The Road So Far:
Growing Mitchell's Nursery and Greenhouse
Mitchell's Nursery and Greenhouse, located in King, North Carolina offers a large variety of trees, shrubs and bedding plants along with seasonal vegetable plants and perennials. Many of the locals have shopped here for years for their plant needs and we see new faces traveling through all the time.
Recently the nursery has been undergoing some expansion. With the addition of several acres for growing beds as well as the construction of a new 3 bay gutter-house, Mitchell's Nursery is growing and changing with the times.
Join us as we journey into the story behind the trees...
There is no denying that Jim and Judy have always had a passion for trees. Both shared a love of all things rooted at very early ages.
Jim Mitchell grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. When Jim was still in elementary school, he and his father turned his sand box into a rooting bed. Together they rooted azaleas and camellias and also started a few camellias from seed, which is not easy. Jim and his father traveled around the area and got gallon cans from school cafeterias to pot their azaleas in after punching holes in them. When Jim got to high school he landed a job with a local landscape business. Then, he and his father built a small greenhouse in their back yard. This set the stage for what would become a lifelong passion, turned business.
Jim entered college to pursue a BS degree in horticulture at North Carolina State University. Little did he know that while he was on this path to cultivate his love of plants, he would meet someone who shared his passion. Enter- Judy Jarrett.
Judy had grown up on a family dairy farm in Catawba County, North Carolina. She spent many early days with her grandmother, while her sisters were in school. During these impressionable years her grandmother shared with her, her passion for gardening and flowers. With her grandmother's help Judy planted her first flower bed before she even started school. Within this flower bed they had planted thrift, or creeping phlox that they had pulled up from her house or at the cemetery where her grandmother had planted at her parents graves. Many people would plant flowers at cemeteries during these times as it gave way for flowers all year. It was thought to be a sentimental gesture to take cuttings or rooting from these plants to plant in the yard as a remembrance of a loved one.
Judy's father made a small flower bed under a willow oak in their yard and filled it with old manure from behind the barn. There is where Judy's grandmother began to nurture her love of plants. As her grandmother wasn't able to get down and plant herself, she instructed Judy on how to plant. Later, in a bed her father had made behind the house, they would scatter seeds from four o' clocks and sultanas, which was a forerunner of the impatiens that we know today. After Judy got into elementary school, she grew her love of plants when she joined a 4-H group where one of her projects was flower growing. She documented and took pictures of a large flower bed and won a medal in horticulture at the county level. This was, for her, the gateway to her growing passion.
Fast forward to NC State. Jim Mitchell was on the same path and it didn't take long for their paths to cross while working their summer jobs with the horticulture department at the university. This chance meeting led to wedding bells in 1975. While in college they grew and sold plants at the farmers market at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh.
Jim graduated from NC State in 1976 followed by Judy in 1977. After Judy's graduation, Jim accepted a job with The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, where he inspected pesticides in five counties. This prompted them to move to King, NC. Judy soon took a job with Happy Garden - Garden Center in King. Later, High Knoll Plant Farm came to Walkertown, NC. where Joe Angel brought Judy on board to help him learn the ways of greenhouse growing and give him a firm start in the plant growing business.
Mitchell's Nursery began on a half acre in Jim and Judy's backyard, where they started rooting and growing azaleas in 1979. As time went on they added trees, shrubs and mums and welcomed the addition of a baby boy in 1980. As their little back yard business and their family grew, they needed to relocate. This move placed them on 12 acres in their current location on West Dalton Rd. in King, in 1993. The nursery kept growing and led to the addition of a greenhouse in 1996. It was then that Mitchell's Nursery became Mitchell's Nursery and Greenhouse.
The very first crop that was grown in the new greenhouse was poinsettias. In the following spring, geraniums were grown along with bedding plants. Soon, a second greenhouse was added, and then another. Soon there were five. In 2002, the Mitchell's were happy to welcome their son back home after being away to attend college. He quickly found his niche' with the growing business as he was put in charge of growth and expansion in 2003. In 2003, a three bay gutter connected house was added. It was then that the poinsettia trials began. The trials are how the poinsettia breeders gather their information from year to year on each variety of poinsettia and how they grow and are favored and perceived by the general public. The original two greenhouses were sold to local farmers and dismantled to be moved.
More bays were added to the gutter connected houses to reach a total of 7 bays and garage bays at each end. The Mitchell's have expanded their workforce as needed through the years and have come a long way since hiring their first part time employee in the spring of 1998. Their first full time employee was added in 2000. Today the Mitchell's employ five full time employees in addition to the three original family members and still bring in seasonal help as needed. This family owned business not only sees involvement from the original family unit of 3 but also enjoys some extra help from a daughter-in-law and 4 granddaughters.
40 years and three generations are rooted in the nursery and greenhouse business.
This year has seen even more growth and expansion and is set to lead Mitchell's into the future with the same quality products and great service that has gotten them down this road so far.