3650 Colham Ferry Rd.
Watkinsville, GA 30677
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Who we are
Specialty Ornamentals is a small woody plant nursery with big ideas. We work hard to propagate and grow good garden plants that are often, although not always, out of the ordinary. We test all our plants in our landscape test beds for hardiness, cultural requirements, and toughness. We offer only those that pass our test. This is our specialty.
We are a small motley group. I am Flo Chaffin, the primary propagator, and I also have a hand in most everything else. I have a Horticulture Degree from UGA. I have served on the national board of the American Conifer Society and am a Past President of the Southeast Region of ACS.I am also proud to be the Synder Merit Award winner for the ACS in 2012. I am a member of the National Garden Writers Association and the International Plant Propagators Society. I give talks to garden clubs, Master Gardener Groups and other Plant Societies about a number of topics: Conifers, Japanese Maples, Rock Gardening, Hydrangeas, Deer Proofing, and other topics. I offer local Sunday classes on a number of horticultural topics, and also holding extended classes as part of a B&B program in the winter months.
Our emotional and structural support comes from my husband Joe Chaffin, who spends his spare hours designing, building, repairing, and tractoring. As if that weren't enough, he is now our master grafter, and has propelled the nursery into such fun plant material as Pines, Abies species on Abies firma rootstock, heat tolerant Japanese Maples, and witches brooms of all kinds. He is my rock, and the foundation of many of the improvements here.
Our most recent addition is Adam Autry. Adam comes to us via gardening friends in Milledgeville, GA, and is in the Athens area as a Landscape Architecture student at UGA. He is eager to learn about plants, and we are eager to teach him. We also have a delightful parade of volunteers and part-timers including gardeners, artists, writers, and friends. Each contributes to making us "Special".
We work hard. We love what we do. We are always eager to learn something new and to continue to improve what we already know. I owe a great inspirational debt to Drs. Allan Armitage and Michael Dirr. Their knowledge and enthusiasm first encouraged my passion for plants. The present nursery and all its potential would not have been possible without the generous support and guidance of the late JC Raulston. His tireless and selfless efforts on behalf of the horticultural industries set a high standard for me, both for my business and my own personal life.The NC State Arboretum, which now bears his name, has also been an invaluable asset.
We have many good friends and colleagues who have supported, encouraged and pitched in to help us move forward with this dream. You will find links to some in our Educational resource section. Some have no presence on the web, yet make their presence well known here. We are grateful to all of these friends. You know who you are.
What we do
Our primary specialty is the propagation and culture of good woody plants for the southeastern garden. Often the plants we grow are not plants that are easily found in the trade for one reason or another. Maybe they are harder to propagate. Maybe they are slower to grow out. Maybe their season to shine is at a time when retail customers do not visit their local retail nurseries. Whatever the reason, these are good garden plants, and ones we consider "must haves" to bring year round interest and enjoyment to your garden.
It is also our specialty that we grow and know our plants very well. Each selection must have succeeded in our trial beds under Spartan conditions. These trial areas are part of our demonstration and display areas. We can answer questions about our plants and their uses, their culture, and their outstanding characteristics. We like to sell plants, but we also like to educate our customers to make the whole experience a success.
For our wholesale customers, we also offer custom propagation. Please ask us for details.