by Lauren McLemore // Photos by Jamison Mosley
Since opening in 1939, Hocott’s Garden Center has been meeting Central Arkansans’ garden needs for more than 80 years. Located in the Hillcrest area, Hocott’s is a full-service retail nursery, specializing in unique and hard-to-find annuals, perennials, houseplants, trees and shrubs. Along with its inventory, Hocott’s also offers landscaping, lawn care, planting, custom pot design, commercial services, sod, mulch, sprinklers and more.
The garden center strives to serve everyone, from those looking for a new outdoor hobby to seasoned green-thumb gardeners. Whether you’re looking for unique new pots or flowers to add character to your front porch or full-service lawn care to prep your yard for warmer weather, the specialists at Hocott’s can point you in the right direction.
As spring weather approaches Arkansas, the staff at Hocott’s is preparing the garden center, stocking up on popular shrubs, flowers and decor. The spacious grounds will soon carry a springtime array of unique plants not found at other local garden centers. If you’re one of the many people who picked up gardening as a hobby while stuck at home during the pandemic, the Hocott’s staff is full of knowledge and expertise to help you make the most of your planting this spring. There are even a few things that even the most amateur of the bunch can do at home to start preparing.
“Right now is the time to get out and start doing some pruning and cleaning up,” says Scott Simmons, operations manager. “Preparation for spring is a really big thing right now.”
Many spring prep tasks vary depending upon your garden style, property and interests, but generally, you’ll want to begin by cleaning out flower beds, cleaning your tools and pots, pulling weeds, and tidying up. Then it’s time to begin purchasing fertilizer and other products you might need for your soil.
Another good rule of thumb for starting out is to test your soil. Adding fertilizers to your garden without knowing your soil’s needs could result in harm to your plants and an unnecessary cost to you. Soil testing is free for all Arkansans through the University of Arkansas Extension Service. You can use the collection box provided by your county extension office for collecting samples.
While cleaning your tools and materials is a good idea to help you get reacquainted with your gardening equipment (especially if you haven’t been in the dirt since before winter), it also helps prevent disease spreading when you get to work adding in your new plants.
This is also a good time to assess your yard and past gardening areas to check for insects and pests so that you have time to remove them and clear out infestations before planting.
If you need a helping hand with cleaning up your yard, Hocott’s is your first call.
“We’re doing a lot of spring cleanups right now, getting ready for spring in people’s yards. We’re doing a lot of mulching, as well as trimming,” Simmons says.
After getting all cleaned up and organized, the next step is tapping into your creativity and beginning to envision the design for your garden.
Hocott’s takes special orders to help you design your pots, landscapes and gardens exactly the way you imagine them. For the visual planner, they actually have the ability to lay it all for you in a photograph. Best of all, it’s free of charge.
“We have a program where we can take a picture of your property that you’re wanting landscape for and give you a picture of what it would look like,” Simmons says.
Once you’ve decided on your layout, it’s time to bring it to life. On your next trip to Hocott’s, you might take a peek in the nursery at some of the new plants and other decorative items coming in right now, as well as chat with the staff to pick their brains about best practices.
“We’ve got shrubbery coming in daily, flowers coming in daily, vegetable plants, pottery, water fountains,” Simmons says. “Our staff is pretty well versed in the experiences of different assets of the nursery. We have houseplant specialists; we have shrubbery specialists; we have two or three people who can do design work and help you in your yard — kind of guide you to what you would need.”
While Hocott’s staff knows best when it comes to details, across the board, perennial plants are a crowd favorite when it comes to planting for spring. Thought of as the backbone of every flower garden, these flowers are easy-care, dependable and available in a variety of colors.
Simmons’ rule of thumb: “Always plant odd numbers.”
Another thing to consider when planning ahead is location and how that determines the type of planting and the level of care. For example, potted plants will need watering more often than those in the ground.
“[You’ll need to know] if [the plant] is going to be in the sun or the shade, and if the area is wet or dry, and our staff is more than capable of helping them make those decisions,” Simmons says.
Right now at Hocott’s, you can find a variety of fresh herbs and veggies ready for planting. If this is one of your first ventures out of the house since the pandemic, the garden center is also abiding by COVID-19 precautions with plexiglass at registers, mask requirements and maintaining 6-foot distancing. Hocott’s is also taking call-in orders and offering curbside pickup.
3612 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock