Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Prepare for the fall planting season

 Plant shows at M R Gardens for the fall 2023 season

M R Gardens' sustainable nursery showcases its plants on pre-announced days for the fall planting season, offering native wildflowers as well as complementary plants such as groundcovers and herbs.

Customers are encouraged to pre-order plants at nativeplantsasheville.com and pick them up at an arranged time, regardless if the nursery is open to the public that day.

Our next plant shows are: 

1 to 6 pm on Thursday, August 31,

1 to 6 pm on Friday, September 1,

and 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, September 2.

If you'd like to visit on a date other than the ones listed above, please make an appointment before visiting.

Find us at 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville. 

Go to nativeplantsasheville.com/plant-shows for more information. Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Reserve your native plants for the spring season!

Ordering is now open for the 2023 spring season! You can reserve your native plants now, and then pick them up mid-March through May at our nursery in Southeast Asheville when it's planting time.

Click here to read more on our site www.nativeplantsasheville.com.  

We look forward to seeing you in the spring!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Creative gift ideas

Check out M R Gardens' December newsletter to read suggestions for ways you can support native nurseries this season. We've included a thorough list of resources for native gardeners.

View full newsletter here

If you haven't already, you can subscribe to M R Gardens newsletters — that way you'll be the first to know when we update our plant inventory for pre-season orders as well as post our spring plant show dates. 

Flashback to January 2017

We hope you have a wonderful winter season! Thanks to all our customers and supporters for a great year. It was a big score for native plants and all the critters that depend on them — including people! We all benefit not only from their beauty, but from the countless ways that the complex ecosystem interlocks them to our health, survival and prosperity. Sending you blessings as you enter a new year and continue to dream about your landscape.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Save the dates! Fall plant shows

We've updated our Plant Show page with dates of upcoming open houses for fall of 2022. 

Visit us on select Thursdays through Saturdays:

September 1 to 3;

September 29 to October 1;

and October 13 to 15.

Hours are 1 pm to 6 pm on the above listed Thursdays and Fridays;

and 11 am to 4 pm on the listed Saturdays

Or you can always order at nativeplantsasheville.com and we'll arrange a date for pickup that works for you.

You can also visit the nursery by appointment throughout the summer. It's helpful if you can fill out this form. Or just call 828.333.4151 to arrange a time.  Thank you!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Pre-order native perennials

Go to nativeplantsasheville.com to reserve yours 

M R Gardens' sustainable plant nursery has begun spring 2022 pre-ordering! Most native perennials, groundcovers and herbs can now be reserved. You can make your selections at the online store, which has pictures and descriptions of each of the plants so you can think through your garden design. M R Gardens focuses on pollinator plants and other species that benefit the ecosystem. 

Customers also have the option of contacting megan@mrgardens.net to order plants. Or leave a voicemail at 828.333.4151.

Once your selections are ready for planting, the nursery reaches out to you to arrange a pickup date, typically from mid-March through May. Pickup is at M R Gardens in the Oakley community of Asheville.

M R Gardens greenhouse, end of January

In addition to the nearly 50 varieties of native plants listed on the online store, the nursery also has the following available, which you can reserve by contacting M R Gardens directly:

Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
Giant Purple Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariaefolia)
Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica)
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Sweet Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) 
Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)

M R Gardens aims to be as sustainable as possible. The nursery's passive solar greenhouse requires no extra heat other than solar gain to propagate in winter. M R Gardens also practices organic methods, uses renewable resources in potting soil, and encourages customers to wash and return their plastic pots. Plants are grown on a small scale so that individual attention is given to plants, ensuring high quality. 

Save the dates!

M R Gardens offers pre-ordering for culinary herbs and vegetable starts. Go to the online store early March to reserve your early spring seedlings such as kale and collards; and mid-April for your summer crop seedlings such as tomatoes and peppers. Herbs can also be ordered as they become available. 

The nursery also opens its doors to the public for plant shows on select Thursdays through Sundays:
March 17 to 20;
April 7 to 10;
April 14 to 17;
May 12 to 15;
and June 2 to 5. 

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those dates.

Find M R Gardens at 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Fall plant shows—Native flowers and more!

Ordering for fall vegetable seedlings is now open 

M R Gardens' sustainable nursery showcases its plants on select Thursdays to Sundays for the fall planting season, offering native wildflowers, vegetable seedlings, herbs and more. Customers also have the option to order plants online and pick them up at an arranged time/day. 

Find the greenhouse at 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville (in the Oakley community) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates:

August 26 to 29;

September 2 to 5;

and September 30 to October 3.

Mistflower - Available at upcoming shows

M R Gardens also expects to be at the following:

Black Mountain Fall Garden Sale at the Monte Vista Hotel, September 10 and 11;

Botanical Gardens at Asheville next to UNCA, September 11;

North Carolina Arboretum, September 17 to 18. See hours and parking information here.

Joe Pye - New arrival!

Check out what's newly in stock!

If you were at the nursery this spring, some new varieties have been added since you last visited. Check out the following list. Plants that thrive in full shade to part sun are marked with an ** and the rest take full sun to part shade.

Blazing Star, Appalachian (Liatris microcephala) 

Bluestar, Shining (Amsonia illustris) 

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Coneflower, Pale Purple (Echinacea pallida)

Goldenrod, White (Solidago bicolor)

Ironweed, Appalachian (Vernonia glauca),

also known as Upland Ironweed

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)

Phlox, Creeping - Sherwood Purple (Phlox stolonifera)**

Sedge, Appalachian (Carex appalachica)**

Stonecrop, ‘Larinem Park’ (Sedum ternatum)**

Turtlehead, White (Chelone glabra)

Wild Pinks ‘Short and Sweet’ (Silene caroliniana var wherryi),

also known as Carolina catchfly

Pick up yours at the upcoming shows or reserve any that aren't posted yet online by emailing megan@mrgardens.net. In addition, please see the plants listed in the Currently in the Greenhouse section in the online store. Note: Three types of Milkweed (including Butterfly Weed) should be ready by the September 30 sale.   

Nodding Onion in front of Black Eyed Susan 'Goldsturm' and a hint of Great Blue Lobelia.
Photo of M R Gardens plants by Vickie Burick Photography

Quick sketch special!

If you'd like help planning out a portion of your yard that's 50 square feet or less, you can take advantage of a special for a $25 virtual consult through mid-October for customers who'd like help designing with M R Gardens plants. Send to megan@mrgardens.net: Photos and details about the site, including dimensions, sun exposure, soil quality and any other helpful information. Owner Megan Riley will arrange a time to meet up with you at M R Gardens to further discuss your project. If any of your plant selections happen to be in bloom at the gardens, you'll have a chance to view them. Consult price does not include the plants you'll take home. (Note that we can sometimes offer discounts for large orders.) 

When not on special, virtual consults are typically $40 throughout summer and early winter. Or Megan can visit you in person during these months at $75 per hour. 

Fall is an excellent season to plant perennials because soil is warm yet the days are becoming cooler to not over-stress the plants. Their energy can go toward growing strong roots rather than producing flowers and vegetative growth. Most of the fall vegetable transplants can last through late winter with a row cover. 

Native flowers offer food for wildlife as well as attract pollinators and predators of garden pests to keep a balanced ecosystem. M R Gardens strives to be as sustainable as possible, growing in a passive solar greenhouse so that no heat is needed in winter other than solar gain. It is cooled with manual vents and designed so that no exhaust fans are needed. The nursery also uses potting mixes with coconut coir, limiting the use of peat. Want to learn more? You might enjoy taking a tour

Monday, February 15, 2021

Spring plant shows in 2021 at M R Gardens

This spring, M R Gardens’ sustainable plant nursery in the Oakley community of Asheville opens to the public for plant shows on select Thursdays to Sundays:


April 1 to 4;


April 15 to 18;


May 13 to 16;


June 3 to 6.


The nursery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find us at 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville.

M R Gardens' passive solar greenhouse.
Photos on this page by Vickie Burick

We’re a community-oriented business, and we appreciate how our plant shows are a chance for neighbors to connect with each other. The event is typically outdoors with only a few people in attendance at a time, and our customers are thoughtful about wearing face coverings.


M R Gardens offers native wildflowers, other plants that are beneficial for the garden, medicinal and culinary herbs, and vegetable starts. Plants are grown on a small scale, so they are high quality as they are given individual attention. We strive for as sustainable as possible, which means not only growing organically but also using nearly all renewable resources and reusing nonrenewable resources.


Customers can also reserve their plants at an online store or via email, and pick them up at the nursery at a pre-arranged time. See nativeplantsasheville.com or contact megan@mrgardens.net or 828.333.4151.



We expect to have the following plants at the shows once they are ready for planting.

Native Perennials

Asters (Aromatic, Calico, Maryland Golden and Smooth Blue varieties), Bee Balm (Bradbury, Scarlet, Spotted, and Wild Bergamot varieties), Blazing Star (i.e. Liatris), Blue and Cream Wild Indigo, Black Eyed Susan (Goldsturm or Bicolor varieties), Boneset, Butterfly Weed, Carolina Bush Pea, Columbine, Coreopsis (Lance-leaf variety), Creeping Phlox, Culver's Root, Cup Plant, Downy Wood Mint, Golden Alexander (including a Heart-leaved variety), Great Blue Lobelia, Harebell, Hoary Vervain, Hyssop (Anise, Yellow Giant and Purple Giant varieties), Ironweed, Jacob’s Ladder, Little Bluestem, Mistflower, Mountain Mint (Slender and Virginia varieties), Ox-Eye Sunflower (i.e. Heliopsis), Rattlesnake Master, Rosin Weed (as well as a local Whorled variety), Sochan, Showy Goldenrod, Starry Campion, Sweet Joe Pye, Switch Grass, Violets (Common), White Doll’s Daisy, and Wild Strawberry.



Ashwagandha, Basil (Genovese, Cinnamon and Thai varieties), Calendula, California Poppy, Catmint, Feverfew, Lavender, Marjoram, Marshmallow, Nasturtium, Official Hyssop (Purple and White), Parsley, and Tulsi.


Groundcovers and other flowers

Ajuga, Alyssum, Creeping Thyme, Dragon's Blood Sedum, Hairy Golden Aster, Roman Chamomile, Snow in Summer


Read here about our vegetable starts — it’s best to pre-order them ahead of the season, but we may have extras at the shows.

M R Gardens grows in a passive solar greenhouse so that no heat is needed in winter other than solar gain, and it is cooled with manual vents eliminating the need for exhaust fans. The nursery also uses potting mixes made with byproducts of other manufacturing processes, limiting the use of peat. Ask about our tours.
Megan Riley, owner of M R Gardens

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Pre-Season Prep: Order seedlings before the start of the 2021 growing season!

Get ahead of the game this year 

We’re offering a pre-order option for vegetable, herb and annual flower seedlings for the 2021 spring season. Reserving your plants by the dates listed below helps us grow the correct number of plants. With so many folks at home gardening this year, ordering ahead of the season is especially important!


We’ve also listed the dates that we expect your plants to be ready. At that time, you pick them up at M R Gardens, 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville. We email you to arrange a pickup day/time.

Defiant is a disease-resistant slicer

Early Spring Seedlings: Brussels Sprouts, Collards, Dill, Kale.

Pre-order by mid-February. Pickup in early April.


Summer Crop Seedlings: Eggplant, Peppers (sweet and hot), Tomatoes (slicers, disease-resistant, heirlooms, cherries and plums).

Pre-order by March 12. Pickup in early May.


Herbs and Annual Flowers: Ashwagandha, Basil (three varieties), Calendula, Feverfew, Nasturtium, Parsley, Tulsi and more!

Pre-order by March 12. Pickup in early May.


Go to https://m-r-gardens.square.site/ to reserve yours. PLEASE IGNORE THE PICKUP DATES IN YOUR SHOPPING CART. That is a default setting that we’re unable to change.


We’re also in the midst of updating our Native Perennial and Groundcover sections. In addition to the varieties listed on the site, we also have: Aromatic Aster, Cream Wild Indigo, Downy Wood Mint, Harebell, Purple Giant Hyssop, Yellow Giant Hyssop, Common Violets, Heart-leaf Golden Alexander, Ox-Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis), Starry Campion, California Poppies, Snow in Summer, Marshmallow and White Official Hyssop. Contact us directly if you'd like to reserve any of them: megan@mrgardens.net or 828.333.4151.


Scarlet Bee Balm

Looking for lettuce? Due to warm temperatures in March in recent years, we’re experimenting with a new growing time for lettuce to prevent it from bolting early. We expect it to be ready by mid-March. Contact us directly to reserve yours, and be prepared to cover it in case we get freezing temperatures at that time. We typically grow Romaine and Buttercrunch.


We also have Swiss Chard, which you can also reserve by contacting us directly.

If you prefer to pay by check rather than through the online store, you can email us the names of the plants and quantities that you’d like.


M R Gardens in the Oakley community of Asheville aims to grow as sustainably as possible. We have a passive solar greenhouse so that no heat is needed other than solar gain, use renewable resources in our potting soil mixes, and practice organic growing methods. Plants are grown on a small scale so that individual attention can be given to plants, ensuring high quality.


Many thanks – Ordering ahead is a big help to your neighborhood nursery!


P.S. If you can’t predict your order at this moment, no worries, we always grow extra. We plan to be open on select Thursdays to Sundays: April 1 to 4; April 15 to 18; May 13 to 16 and June 3 to 6.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

We're looking for experienced greenhouse grower who is eager to keep learning

Take part in this expanding community-oriented farm

The following greenhouse/landscape design training turns into a paid opportunity potentially within two months depending on the participant’s level of experience and skill. The site of the program is M R Gardens, a sustainable nursery in the Oakley community of Asheville, NC. Please read this description to get a full picture of our business and the rationale for pairing nursery education with the job application process. Additionally this article explains how even experienced growers can gain from our educational programs.

If you're only interested in the training rather than the potential for income or a long-term position, go ahead and get in touch with us to see if our aspirations align.

We are seeking applicants who have at least some experience managing a small commercial nursery. We anticipate they'll oversee our greenhouse operation once their training is complete.

It’s recommended applicants have:

  • Worked in greenhouses for three years or more;
  • A familiarity with and commitment to organic greenhouse practices;
  • An interest in Southeastern native perennials;
  • An appreciation that there’s always more to learn in the field of growing;
  • A broad perspective that lends an ability to interact well with all types of people;
  • A knack for coordinating the logistics that go into running a small operation;
  • An eye for aesthetics in a naturalized landscape;
  • The flexibility to change course in the midst of an evolving business;
  • A grounded excitement for plant work, and a strong grasp of what’s realistic.

Our main greenhouse in July
Photos of M R Gardens on this page by Vickie Burick Photography

The main skill is coordination—keeping your eye on the ball as various people come in and out of the greenhouse, whether that be clients, students, helpers or others involved in building the business. While you won't be expected to take on these tasks until you have graduated from the training, it's good if you have a natural knack for management. You also need to get to know each of the plants’ requirements well—particularly their timing. In the meantime, you can refer to the spreadsheets we’ve created throughout the years, which includes dates of stratification and seeding, germination tips and other helpful information. Record-keeping is an important part of this job, as is keeping track of plant orders and reserving plants that have been pre-ordered. 

Be sure this description fits you, but also know you have others’ help in carrying out the tasks listed. After graduating from your training, it will likely land in your hands to make sure that the greenhouse stays at desirable conditions—which means opening and closing the vents at specific times depending on the outside environment. You won’t be the sole person involved in this task, but you need to be able to direct others to do so.

Our activities vary depending on the season, and we can construct a program that fits your schedule. The more you can participate, the more you get out of the program, but 2 to 5 hour per week is typically sufficient at the start of the training. We mostly focus on the greenhouse February through May, and the rest of the year, there are opportunities to develop landscape design clients. It helps if you already have a bit of design experience, but currently we are mainly focused on 250 square foot (or less) designs for clients who need help arranging plants from our nursery. We can teach you how to do so as long as you are very familiar with how each species has unique needs and aesthetic elements. If you already are a landscape designer, you'll likely appreciate the opportunity to be able to grow your own plants for your clients' designs.


Our first step in this process is surveying potential applicants. Our hope is to train someone to stay on board here so that they can have the experience of running a small nursery without taking on the full risk of owning a business. That said, the training can take many forms depending on your situation. Send your resume and an explanation of your interest to megan@mrgardens.net. If it seems like a potential fit, we’ll discuss your availability, required hours, tuition and potential income. Cost of tuition varies depending on the skills and experience of the applicant, and we can assist you in running a crowd-sourcing campaign for the tuition if needed. Note that if you are chosen for an interview, the application process includes three 2-hour sessions in the greenhouse, and we also ask for a $50 application fee.

We anticipate your time here to be quite enjoyable—people love being at our farm. We care about our team—throughout the apprentice program, students and program leaders check in with each other for at least 15 minutes each month to make sure that all parties feel like their expectations are being met.

Thanks for considering this rare opportunity to be able to learn directly from a native plant grower.



Find out what you can learn at M R Gardens as an advanced greenhouse grower/landscape designer

Like all businesses, M R Gardens is recalibrating after all the changes of 2020, adjusting our plans accordingly. Thankfully everything still seems to be headed in a promising direction (knock on wood). That said, we’re adjusting a previously advertised opportunity to better reflect developments that happened in the last year as we take steps to turn the farm into a robust resource for the community.


The greenhouse operator/landscape designer training was originally created for all experience levels. That has not changed—if you’re nearly a beginner but have a green thumb and match the description, please don’t hesitate to apply. We are leaving that advertisement as-is because we might return to a beginner level training in the future.


That said, the applicant that is most likely appropriate at this time is someone who already has a fair amount of experience coordinating a small greenhouse operation. It helps if you also have a bit of landscape design experience. Currently we are primarily focused on 250 square foot (or less) designs for clients who need help arranging plants from our nursery. We can show you how to do so regardless of your design experience as long as you are very familiar with how all plants have unique needs—such as room to grow, soil preferences, adequate sun exposure—as well as aesthetic elements.


Sochan with ferns.
Photos on this page taken at M R Gardens by Vickie Burick Photography

We originally designed this training to be one to two years, but with an advanced grower we can shorten that length of time and move quickly into an income-producing position. Also, we expect more people to be a part of the farm, so you may have flexibility to switch your involvement to other parts of this diverse business as it suits you over time. The main requirement right now is the ability to coordinate lots of details and a diverse set of people.


The greenhouse operator/landscape design training is an excellent opportunity for an advanced grower, and we’ll attempt to explain why here. Our nursery is quite unique. (If you’re a novice grower, bear with us as we nerd-out on a bunch of propagation jargon here…)


First and foremost is our passive solar greenhouse. As far as we know, no other commercial plant nursery uses a passive solar design quite like ours. (Feel free to correct us if you know of others). Similar greenhouses exist, but usually they are backyard hobby greenhouses or propagation houses for small vegetable farms. That’s another model than a commercial nursery. Growing native perennials and other plants nearly year-round to sell to landscape design clients and other customers is an entirely different undertaking.


Why did we choose this design? The main reason why Megan (M R Gardens Owner) got into farming in 2001 was to create sustainable systems. She didn't have any interest in building a greenhouse with significant healing and cooling requirements. So she researched passive solar designs for years, and when the opportunity arose for her to build one in 2015, she went for it.


What she found is that the greenhouse is not only fossil fuel-free, but it also produces high quality plants. Our customers repeatedly tell us how well the plants do in their gardens. Certainly there’s been quite a bit of trial and error over the years determining which plants grow best in the unique environment of a passive solar design. But the following factors seem to contribute:

  • A ton of light streams in from south-facing windows, bouncing off the white rear and side walls and onto the plants. The greenhouse also has pockets of shade, where we can place plants that are more sensitive to light.
  • The heat radiating from the water barrels is good for root growth, especially if the trays sit on top of the barrels. Typically the overnight temps in the greenhouse do not drop below 50F—except on the rare occasion when it falls below 10F outside and the previous day was cloudy, resulting in less heat capture. Even then, the greenhouse stays above 40F, which is fine for native perennials and early spring vegetable starts. By April when we seed tomato starts, which only take five weeks to grow to planting size in this greenhouse, it rarely drops below 55F inside and easily rises to 80F on sunny days. We’ve learned to negotiate the needs of our various plants, placing our native flowers, which mostly prefer a max temp of 60-70F, in cooler microclimates within the greenhouse.
  • The plants get a break from the intense heat and light because the structure is designed so that they are not getting direct sun prior to 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. (or a bit earlier/later depending on the month). In general, the residential-style construction promotes a less harsh environment than the typical hoophouse.

  • We hand water. At this point, the nursery has not expanded to the point where a mister is needed, and we propagate almost all plants by seed, which don’t require continual irrigation like cuttings do. (Growing from seed means increased genetic diversity in the ecosystem, and an opportunity to create unique selections). Believe it or not, hand watering usually only takes us 30 minutes each day, except in peak season (March to May) when it might take an hour or two a day, and only if it’s sunny. Making sure each plant is getting just the right amount of water when they are less than two months old is absolutely key for optimal root growth, and correspondingly healthy plants. Meanwhile, we can easily monitor for disease or other issues as we carefully look at the conditions of every plant as we water. That leads to a high success rate. We typically don’t have much loss as long as we’ve grown the species more than once or twice, as experimentation is always needed when trying a new variety.
  • Humidity typically remains well under 50 percent unless we’ve had an unusually rainy week. That means disease pressure is low and easy to catch. If a certain species prefers higher humidity, we can move it into another structure during the day, such as our unheated hoophouse that remains quite humid.

Beyond the greenhouse design, our entire nursery is created around a sustainable model. We use peat-fee potting soils made with renewable materials (often byproducts of other manufacturing processes). We also encourage customers to wash plastic plant containers and return them so we can sanitize and reuse them.


Being sustainable is not just about using as few nonrenewable resources as possible, but also about educating customers so they have high success rates. We offer garden coaching and are generous with our gardening tips on plant sale days. We encourage landscape designs so that customers plan ahead and tell us ahead of the season what they need.


We can serve landscape designers who have large installs because our turn-around time is fairly quick, even for natives, which are often slow-growing. It’s possible to have well-developed, strong, deep plugs or quart containers ready within three to six months. Growing a tray of 50 deep plugs of one species for a client is usually no problem, depending on the plant’s germination rate.


Another crucial element of our business is that we put a tremendous amount of care into our plants, customers and helpers. Throughout the last 10 years of slow growth, the enterprise has remained manageable so that it never becomes a burden—it’s never boring, and only minimally stressful. In fact, the meditative work is often rejuvenating. It is possible to run a successful business and keep the stress minimal if the grower has a high level of skill—in both propagation and management.


Our goal is to keep this work enjoyable—even as the nursery grows—because we believe this care transfers to the plants and to the customers. No doubt, there will be stressful days. Thankfully most of our customers are exceptionally understanding of how difficult it is to run a small farm and forgive a tad bit of crankiness on our busiest days.


So what do we need from a greenhouse operator/landscape designer? Please see this post to see if the description fits you.


Our goal is to grow the nursery to get you on-board, with no tuition, as soon as possible, but there are steps involved to get to that level. Our investment to reach this point to be able to offer this opportunity has been significant. Nurseries are different than most businesses in that it takes multiple years to become highly skilled due to the short growing season. We often only have two or three attempts each season to get right something new we're trying.


We appreciate your understanding and your commitment to this project, nursery and community, and we look forward to hearing about your needs as well.