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About

Founded in 1989, and still operated by twin brothers Brent and Brooks Wilson, Wilson Bros Gardens brings you awesome every day! It is our goal to blow you away with a great selection of the most exciting new and old-favorite plants and trees that have demonstrated outstanding qualities and exceptional performance in landscapes and gardens. But we won't just blow you away with our great plants. Under the Planting and Care tabs on every plant page in WilsonBrosGardens.com you'll find our knowledge - the knowledge from our horticultural experts that you need to know to be growing plants in you landscape and gardens like the pros!



Every business has a story...



OUR STORY STARTS HERE

By Brent Wilson - Co-Founder Wilson Bros Nurseries


My twin brother Brooks and I were born in 1964 in Terra Haute, Indiana. We had to wear name bracelets for a year so that our parents wouldn't get us mixed up!


1966 - Miami, FL



We lived there in Terra Haute with our parents until 1965, when our father, Gene Wilson, retired after injuries from a career in football and took a coaching job in Miami Florida. He took the Miami High football team to 4 state championships in a row. Needless to say, in what was a much smaller city of Miami back then, he became "Mr. Popular" with everyone in city, including the ladies. As with so many other charming athletes, our father just couldn't resist the temptation.

Rightfully so, mom didn't take too kindly to dad's frolicking ways. By the time we were 4 years old she called it quits and moved Brooks and I and our older brother Scott to Marietta, Georgia to start a new life. Our earliest days of entrepreneurship selling grapefruits we'd picked from trees in our yard to folks in the Miami neighborhood were over, for a while.

In hindsight, our parents divorce was all for the best. Our mother remarried to one of the best fathers any kids could ever ask for: Joe Bell, who we called "Dad," and still do to this day. Mom passed in 2004 but dad is still alive and well today enjoying retired life in The Villages, FL. Just so you'll know, Brooks and I both maintained contact with our natural father throughout his life. We actually took care of him when his health was failing during his last 5 years on earth.




Fast forward to 1976, when Brooks and I were 12 years old and living with our mom, dad and older brother Scott in a quiet neighborhood in Marietta, Georgia. Dad had a special interest in plants and trees so our landscape often won "Yard of the Month" in the Mareitta neighborhood we lived in. So one day mom and dad decided to take us brothers on a day trip to Callaway Gardens; a very well-known and heavily-visited public gardens in the foothills of the Appalachians. It was springtime so the azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, dogwood and redbud trees, and many other spring-bloomers were in full bloom. To my recollection, that's when Brooks and I first caught the plant bug. One look at all those beautiful flowering plants and we were hooked!






BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS (Pun intended)

Fast forward to 1978. Brooks and I were 14 years old when dad moved the family to a 40-acre farm in Jackson, Georgia: a small country town on the Southside of Atlanta. We spent the first couple years in Jackson living in a mobile home trailer while we helped dad build what would become the family home. Dad worked us hard around the farm, helping greatly to instill the work ethic we'd ultimately need to be successful in business. He taught us that you don't get something for nothing, and that "idleness was the devils workshop."

1980 was a year Brooks and I were very anxious to see arrive. It was the year we'd turn 16 and get our drivers licenses. As the born-entrepreneurs we were, acquiring our drivers licenses meant we could launch the first business we'd been envisioning for several years: Wilson Lawn Care. We knew that going into the lawn care business would teach us more about plants and how to maintain and care for them.

So we bought a pickup truck and took a small loan for mowers blowers, hedge trimmers and other necessary landscape maintenance equipment. It wasn't long before we had a full schedule of landscape maintenance contracts with the local bank, several churches, and quite a few residences. We took on as much work as we could handle in addition to our schoolwork, and, with the revenues from the business, gained the reputation of being the "richest" kids at school. But the money really wasn't that important to us...the valuable knowledge of caring for and learning more about plants and everything landscaping had begun.




THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Both of us graduated from Jackson High School in 1982, another year that Brooks and I were anxious to see. The small lawn maintenance company was thriving by this point in time so we were anxious in deciding whether to follow our parents advice and go to college, or go with our own strong entrepreneurial desires and continue on in the landscape business.



Not long after our high school graduation, in 1983 we took the money in our savings accounts and moved back to Marietta, Georgia, a much more affluent, landscape-conscious area that was growing like mad. Within just a few years our small lawn maintenance company had blossomed into a reputable landscape design-build firm with a long list of affluent clients in the East Cobb and North Fulton metro Atlanta areas. The learning of all things landscaping had progressed.




SHARING SEEDS OF KNOWLEDGE

After 7 successful years creating award-winning landscapes for our many clients in the North Atlanta Metro area we decided to take the knowledge we'd gained and use it to move up in the world of the green industry.  We've always been the type who loved sharing knowledge and the best way we could help more folks with their landscaping needs was to open a nursery and garden center. So we sold the landscape design-build firm to an employee and started looking for a location to open a nursery. There were already several thriving nurseries on the north side of Atlanta, so we set our sites back on the Southside, where the traffic wasn't so bad and the homeowners needed our knowledge and services the most.

One day, after having sold the landscaping company, Brooks saw an article in the Atlanta Journal newspaper titled: "Henry County: The Hidden Gem of the Atlanta Metro Area." So we jumped in the truck and headed south to take a look at Henry County, Georgia. A few weeks later we took the funds we'd sold the landscape company for and used a bulk of it as a down-payment on a piece of commercial property in McDonough, Georgia, a quaint small town in Henry County.




Our parents were a little concerned about this move because the landscape company was doing so well, and we had rather suddenly decided to sell it and open a nursery business in what then was a small country town. But Brooks and I looked at the demographics of McDonough and knew the small town was in the process of exploding - over 100 subdivisions were under construction and the property we purchased for the nursery was right across the street from the proposed Georgia National Golf Course at Lake Dow Country Club.

To make a long chapter in this story short, within just a couple years Henry County had become the fastest growing county in the state of Georgia, and the nursery business was rocking and rolling... growing steady right along with it. By the year 2000 Henry County had quadrupled in population...from 50,000 people to well over 200,000, and the nursery had grown to four times it's original size as well.

To this day, the nursery is open-to-the-public 7 days a week. Thousands of local homeowners and landscapers rely on it to find the most accurate information and the best plants anywhere in Georgia, the same information we provide on our website, and the same plants we now ship all over the country. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.



January 2017



ENTERING CYBER SPACE

When getting started in business in 1980, we never would've imagined that one day this thing called the Internet would come along. Brooks and I first started paying attention to the Internet sometime in the early 1990's, back during the days of dial-up connections, when it took forever for a picture to download to your monitor.

We continued to keep a close eye on the the evolution of the Internet and by 2003 it became apparent to us that the paperback Yellow Pages were taking a backseat to the online search engines. Most folks who could afford to buy plants and trees could also afford to have a home computer, and they were using the Internet at ever-increasing rates to find local sources for the plants and products they needed. We knew we had to have an Internet presence.




So, in late 2003, we started obtaining bids from website design companies in the Atlanta. They all wanted what we thought was a fortune to build out a 5-page website. Why? Because they had the know-how and we didn't. We knew that once we had a website we'd need a whole lot more pages than 5 for sharing all our products and knowledge. Considering the going rates for website construction at that time, we just didn't feel we could afford to outsource the construction of our website. That's when we decided to start studying website development.

We ended up teaching ourselves how to use a website design program called Dreamweaver and in October of 2004 had developed and launched WilsonBrosOnline.com, a gardening-centric information-based website. While some folks were talking about the "evils of the Internet" Brooks and I thought it was a wondrous and beautiful thing. Now we could take all the plant and landscaping knowledge we'd gained to date and share it with our local customers on a website they could access 24/7, at their convenience. We were in heaven.

The information-based website was a win-win situation for us and our customers. While relaxing in their home, our customers could access all of our "How To" information and "Plant Files." Now when customers came into the nursery they already knew what plants, trees and other landscape and gardening products they needed. Furthermore, they could use the information on the site as a resource to learn how to properly plant and care for the plants they purchased from us.

So our first information-based website was a huge success. Our local customers used and loved it. But it wasn't long and gardeners from all over the country and around the world were using it. This presented us with a problem, or what Brooks and I would call a "new challenge."




OVERCOMING E-COMMERCE FEARS

So we'd built the information-based website and it was growing like mad, but there was a problem. Gardeners from all over the United States were emailing us with thank you letters for providing all the helpful information...but they were frustrated because they couldn't find a local source for the plants they saw and read about on our website. As plant enthusiasts that sometimes had trouble finding the plants we were looking at on the Internet, we understood their frustration. Basically, after putting a lot of time and effort into studying and planning a new garden, it really sucks when you can't find a source for the plants! So, we understood, and immediately went to thinking about offering our plants through an online store.

But there was another BIG problem for us to overcome...or at least what we thought was a problem. We had this nagging fear about being able to safely ship our plants all over country only to hear back from a customer in Washington State that the plants died or were damaged during shipping. We hate when an otherwise beautiful and healthy plants die needlessly. But we just hadn't took the time to look into how plants were being shipped by mail.

Eventually, we found a handful of plant nurseries who were selling their plants online and shipping all over the country. We placed some orders with these nurseries just to see how they were doing it. A couple weeks later the plants arrived on our doorstep. To our amazement all of the plants arrived in great shape and were planted in our gardens the day they arrived. This gave us the confidence we needed to move forward with an e-commerce website and to start offering and shipping our plants abroad.

In 2009 we decided to build an online store. But building and managing an online store was much different than building an information-based site. Fortunately, a long-time and good friend of ours from Florida, Spencer Young, who had many years experience in managing e-commerce websites, agreed to jump ship from the company he was working for and come on board our ship. A year or so later we launched our first online store: Gardener Direct. In no time we were safely shipping our container-grown plants and trees all over the country. To this day we have very few (1 out of a 1,000) orders with damages, and this is almost always caused by an employee of the carrier mishandling the box. But that's okay. In the rare event plants are damaged in transit, FedEx or UPS covers the cost of the damages and we get to immediately ship out a replacement order - everyone is happy!




EVER-GROWING

Fast forward to 2016, a new, mobile friendly e-commerce store is planted on the Internet.

From 2010 to 2015 our online store, Gardener Direct, had grown by over 100% a year and it was total organic growth. Organic growth basically means growth with no paid advertising...just satisfied and happy customers telling their friends about us. It wasn't the 1,000 percent growth Zappos experienced in their first few years in business, but it was really all the growth we could handle and still have plants to sell!

It takes a lot longer time, and lots of space, to grow the high-quality, container-grown and fully rooted plants you buy from us than it does to manufacture a tennis shoe. For example, a 1-gallon size azalea plant can take a year or more to grow. A 3-gallon takes two years or so. So, over-advertising that drew 10 times more traffic to our online store could spell trouble for us totally depleting our inventory. So we'd rather grow our company gradually, and 100% growth-rate a year is about all we can handle while maintaining superior plant quality and customer service, not to mention keeping our inventory at levels so that we have plants for you to buy year round in our store!




So, 100% growth every year is good to us, and it means we're doing something right, especially when considering we've yet to buy a single Google Ad to drive traffic to our site. That said, we do share our company with folks on Facebook and Pinterest. But there's something to say for growing a business the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth. It means your customers are happy with your products and service and are proud to share their experience with their friends, who then become new customers we can aim to please. And we love pleasing folks!


Just when you thought you've heard enough about us, but the story isn't quite done yet. Just a little more to tell.


When you're in business, there's always gonna be problems. But we don't look at them as problems...rather as opportunities to find solutions.

In 2015 we got a call from a very upset person who felt that we had "ripped them off" by shipping unhealthy plants, which were not of the size and quality we advertised on the website. The first thing we did was apologize, and let the "customer" know that we guarantee our plants to arrive healthy and of retail nursery and garden center quality and size. But as we kept questioning her it became apparent that she had called the wrong company. She'd purchased the plants from one of our competitors online who had a very similar name to Gardener Direct. It was an honest mistake on her part. She couldn't remember the exact name of the company she'd bought the plants from so simply typed the words "garden" and "direct" in a search engine, and we were the first to show up in the results. This let us know we had a problem that needed fixing.

It wasn't long after that initial call to the wrong company that we were receiving several similar calls every month, all involving the same company with the similar name. It was really frustrating that people were confusing us with this other company. We were worried that the confusion could eventually do some serious damage to the reputation we'd spent decades building and protecting. So we made the executive decision to stop shipping our plants for Gardener Direct and build our own website. We decided to go with WilsonBrosGardens.com, because no one could copy that without a major lawsuit on their hands!


is born


With our new website, we also decided to change and update it with a new look and some great new features that we hope will enhance your shopping experience. Not only is the new site mobile friendly, when shopping, you'll surely notice and appreciate some of the newly added features in Wilson Bros Gardens.



Here's just a few of the new features on the new website:

  • More information! Now we have all the specific planting and care instructions on EVERY plant page in the site. There's also over 200 helpful articles in our Blog that you can easily find by using the site search.

  • More pictures! Instead of only one picture on a plant page, now there are many...and we're always adding more!

  • Questions & Answers. This is a great new feature on every plant plant or product page that allows you to ask any question you want - and we'll promptly answer your question! When we do, you'll get an email notification with a link to the answer. It's a great thing because you get the answer you need and both the question and the answer remain on the page for future visitors to see who might have the same question.

  • Gift Cards. Need to buy a plant-loving gardening friend a gift? Now we are offering electronic gift cards you can instantly send to them!


Okay, finally, that about brings this story to an end, for now. Since you made it this far in the story of our business, we hope you enjoyed learning more about us. If you have any questions about our company and its plants, products and services, don't hesitate to contact us. We're always at your service!



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