In the six months or so since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Williamson County and all of elsewhere, people have made adjustments in whatever ways they could.
Many have discovered their inner green thumbs. Over the course of late spring and throughout the summer, folks suddenly became landscapers and horticulturists and master gardeners — all to the delight of Lynn Smith, retail manager for Riverbend Nurseries in Thompson’s Station.
“We’ve been growing by leaps and bounds,” she said. “We have been blessed — not lucky, but blessed. When people couldn’t go on vacation and they had to stay at home, they found all the projects they had wanted to do, something they may have hired a landscaper to do before and they did it themselves. So we’ve been blessed. We have not slowed down at all.”
It’s actually been that way since 1990, when Steve Bennett founded Riverbend Nurseries on 80 acres of land off Lewisburg Pike. A veteran of the nursery and landscape industry who grew up on a farm in McMinnville, Smith started his business growing approximately 50 varies of trees and employing five people. It has since grown to over 500 acres with some 1,500 varieties of plants and nearly 50 employees.
Riverbend Nurseries celebrated its 30th anniversary in July, as some of its loyal customers sent well-wishes and took advantage of big sales.
“We are a locally owned business, and our owner is on the property just about every day,” Smith said in explaining the reason for the nursery’s success. “Quality is something that [Bennett] strives for. He treats all of his customers with respect, and he expects us to treat his customers like that too.”
Smith has overseen the retail division of Riverbend for five years, and before that she had been among the nursery’s loyal customers. She and her staff pay careful attention to their customers’ wants and needs, serving as matchmakers of sorts to ensure the homeowner finds just the right plant, shrub or tree for their yard.
“People are really taking time to look and see what their choices are,” Smith said. “And we try really hard to put the right plant in the right spot.”
In addition to shrubs and trees, Riverbend Nurseries carries annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and houseplants. It is also well-stocked with tools, chemicals, pottery, indoor and outdoor decorative items, bagged and bulk mulches, and soil amendments.
And it’s an ideal place to get away from the stress of the pandemic or other concerns. Smith, for one, can speak to the healing nature of being outside gardening or landscaping.
“It is therapeutic,” she said. “Anytime when you stay inside and just watch TV, there is so much negative stuff. And when you go outside you get fresh air and sunshine and get a little sweat going on. I think it cleanses your body and it clears your mind, and it kind of makes your worries go away, digging in that dirt. I think it’s very good for your health.”