McMinnville, Tennessee: Nursery Capital of the World

February 10, 2012

By Jessica Mozo

It doesn’t take long for visitors to Warren County to realize the region is a natural wonderland. With more than 300 nurseries operating in McMinnville and the surrounding vicinity, the city has come to be known as the Nursery Capital of the World. Local growers ship their trees, plants and flowers to customers all over the United States. It’s a trade that has thrived in McMinnville for more than a century, thanks to the region’s fertile soil, mild climate and geographic location.

Debbie Vaughn of the Old Feed Store Antique Mall in Woodbury, Tennessee, stock up her greenhouse at Mary's Greenhouse, Inc,, in McMinnville, Tennessee.

Cumberland Valley Nursery

Warren County nurseries range in size from one-man operations to long-standing family businesses such as Cumberland Valley Nursery, which dates back to 1902.

“I started as a partner at Cumberland Valley Nursery in 1988, and my wife Pat and I bought it in 1992,” says Phillip Pelham, president of Cumberland Valley Nursery. “My wife and I had both been growing trees all our lives, even before we met. Today we’re one of only two Warren County nurseries that specialize in fruit trees and sell them to commercial orchards.”

SEE ALSO: Wonderful Wildflower and Native Plants

Cumberland Valley Nursery grows 1.5 million fruit trees annually in more than 150 different varieties of peaches, plums, nectarines, apples, pears, cherries, apricots and almonds. Phillip’s son Nick is vice president of the nursery and started helping his father with the business at age 19.

“I love farming and being outside – it’s all I’ve ever done,” Nick says.

Rows of greenhouses as seen from the road at Four M Greenhouses in McMinnville, Tennessee.

While Cumberland Valley primarily sells trees wholesale to commercial orchards, they also sell to homeowners. “We’ve seen a lot of homeowner demand from people who want a few fruit trees in their back yards,” Nick says. “We can ship anywhere from one tree to a whole semi-truck load.”

Phillip credits McMinnville’s geographic location as the reason for the area’s high concentration of nurseries. “If you go any further south, the climate is too hot, and if you go north, the growing season is too short,” he says. “McMinnville is an ideal location.”

Mary’s Greenhouse

At Mary’s Greenhouse, the focus is not on trees, but on annuals and perennials. The business is named after founder Mary Hamby, who started the nursery with her husband Joe as a backyard hobby around 1976. Mary died in 2009, but her husband and adult children continue to work at the greenhouse, which now has about 20 employees.

“My mom loved plants, and that’s how we came to be,” says Mike Hamby, president of Mary’s Greenhouse. “She liked trying new things, and people showed up to buy them. She loved to dig and weed, which sounds like work to most people, but it wasn’t work to her.”

Mike runs the business with help from his dad, brother Gary, wife Beth Hamby, sister Beth Jacobs and sister-in-law Charlotte. His nephew, Scott, works at the greenhouse part-time.

“We grow a huge variety of annuals and perennials, from impatiens to hostas, and sell them both wholesale and retail to the public,” Mike says.

Thousands of plant labels are lined up in greenhouses at Mary's Greenhouse, Inc,, in McMinnville, Tennessee.

Mary’s Greenhouse also offers ornamental grasses, vines, hardy ferns, roses, groundcovers, hanging baskets, herbs and vegetables. There are too many varieties to choose a favorite, Mike says, but he is somewhat partial to daylilies.

“We grow a lot of daylilies. They’re a good, low-maintenance plant,” he says. “If I want to get away from everything, I’ll go divide up daylilies. I like to watch things grow.”

Boyd & Boyd Nursery

Three miles away on Smithville Highway, Boyd & Boyd Nursery is run by fifth-generation nurseryman Tommy Boyd. He took over the business in 1988, and it offers a large selection of shade trees, ornamentals, evergreens, and deciduous and ornamental shrubs. About 90 percent of the nursery’s products are sold wholesale to landscapers and garden centers, but they welcome the public too.

“We keep a well-stocked sales yard, so it’s easy for people to drive in and visit us,” says Tyra Green, office manager at Boyd & Boyd Nursery. “I love seeing all the people who come through. We get a lot of customers from Nashville, Chattanooga and Kentucky.”

Orange Symphony flowers at Mary's Greenhouse, Inc,, in McMinnville, Tennessee.

If the dedication of current nurserymen and women in McMinnville is any indication, the region’s abundance of green-thumbed citizens is sure to carry on into the future.

“I’ve got a 3-year-old grandson who already wants to be a farmer,” says Phillip back at Cumberland Valley Nursery. “He lives and breathes John Deere tractors.”

Contact These Businesses for More About McMinnville Nurseries:

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published.
* Required fields

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Comments

  1. debbie pratt says:

    iam looking for juniper shrubs, i will need about 40 low growing no larger than 1 gallon what would be the price and could get them?

  2. Janice says:

    I am looking for a litte leaf linden tree-either a Corinthian Linden or an American Sentry variety. Do you know if any of the nurseries there grow these trees? Thanks!

  3. Kathy says:

    I am looking for a Meyer lemon tree. Anyone?

  4. Kathy says:

    I am looking for a Meyer lemon tree. Anyone know where I can find one?

  5. Larry whitley says:

    Looking for a tree we understand is named Drake Elm

  6. Chris Fox says:

    I am looking for Joshua Trees. Any help would be appreciated.

  7. Gregory Fassler says:

    Hello,

    I would like to travel to McMinnville from Paris, TN to purchase the following:
    1. Crape Myrtles/Ruby Red Variety
    2. Rabbiteye Blueberry Bushes

    Please let me know which nurseries I may contact to purchase above varieties.

    Thank You,
    Gregory Fassler

  8. kathy butcher says:

    I am looking for 25 plus bare root leyland syprus trees

  9. william johnson says:

    I am looking for purpleleaf wintercreep plants in flats.I have 300 sq. ft.
    to cover under a tree in the shade. do you ship UPS? Thanks, Bill

  10. Renee says:

    Can anyone tell me if a Joshua Tree will grow in Chattanooga Tn?

  11. Pamella Eichelberger says:

    I am working on a landscaping project, in which I am adding a dry creek bed. I would like to know where is the best places to buy different types of grasses. I like sheep fescue, buffalo grass and any similar type of grasses. Also which nursery would you recommend for herbs.

  12. Bonnie Cox says:

    Where can I find yellow transparent apple trees?

  13. Dennis Lewis says:

    Looking for a paper-white clump birch tree. Would like to know the price.

  14. B Jenkins says:

    I am looking for NEW Dawn Climbing roses or Zephyr climbing roses .
    Do you know where I can locate ?

  15. SAM GHIANNI says:

    I AM LOOKING FOR A PLANT CALLED PIERIS JAPONICA MOUNTAIN FIRE

  16. Bob Davis says:

    I would like to buy wholesale seedlinks.Can ifind them in McMinville?
    Bob

  17. susan tinsley says:

    i’m looking for source for plum trees, ponder rosea and burbank

  18. Dennis says:

    This is a great article and I know us Tn farmers works hard and sleeps harder.I don’t know a lot about annuals but they sure are nice. Cumberland Valley is a good place. We buy fruit trees from them and they are honest folks.

  19. Char Tucker says:

    I am looking for an old fashioned horse apple tree. Does anyone know where I could purchase several?

  20. Robert says:

    Will Jiro Fuyu Persimmons grow in Zone 5 Naperville, IL? Please advise. I love this variety of persimmon. Is there any other variety that will do good in Zone 5?

    Thanks and Best Regards,
    Robert

  21. Lee A says:

    I’m looking for two plum trees; one red / one purple; one ripening earlier/ one later; 12-15′ trees; sweet taste fresh; I will probably pick them up, as I want to plant them soon.
    Also; a dwarf or semi dwarf cherry. Maybe one red and one purple. Fresh sweet taste.

    Does anybody have American hazel nuts? I would like two or three trees. The kind that are good to eat and look great in the fall.

  22. luther clemons says:

    I am interested in starting a small apple orchard in North Ala. and need some help on the type trees I should buy.

  23. trey says:

    I’m trying to sell my gently used growing equipment anyone know where i could do that

  24. Don Jackson says:

    We have been using Vita Products to help aide in the natural health of our plants. It hydrates, helps plants fight off pests and disease. We use this as part of a pest and disease management program.

  25. mattie thompson says:

    HAVE U ALL HEARD OF A TREE CALL INDIAN PINK

  26. M. E. Keller says:

    We are wanting young transparent apple trees to replace a very old dying such tree. The apples on it are two sour to eat raw, but they are excellent for cooking.
    They usually are ripe by late June here.

    Please respond.

  27. George Ankar says:

    I like to buy some fruit trays and almond trays