The one constant in gardening is change – the change of seasons, of the garden landscape and of the plants themselves.
It’s true, too, of one of the Comox Valley’s longest-standing nurseries, as the Van Hage family’s Art Knapp garden centre transitions to Gardenworks in Courtenay.
“We were just thrilled and absolutely honoured when Will approached us more than a year ago when he was thinking of retiring,” says Leanne Johnson, president of Gardenworks, which owns nine stores on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
“We’re so excited to continue the great work Will and his family undertook.”
Valley gardeners will be happy to still see many of the familiar friendly faces they’ve known at the nursery.
“Almost the entire team has continued with Gardenworks, and we’re adding a few more people to the mix,” Johnson says.
Suzanne Wilson, a 20-year member of the Gardenworks team and formerly manager of the Nanaimo store, is excited to take the helm in Courtenay. An avid outdoor enthusiast and keen gardener, expect to see Wilson on the local slopes and trails when she’s not supporting people’s passions for all things green and growing.
“Our mission is to connect people to the natural world through gardening,” Johnson notes. “We certainly learned through COVID how important plants and gardening are for maintaining health and well-being.”
It’s notable that many of Gardenworks’ leadership team are women, including nine of the 1o store managers. “We look for the most talented people at the time and that has happened to be women,” Johnson says.
“As women leaders, we understand what it’s like to live and work and have families. We have built in empathy, compassion and flexibility to the Gardenworks philosophy and we strive for balance in life and work,” she says. “And we’re always looking for positive people who love people as much as they love plants!”
Exciting things blossoming
Those familiar local faces include Paris, the store’s fashion buyer, Johnson says, answering a question heard from many shoppers: “We’re not only keeping the fashion, we’re expanding it – we’ll have a store within a store.”
Those familiar with other Gardenworks locations will also be excited to see some of their favourite innovations, including a hip new “Botanical Bar,” where instead of connecting over cocktails, friends will connect over garden projects, like creating a succulent planter or an orchid and glass arrangement. “It’s going to be super-fun,” Johnson says.
Gardeners will also see a refreshed interior with more tropical plants, lots of seasonal decorations, gift ideas, beautiful home decor finds and artisan creations from Vancouver Island and B.C.
“There’s a long tradition at Art Knapp of local love and that’s something that Gardenworks supports as well,” Johnson notes.
“We are so honoured that Will entrusted us to his business and we’re so excited to be in the community. It’s been really heartwarming, the support we’ve received.”
And of course, you can visit in person from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at 2855 Wentworth Rd.