Smithfield Gardens – a surprise find in Suffolk, VA

Don’t underestimate a little garden center located on Route 17 in Suffolk, Virginia.  Smithfiled Gardens is a garden center with a store front on this country road, just 30 miles across the North Carolina line.  What appears to be off the beaten path is actually a well sited garden center thriving with plants, people, and personality.

Les Parks, Smithfield Gardens

Les Park, Smithfield Gardens

Smithfield Gardens began in 1972 with Bill and Linda Pinkham’s (two of the principal owners) vision to create with not just a variety of plants, but with display gardens meandering around the platform stands holding desirable choices.

Surrounding the retail garden center are 11 display gardens where new plants, plant combinations, and trial plants for the area’s Zone 7b/8a climate can be found.  To view these display gardens, paths lead the visitor from one garden to the next revealing interest, intrigue and imagination to create something similar at home.

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Peering in the garden center from the display gardens, the arrangement of plantings draws one in for a closer look.  It doesn’t take long to realize this Route 17 retail store has a wide variety of plants.  According to Les, “We try to have as much of the new, unusual, underused and rare plants as possible, plus we carry well known favorites.”

The reason Smithfield Gardens is able to offer the unusual is because of their landscape division, which makes up more than half of the business income.  “The fact that we are the main supplier to our landscaping division allows us to keep a wider variety and greater number of plants than other garden centers our size.  We like to think of ourselves as the place where the plant geeks shop, but without alienating regular shoppers,” Les says.

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Smithfield Gardens’ landscape division, which operates off-site on the “farm” in the town of Smithfield, VA is know for its high-end, custom residential design.  Serving clients from the Hampton Roads to the Eastern Shore, Williamsburg and all the towns in between, Smithfield Gardens has built a reputation of quality and desirable work.

Several of the gardens created by Smithfield Gardens have graced the pages of national gardening magazines and have been featured on television.  Quite a few have been stops on the prestigious Virginia Historic Garden tour.

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After 20 years, the Pinkham’s sold Smithfield Gardens to Tom Conway, Jr., who has been working at the garden center since high school.  Who, along with a dedicated staff, have carried on the vision of the original owners, providing plants and creating desirable gardens that are enjoyed by their owners and you as they just may turn up in magazines, tours, and even on TV

Post Script

Les Park’s blog is worth a read.  Enjoy!
A Tidewater Gardener

2009 Hunting Island 047c

Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidences



  1. […] View post:  Smithfield Gardens – a surprise find in Suffolk, VA […]

  2. Janet said

    Great info on the garden/ nursery center. I especially like seeing the map…how much did I miss seeing??? Guess I will have to go back, again and again.

  3. […] View original here: Smithfield Gardens – a surprise find in Suffolk, VA « Gardening … […]

  4. tina said

    If I ever make it out that way I’ll be sure to stop by. I found a nursery similar to this one in that it supplies its commercial landscaping division. What a bunch of neat plants due to that fact. I can imagine how much better that fact helps nursery when they supply their own plants and do their own designs. Great pic of Les.

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  6. Wonderful Helen and so nice to see Les’ place. You did him proud with the write up. It’s such an attractive place. I’ve also read around the net about your visit with a few other gardeners on your trip. Wish I had gone along.

  7. Les said

    I have been waiting to post my thanks. I wanted to see if the blogging world was going to beat down the doors to buy our plants. So far the hinges are holding. Once again, it was great meeting you, and I thank you for the post.

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