It’s fall, so the garden is filled with mums, pansies, ferns and fall grasses. “We are in a transition season,” said Christy Beal, the owner of Eclectic Nature, the newest garden center in Alexandria. “We have the last of our mums and lots of pansies and colorful grasses. And, of course, we have bulbs. People should be planting bulbs now for the spring.”
Eclectic Nature is located at 1503 Mt. Vernon Ave. and features an outdoor garden filled with plants and outdoor furniture. “I used to work in garden centers when I was first getting started and have always wanted to own one,” Beal said. “The idea for Eclectic Nature was born on the beach last September.”
Beal came home to Alexandria from the beach and put her plans into motion. By March of this year, she had begun work on the house that goes with the garden.
“It was in pretty bad shape when I got it,” she said. “I spent over $150,000 just to get it where it is today.”
The house is a surprise. “I thought I would find garden tools and maybe some decorative garden ornaments,” said Melanie Jones, a customer who went to Eclectic Nature for the first time in September. “Instead, I found this wonderful collection of accessories and furniture and a little bit of everything else. This place is a real find.”
Each room of the small house is decorated in a different color and thematic scheme. The green room is filled with furniture and women’s accessories. There are scarves of wool and silk and whimsical handbags that range in style from art deco to teen funky. There are colorful pillows and a Victorian sofa.
THE CHILDREN’S ROOM is turquoise and holds baby rattles and layette items as well as stuffed animals and decorative picture frames. The dining room table is loaded with interesting dishes and the bathroom is filled with robes and slippers and yummy soaps and bath salts.
“I shop at markets all over the country and at estate sales,” Beal said. “I look for things that customers wouldn’t find anywhere else. I want to appeal to people who live in the Del Ray neighborhood who have small backyard gardens and houses that they are decorating,” she said.
The walls of the house are adorned with art work from local artists. “When I was renovating the house, I contacted several local artists who exhibit at Art on the Avenue and asked if they were interested in displaying their work here on consignment,” Beal said. “It has been a good arrangement for all of us.”
A little at a time, Beal plans to begin to offer gardening classes to adults and children. “I would like to find a way to get the local community more involved in gardening,” she said. “But I’m not going to try to do everything at once. We will see how it goes.”
For now, Beal will offer a house full of treasures and seasonal plants for small gardens. She will have pumpkins and, this winter, will sell cut Christmas trees and firewood.
Eclectic Nature is a complement to Beal’s landscape business, Garden Angel Designs. “I’m not taking on as much business as I did before I opened Eclectic Nature but we still do some work,” she said.