New Vision for an Existing Garden Center: A Third Place
We recently worked with Graham Baba Architects to remodel Browne’s Garden Center in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. The improvements helped fulfill our client’s long-term vision for the Garden Center to become more than place to buy plants and garden supplies – to become a community asset; a ‘third place’ for the islanders, complete with community spaces and a café set within the landscaped grounds of the Garden Center.
Changes in garden center layout, new paving materials, and reorganized display areas improve the functionality of the nursery for employees and enhance the shopping experience for visitors.
We worked with the design team and nursery staff to reorganize the space. Organic-shaped planter beds and gravel paths were replaced with a strong linear axis of precast pavers, rectangular planting beds, and merchandise tables. Demonstration and display areas are now easily identified by paving pattern and located in key areas.
Easy Access and Better Visibility
The new pavers allow shoppers to easily access the entire garden center with carts. Staff can quickly move stock from delivery/drop off to holding and then out to display/sales. The simple paving pattern defines walking paths; with the light pavers for walking and dark ones for display areas.
Pre-renovations, two hose bibs and an associated collection of 100’ hoses had to be dragged around the nursery to water everything. During installation of the unit pavers, new waterlines and a grid of hose bibs were added to allow for quick and efficient watering across the garden center.
This allows nursery staff to easily water plants instead of managing an assembly of hoses and connectors. This also put the main system below grade, significantly reducing the tripping hazard that the surface hoses created for shoppers.
The new canopy brings multiple benefits: filtered sunlight for sensitive plants, shade/rain protection for staff and shoppers, extended display space, and draws shoppers in even when the weather isn’t cooperating.
Drawing a Crowd
The Grand Opening drew 800 plus visitors over the weekend. Our client was able to give the community a glimpse of the future for the garden center. During the grand re-opening the temporary demonstration area was busy. Floral arrangement workshops planned for the weekend were completely booked. The new Kid Zone offered activities such as Mason Bee house building, ceramic pot painting, and henna tattoos.
The success of the improvements was reflected in the two most repeated suggestions the client’s marketing director heard during the grand opening – Please add a coffee bar and when can we rent the garden center for events? -- all signs that the improved Garden Center is a center of community activity in Friday Harbor.
Photos by Land Morphology, Graham Baba Architects, and Browne’s Garden Center