Harlow Gardens is a mid-sized garden center that’s been owned and managed by the Harlow family since 1939.
The first thing you notice when you arrive is the riot of colors. There are stacks of brightly colored pots by the entrance and nearly every surface throughout the nursery is painted in vivid colors that complement and highlight the foliage and blossoms of the many plants on display. Artwork from local artists is also on display, with beautiful and colorful items tucked between plants, hanging from rafters and showcased near the gift shop.
There are wide, paved paths meandering throughout the garden center (so it’s easy to push your cart around!), inviting you to wander through the carefully tended displays of cactus, perennials, annuals, citrus, vines, shrubs, and trees. There’s also a shade house with succulents and tender plants, plus an area dedicated to herbs and vegetables.
While Harlow Gardens doesn’t have a huge variety of plants, they carry a very good selection of plants that will grow well here in Tucson. There’s even a helpful plant catalog on their website with photos and descriptions of most of the plants they carry. They can also special order something specific (a deposit is required when the order is placed) and, if something is out of stock, they will give you a call when a new shipment arrives.
Besides plants, Harlow Gardens offers an excellent selection of pots (glazed, Talavera, and terracotta), including pot saucers and pot feet, as well as hanging baskets and pot stands.
You’ll also find several brands of quality seeds, fertilizers and soil amendments (bagged), and pest and disease control options. And on the way out, there are bags of compost, mulch, potting soil, manure, and more.
There’s usually someone at the help desk who can help you determine which options will best meet your needs. Plus, Harlow Gardens has a highly experienced horticulturist on staff who does “house calls” – he’ll come to your home for consultations, plant identification (helpful if you’ve just moved into a new home and aren’t sure what all the plants are), disease and pest ID, plant recommendations, etc. At only $60 for a 1/2-hour consultation ($20 for each additional 1/2 hour), it’s a great value.
The gift shop has houseplants, plus tea towels (made by Clay Thompson, one of the landscape designers on staff), cards, hats, jigsaw puzzles and a wide assortment of small items that make thoughtful and unusual gifts.
The garden center offers classes and workshops, a concert series, and art events (such as their Moonlight Art Market and Chris Bubany’s Holiday Marketplace in late November/early December).
Get on their email list – you’ll receive a weekly email with the “plant of the week” (often offered at a special price), monthly gardening tips, announcements of upcoming events and sales (some are only announced to email subscribers – my favorite is the 50% off on selected pots sale!), and a monthly coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase.
Harlow Gardens also offers a relatively new loyalty program. Sign up and you’ll start collecting “points” with each purchase that are converted into a cash discount on future purchases.
Finally, the business includes a Landscape Design & Installation department with two designers on staff. They can not only design the perfect outdoor space for you, but also do the installation, including plants, hardscape, and irrigation. If they need to bring in someone for a specialty installation (such as a pool or wrought ironwork), the Harlow Gardens staff will be there to supervise everything and make sure it’s done to their specifications.
This is an excellent nursery for new gardeners (or those who are new to Tucson) who are looking for advice and high-quality plants. The friendly staff will always ask if you need help and are happy to answer any questions or make plant suggestions. You won’t be overwhelmed by the selection of plants or left alone to figure out which plants and/or varieties will work best in your yard.
There’s something for everyone at Harlow Gardens!