Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shelley's Garden Center in Branford, CT

Everyone has their own way of knowing that summer is approaching.

For some it's when the days begin getting longer.  For others it's the promise of another academic year coming to an end. For still others (the cowboy!) it's opening day at Yankee Stadium.  But for me, it's when Shelley's Garden Center opens every March and begins the season with a colorful display of plants and hanging baskets.

Shelley's Garden Center is located in Branford, CT on Main Street, just off I-95's exit 53.  For those of you familiar with maneuvering the "pretzel" for the drive into Branford Center, Shelley's stands across the street from Richlin's (former site of the First National Grocery Store and in the same plaza of the former Colonial Pharmacy and Friendlies).

The first sign of spring at Shelley's begins with the appearance of the delightfully frost resistant pansy (my friend Beth's all-time favorite!) in mid-March.  Rose bushes along with bags of fertilizer, soil, and mulch products appear next in April, followed by the beautiful array of products that decorate the area now in May.

John and Yvette Chambers are second generation proprietors at Shelley's, and their children Christiane and Taylor, who also work in the garden center, are now the third.

John's dad, Norm, who established Shelley's Garden Center, passed away in August of 2011, and was known to all for his friendly smile, cheerful wave, and helpful gardening advice. Although Norm was given the moniker of "Mr. Shelley", Shelley's Garden Center is actually named for John's sister Michele "Shelley" who currently resides in Vermont.

The congenial atmosphere that Norm Chambers established continues with the generations that follow.

The cowboy and I recently stopped in Shelley's for our "annual red geranium shopping frenzy" and were able to catch up with John and Yvette.  John reminisced about his school days growing up "working along side dad" at Shelley's after school and weekends, and then all summer long, along with his sister and cousins.  John comes from a long line of gardeners and told us all about Uncle Adolph who sold plants and flowers in New Haven, and still more relatives with the same green thumbs in the Waterbury and Southbury area.

We also learned that Norm Chambers  started the garden center back in 1951 selling his flowers, plants, and seedlings out of a parking lot where Branford Jewelers now stands. (Talk about low overhead!)  In 1960, Norm and his wife Marion were able to open Shelley's Garden Center, where it stands today, on the corner of Home Place and Main Street.

There's more to Shelley's than just flowers!  They have a great selection of statuary

 pots and containers

and a full service store that features garden tools and supplies.

Meander along the pebbly path around back and visit the greenhouse

and the neatly arranged perennials, herbs, and annuals that line the trails.

There's always a new cart 

or bright patch of color 

to look at along the way! 

Flowers are found in every nook and cranny

  Take a trip to Shelley's Garden Center and tell them Home Place sent you!

Shelley's is open 8:30 to 6:00 daily.
March to December.
(203) 488-9479

How about you?  Did you get your "Garden On" today?

Home Place will be back to Shelley's in October to feature the garden center's fall pumpkins and harvest display, and in December for fresh Christmas trees and holiday wreaths!

Link to October Recap HERE
Link to December Recap HERE

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