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Boutique garden center finds fertile ground in Orange

Jack Carlisle’s little slice of heaven happens to be his work, too.


He’s put great care into the layout of his boutique garden center, The Potting Shed. Each alcove display represents a home garden “vignette,” he said.


Reclaimed furniture and antiques serve as centerpieces for Carlisle’s eclectic collection of succulents, perennials, herbs and roses. The 5,000-square-foot outdoor shop is connected to Vintiques Home Decor on Chapman Avenue in Orange.


“This is a dream come true for me … to own my own garden center is pretty awesome,” Carlisle said of the shop he runs with partner Louis Sardinas.


Carlisle has been spying the Vintiques patio with interest since he moved from North Carolina to Orange in the early 1990s. He began talking with the home-decor business about leasing the space last November. The Potting Shed sprouted in January.


Armed with an eye for the odd and interesting, Carlisle hand-picks most of his plants and furnishing from a network of eight local vendors.


“I’m digging in the corners and I might find something that (the vendors) haven’t put on their availability ... a unique specimen or something they may have just forgotten about,” Carlisle said.


The small shop and manageable inventory allows Carlisle to get creative with his selection. Decorations include tables made from used side-yard gates, hanging teardrop glass terrariums and weather-worn gas cans.


Carlisle relies on customer feedback in order to adjust his inventory. While many of his regulars are an older green-thumb crowd, a growing number of Chapman University students and 30-something professionals have started wandering into his garden.

If you bring a pot, The Potting Shed will fill it. Carlisle makes custom succulent and flower arrangements on the spot. Old tool boxes and buckets make for worthy plant vessels.


“I actually encourage customers to dig deep into their garages and their work sheds and to bring toolboxes and let me plant a toolbox for them,” Carlisle said.


Low overhead allows Carlisle to sell his plants at competitive prices, he said. Herbs go for $2.99 and succulent arrangements are $30 to $50. Carlisle pointed out an antique table for $400.


The Potting Shed’s future is still budding, Carlisle said. With only four months under his belt, he’s is focused on cultivating his customer base.


But business isn’t all about making sales. The greatest compliment is when customers simply enjoy his garden.



“Whether they buy anything or not, just watching them walk around and stop here and stop there … no one goes through here in a brief, five-minute period,” Carlisle said. “They linger and that’s huge for me. That’s what I want them to do.”



See the original version of this story here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/carlisle-614869-garden-potting.html

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