard berry basket. Her two children, Ryan, 8 and Mitzi, 6, were enlisted to help dig the phlox in the morning before school and to help with the deliveries after school.
The business continued to grow slowly starting with four production beds and the occasional help of after-school kids. It wasn't until eight years later that Sandy decided to give up her teaching job and take on Sandy's Plants as a career.
Today, thirty years later, the nursery is still a family operation. Sandy's daughter, Mitzi (remember she started at age 6) is the company's CEO and her son-in-law, J.R. is the CFO. Together, along with Sandy, they have turned what began as a hobby into a highly successful and respected company that grows over 1600 varieties of perennials on more than 30 acres.
These days Sandy continues her search for "rare and unusual perennials", testing many of them in her own borders to determine their distinct characteristics and to ensure that only the best plants are chosen for production. Each year plants are evaluated to determine their strength, adaptability and suitability for growing in this region. Sandy also enjoys frequent visits to garden centers to chat with their buyers and to show them interesting plants that are available.
The nursery is open year round and offers an excellent availability, especially to landscapers during the winter months. A unique aspect of the nursery, which is open to retail and wholesale customers, is that golf carts are provided for them to drive around the nursery to pick out their plants. Each variety of plant is labeled with a sign that includes a picture and cultural information to help them make their choices.