Con­jure up in your mind your last visit to a gar­den cen­ter. What was it like?

Chances are good that it smelled a lit­tle funny—maybe like chem­i­cals. There were piles of seed, soil, rocks on pal­lets. A vari­ety of plas­tic pots were piled on industrial-looking shelves. Tools hung on peg­boards. Rows and rows of plants were lined up like lit­tle green soldiers.

If you believe the sur­veys that say more than three-quarters of Amer­i­can adults claim to do some gar­den­ing, it’s astound­ing that our shop­ping resources are so mea­ger and devoid of style.

Finally, those clever mar­keters that cre­ated the dis­tinc­tive, hip brands Anthro­polo­gie and Urban Out­fit­ters have decided to tackle the gar­den mar­ket and inject some style. And not a minute too soon, for my taste.

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Ear­lier this month, they opened Ter­rain at Styer’s, the first store in a whole new gar­den cen­ter con­cept. Accord­ing to John Kin­sella, Terrain’s man­ag­ing direc­tor, the goal of Ter­rain is to be a “des­ti­na­tion” rather than the typ­i­cal drive-by pit stop visit to most gar­den centers.

Ter­rain at Styer’s is located in Con­cordville, PA, 20 min­utes south of Philadel­phia. It is a mas­sive five-acre com­plex with 19,000 square feet under roof. In addi­tion to the out­door nurs­ery, Ter­rain has books, home décor, light­ing, table­ware, indoor plants and trop­i­cals. Tired of shop­ping? Have lunch at the café, where foods are locally sourced. Need some help get­ting started? Call on their land­scap­ing and design professionals.

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Kin­sella says that peo­ple typ­i­cally stay at Ter­rain for three to five hours. Prod­ucts include items sourced from all over the world that you wouldn’t see at other gar­den centers.

If we were to be com­pared this to another gar­den cen­ter, women would feel this is a more acces­si­ble expe­ri­ence than going to a typ­i­cal gar­den cen­ter or a big box store,” said Kin­sella. “There is more atten­tion to pre­sen­ta­tion. It’s a voy­age of dis­cov­ery with inter­est­ing ways of pre­sent­ing prod­ucts that will inspire people.”

Unlike Anthro­polo­gie and Urban Out­fit­ters, which were built from the ground up, the Ter­rain stores will part­ner with exist­ing local gar­den cen­ters to cre­ate the Ter­rain brand. Kin­sella wasn’t dis­clos­ing future loca­tions, but he did say that they expect a new Ter­rain to be open by year’s end.

I put in my bid with Kin­sella for Calvert County, Mary­land, where I live and gar­den. He’s a nice man, so he didn’t shoot me down on the idea that I could get my own Ter­rain. But he did say that they are look­ing at places where peo­ple are doing some seri­ous gar­den­ing. Philadel­phia, home of the most elab­o­rate flower show in the U.S., made the Penn­syl­va­nia loca­tion logical.

Kin­sella says Terrain’s mar­ket is “every­one.” While that sounds nicely demo­c­ra­tic, I sus­pect that the real mar­ket for now is the gar­den styl­ista with some money to spend.

There will always be peo­ple who pre­fer the util­i­tar­ian nature of the big box store gar­den depart­ment. But if Ter­rain can make gar­den­ing hip and styl­ish, maybe it will ignite a hot new wave of gar­den­ing enthusiasm.

I’m all for that. I’m also all for shop­ping. Road trip anyone?

Robin
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Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, will be released later in 2014 from Taunton Press.

Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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