Gardening has been in Ray Greenstreet’s blood for as long as he can remember.
At age 13, he began working at a garden center in Maryland. He was a "yard boy," taking care of the flowers for a garden center owner with polio.
"I just never really got out of it," he said.
Greenstreet and his wife, Stacy, are opening an Alexandria location of their popular business, Greenstreet Gardens, in the old Applehouse Garden Center location at 1721 W. Braddock Road. The Alexandria center is the company’s second location—headquarters are in Lothian, Md.—and first in Virginia, an area the Greenstreets have had their eyes on for some time.
When Applehouse’s owner decided to retire, the couple jumped at the opportunity to bring their business to Alexandria. The new Greenstreet Gardens will feature many of the products Applehouse carried over the years and a wide selection of annuals, perennials, nursery stock, tropical plants, outdoor furniture, grills, mulch, stone and fertilizers.
The Greenstreets started their greenhouse operation, Greenstreet Growers, in 2000. In 2005, they opened Greenstreet Gardens in Lothian. The Maryland center sits on 14 acres on a 65-acre farm, compared to 2.5 acres for the Braddock Road location.
The couple is currently renovating the old Applehouse facility, which remains open for business. They plan to have a grand opening in the spring. Meanwhile, they are looking to hire local staff and reaching out to nearby and other high school students who are seeking part-time work.
“We’re very much a community business in Lothian, and we want to become a community business down here and support the local community with a lot of events,” Ray Greenstreet said.
The garden center also has a customer loyalty discount program that customers can enjoy at either location. This year they’ll also host “Tomato Mania,” which features 180 varieties of heirloom tomatoes for sale, at both centers.
“It’s become a huge event for us in Lothian,” Ray Greenstreet said. “People come from Jersey and Pennsylvania, because nobody can find that many heirloom tomatoes in one spot.”
Tomato experts will be on hand to help explain and educate about everything tomato, Stacy Greenstreet said.
“They come in and teach everybody, and there’s little seminars, and tricks to the trade, and things like that,” she said. “And some people are heavy-duty gardeners in general, and some people just like a vegetable garden, and some people just grow tomatoes. So it’s really fun.”
Many of the Greenstreets’ Lothian customers come from Alexandria already, Ray Greenstreet said.
“I think we can bring a lot of products and services and keep the things that worked well and really add onto it,” he said. “We try to be really customer-oriented and really promote some good products.”