If your thoughts have turned to gardening and landscaping now that the weather has warmed in Greenwich, think twice before you head to an anonymous big box store for flowers and shrubs.
Derek D’Andrea, a Greenwich native, who runs Arch In Bloom on Pemberwick Road, offers a different experience and a different product.
Many of the annuals and perennials at Arch in Bloom are grown in Connecticut greenhouses. D’Andrea’s staff stay busy propagating cuttings and germinating seedlings, nurturing them until they’re ready to be brought to Pemberwick Road. The results are varieties better suited to the area.
When we last visited Arch in Bloom, it was the holiday season. Everything looks different today, indoors and out.
Inside the shop today, there are unique house plants and interesting foliage plants, as well as seasonal candles, forced hydrangeas, house plants, gift cards, greeting cards, fire starters, organic fertilizers and plant treatments. The assortment is constantly changing.
“Every season is a new picture,” D’Andea explained as workers arrived with shrubs. “We’re constantly bringing in new product.”
As a waterfall gurgled near flats of lettuce and Swiss chard, D’Andrea pointed to new shelves, displays, and structures, all brightened by a fresh coat of aqua paint.
D’Andea explained that Arch In Bloom benefits from having off-site farm space nearby in Connecticut. He is able to rotate nursery stock to Pemberwick according to the season.
“All our products are regionally sourced in the Northeast,” he said. “We source from Connecticut whenever possible.”
“All of our products are hand drawn and home grown,” he said.
“We like to provide an experience here as well. It’s not like a normal nursery or greenhouse with 100 of that and 100 of this. It’s about a conversation. We like to use this space to display our ability and design.”Derek D’Andrea, Arch in Bloom
This week, Arch in Bloom is bringing in an abundance of spring annual flowers, including pansies, lilies and Rieger begonias. As the weeks go by, there will be a transition to summer flowers and nursery stock.
“Right now we’re bringing in everything from rhododendrons, to azaleas, to hydrangeas,” he said.
There are also evergreens, including hard to find Euonymus hedges.
“We’re constantly changing,” he said. “We’re also bringing in pottery and ceramics as the spring progresses.”
D’Andrea said shoppers will find the prices competitive with the big box stores. But the product is superior because it is grown in the Northeast and is hardy in this area.
“A lot of our ground covers, perennials, and summer flowers, we beat the big box store prices,” he said. “If you buy something from a big box store, the growers may not necessarily from the Northeast. The product may come from Virginia, North Carolina or the deep south.”
“I want to give back to the Connecticut economy,” he said, adding that because his family was in the nursery business for so long, there remain numerous established contacts with local growers. His father Bill D’Andrea, also a landscape architect, is a steady presence at Arch in Bloom.
In fact, many will remember that the D’Andrea’s Nursery operated next to Greenwich Library.
“That was my great grandfather, grandfather, my dad and uncles, and now myself,” said D’Andrea. “All of those connections, we’ve had for years and years and years. A lot of the suppliers are still around.”
The difference in the Arch in Bloom experience goes gar beyond their hardy, locally grown plants.
If customers don’t see a specific product they’re looking for, all they have to do is ask.
“I’ll source anything,” he said. “Even here, we’ll have really rare azaleas, rare rhododendrons in different colors and types. We pride ourselves on that.”
Also, the business offers an extensive array of services, starting with landscape design.
D’Andrea’s can often be spotted working at his drafting table in the back of the shop, creating drawings for customers.
For new clients, he’ll set up a consultation meeting at their house and develop an understanding of what they want. From there he’ll create either a plan view or a 3-D perspective.
“It’s a great investment, especially now, this year,” D’Andrea said, adding that many clients are having him design swimming pools. “Because of Covid, people prefer a more intimate space to entertain and spend time with family. People are doing a lot of work outside – everything from plantings to patio space and pools.”
“Everything is done in-house, from design to construction and through the finish,” he said, adding that Arch in Bloom has full mason crews on staff. “We do everything pertaining the outside landscape – from lighting, to masonry and irrigation.”
“You don’t have to go to multiple contractors to have your project done,” he added. “We offer quality, craftsmanship and price.”
“We like to provide an experience here as well. It’s not like a normal nursery or greenhouse with 100 of that and 100 of this. It’s about a conversation. We like to use this space to display our ability and design.”
A lot of new business comes through word-of-mouth, but also through retail customers who learn about the other services during a visit.
“My grandpa had a saying, which is, ‘You’re only as good as your last job.’ If you do the right job, you’re going to get referred. A lot of our business is referrals and customer service.”
D’Andrea said he hoped to resume hosting events on site when it is safe, possibly this summer.
“I hope we can have our annual Pumpkins & Pints event,” he said. “We have all sorts of heirloom pumpkins. We bring out kegs of beer, live music and give back to the neighborhood. In the holiday season, they host a popular ‘Flurry Fest’ with a spread of food and shopping and socializing.