The last two years have seen a boom of interest in home improvement and gardening. With newly expanded facilities, Settlemyre Nursery is more than ready for the increased demand. New gardeners are joining the existing customers who have endorsed the nursery’s excellent reputation for almost 50 years.
Brandon Settlemyre owns and operates the nursery with his wife, Michelle. He attributes their success to establishment experience, customer service, diversity of products, and staffing expertise. Now the largest ornamental nursery in western North Carolina, drawing customers from throughout the Catawba Valley, Settlemyre has everything in place to support well-practiced and novice gardeners. Brandon says statistics show there are about 18 million new gardeners in the country. And it doesn’t seem like a passing fad — indications are most of these converts are going to stick with it.
“We’ll see how 2023 goes from a gardener’s viewpoint, especially now with inflation and the rising cost of food. You’re probably going to see more people lean toward growing their own edibles,” Brandon said. He keeps his ear to the ground to make sure the nursery is providing the services and products that tomorrow’s customers will want. With 12 acres of growing fields and 16,000 square feet of shaded growing and display area, Settlemyre is able to provide customers with the advantage of locally grown plants. That includes all the traditional favorites, along with the native plants that are gaining in popularity, such as Aphrodite sweetshrub, autumn fern, butterfly bushes, oakleaf hydrangeas, and perennials like butterfly weed, coreopsis, and coneflowers. In addition, the nursery has expanded its product lines in soils, fertilizers, house plants, along with garden decor and pottery.
On the personal side, the Settlemyres recently welcomed a new son, joining his two older brothers as possibly the fourth generation of Settlemyres in the nursery business. The nursery was established in 1973 by Brandon’s grandfather, Loyd. At 58, Loyd might not have considered opening a new business but for the urging of his son, Robert.
“My father was the youngest out of seven, and he had the persuasion that they should take their land by the creek and try to start doing some hobby gardening, as well as plants and shrubs, and it all stemmed from there.” Having grown up in rural North Carolina in the Depression era, Loyd was an adept and able part-time farmer all his life. But it was Robert who took horticulture classes and saw the potential for raising plants on a commercial basis.
As for Brandon, “I’ve been around it ever since I could remember. I knew plant names by the time I was five or six years old and helped sell on Saturdays when I was seven and eight years old. So I basically had horticulture bred into me.” But he did take another career path at first. Brandon built a successful business in the high-performance automotive sector, which he did for over 13 years. When his father developed health problems and began to consider closing or selling the nursery, Brandon and Michelle had a difficult decision to make. “I knew there was a lot of potential,” Brandon said. But still, there were plenty of long nights debating the pros and cons before eventually selling their existing business and investing in the nursery eight years ago. They haven’t looked back since and have moved the business forward with the physical expansion, a strong online presence, and technology to enhance their landscape planning services.
Customers have filled pages with their appreciations of the skill and care of Brandon, Michelle, and the staff at Settlemyre. One customer expressed heartfelt thanks to Michelle for nursing a treasured peace lily back to health after a cross-country move. Many appreciate the consultations and guidance about their ambitious landscaping plans and the way Settlemyre Nursery helped them get great results and do more than they thought possible.
Customer service is paramount at Settlemyre. “How we work with customers is in large part helping build people’s confidence in themselves as gardeners. Sometimes I think people are timid or a little daunted trying to keep something alive, so we spend a lot of time making sure they feel capable. Our knowledge base here is important,“ said staff member Beth, who holds a master’s degree in Agriculture, “but it’s also our communication with customers and our availability for them. We want the plants to do well in the landscape, so we definitely spend time educating and helping people pick the right plant for the right spot. And when they get a good result, they remember us and come back.”
Along with all of the personal, hard-won expertise and experience with plants, how to care for them, and knowing what conditions suit certain plants, Settlemyre has other tools to help customers design their outdoor space. One popular service is the Sketch and Go that allows customers to create a landscaping plan. They bring in photos, measurements, and information such as sun exposure. Combining that information with the customer’s vision of what they want the area to look like, Settlemyre creates a guide and solid instructions on how to get there. “It allows you to leave with the right products, plants, soil, fertilizers, mulch, and whatever else you may need to make sure that you get a proper landscape,” Brandon said. It’s a great service for do-it-yourself people who are pro-active and willing to put in the work to plant, but just need some guidance to ensure they have a good plan for success. Sketch and Go is a free service. A more elaborate plan with digital renderings of how the landscape will look in future years is also available. “There are some folks who do want the digital rendering,” Brandon said. “They want to see what it will look like in three to five years.” With either the Sketch and Go service or the digital rendering, your landscape is guaranteed to be exactly what you envision!
Settlemyre Nursery is bringing out a large selection of fall inventory over the next several months. So get those ornamental trees, flowering pansies, mums, violas, snapdragons, cabbages, and kales. There is plenty of additional decor, too, from pumpkins and gourds to cornstalks and straw bales. Whether you are just visiting to look, to purchase a few houseplants, or you want a full landscaping plan, Settlemyre Nursery is just down the road, a half-mile off I-40.
Settlemyre Nursery LLC
1387 Drexel Road • Valdese, NC 28690
Mon-Fri 8-5:30 • Sat 8-2 • Sun Closed