Just in Time for Spring, the New, Improved Ward’s Nursery
There’s always good reason to stop by Ward’s Nursery in Great Barrington, perhaps the largest and most ambitious gardener’s resource in our district, especially on a Saturday in springtime when the chances of bumping into the nursery’s affable founder Don Ward, Jr. are better than usual. Don (below, goofing around in an old photograph) long ago handed the reigns to his sons Mike and Greg, but, as every plant-lover knows, garden centers have a gravitational pull all their own on spring Saturdays. Especially at Ward’s this week, when they officially cut the ribbon on a renovation that has been in the works for over a decade.
“About twelve years ago, we decided the whole site had to be redesigned,” says Mike Ward. Since its founding 1957, Ward’s had grown, one awkward add-on at a time. “The problem with add-ons is they create walls where you don’t want them,” says Mike. With the help of architect Anthony Barnaba of Blueline Design, the Wards came up with a master plan, the first couple of phases of which (moving the driveway and adding a 10,000 square foot greenhouse in back) were accomplished some years ago. This Saturday’s celebration honors the impressive final phase completed over the past winter—updates of the counter and houseplant areas and, among other improvements, adding an additional 4,500 square feet of display space that profoundly impacts the impression the store makes from the road. “Before people would drive by and maybe not know what business we were in,” says Mike. “It may have looked more like a farm stand than a plant nursery.”
Not anymore. With double greenhouses facing the road, Ward’s purpose is unmistakable. Inside, the only solid wall separating the various departments is made of glass, which has the double benefit of opening sight lines even as it permits daylight to penetrate to the center of the building, reducing dependence on artificial light. This is but one of many new “green” features—radiant heat fueled by natural gas, a rainwater collection system, new recyclable glass replacing old petroleum-based plastic in the greenhouses. The upshot: despite additional space that brings the footprint up to approximately 20,000 square feet, the store’s carbon imprint and its operating costs are reduced. (Solar panels are still in the works.)
More space, naturally, means even more plants. Ward’s has always led the pack in their selection of tropical indoor plants (where else around here can you find a Meyer lemon tree?); now there’s space for still more. In fact, according to Mike (far left with his brother Greg), “There will be a little bit more of every plant category, as well as more outdoor furniture and other patio items.” As if further enticement were required, the first fifty gardeners who turn up on Saturday will be rewarded with a gift.
Ward’s Nursery and Garden Center
600 Main Street,Great Barrington; 413.528.2884
Open year ‘round; July - April, 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
May & June, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.