Best Of 2013

Best Garden Center: Hartke Nursery

There's something nostalgic about visiting Hartke Nursery. Perhaps it's the red wagons Hartke uses as shopping carts; those antique Radio Flyers really take you back. Or maybe it's the old farmhouse that Hartke uses as its office. Whatever it is, this sprawling Olivette nursery almost seems too good to be true. Perhaps it is. This spring, the owners of Hartke announced that they may have to shutter the nursery after 35 years in business. The reasons are multitude: an outstanding bank loan, competition from the big-box stores, fewer people interested in gardening. It's all hard to believe when talking to one of Hartke's landscape designers — the ones who'll cheerily greet you upon arrival and dispense enough gardening tips to turn even the brownest thumb green. As you leave Hartke, your wagon brimming with beautiful and healthy plants, you'll ask yourself: Why would anyone shop elsewhere, and can't this local treasure be saved?