Work their Passion at The Greenery
July 2023 Issue
By Lesley Kyle
Photography by Lindsay Gifford
“Let the Beauty of What You Love Be What You Do.”
-- Rumi --
Janet Fanning and Lisa Kiggans are part of the staff at the employee-owned Hilton Head institution, The Greenery. Combined, the two of them have enjoyed going to work each day at that beautiful spot on William Hilton Parkway for nearly 40 years. Janet and Lisa are passionate about their work, but they are also enthusiastic about sharing their talents, knowledge, and experience with residents and tourists alike.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, The Greenery offers services from landscaping, irrigation, and outdoor lighting to aquatic management of community ponds, golf course lagoons and the like. Among the services for which The Greenery is best known, however, are its garden center and home and gift shop.
As manager of the Garden Center, Janet is an educator. She moved here from Long Island, NY, in the 1990s after vacationing at her uncle’s condo. “It’s a great place to raise a family,” said Janet. “There are so many opportunities for kids to learn about the environment and the world around them.” A former kindergarten teacher with an early childhood MSC degree, Janet now draws on her teaching experience and training while educating the local community about her other passion: Getting her hands dirty. Gardening became more than a hobby at a young age when she worked in her family’s yard with her dad. Now, Janet spends her days working with plants and helping customers, both neophytes and seasoned gardeners, reassuring them that failure is sometimes part of the learning process.
A native of Pennsylvania, Lisa made her way to Hilton Head through a college internship at the Marriott Resort. Like Janet, Lisa moved here the following year. “Hilton Head was a cool place to live, so I decided to move here permanently and make it my home,” said Lisa. “Hilton Head has a small town feel without the snow, but with the same community vibe.” As gift and home shop manager, Lisa runs the shop as though it is her own business. Company co-founder, Ruthie Edwards, hired Lisa and taught her the ropes of antiquing, buying, and retailing. Ruthie, a retired interior designer, continues to mentor Lisa and joins her on excursions to procure new products for the shop.
Repeat customers are another favorite part of their jobs. Janet and Lisa both fondly reflect on the relationships they have built with customers over the years—many who have become akin to an extended family. In their experience, they also encounter customers who, “visit The Greenery for its park-like feel, the birds, and lots of nature,” said Janet. “Customers come here for inspiration; it’s a relaxing environment.” Janet finds her inspiration while looking for new products and will soon attend Cultivate 2023, an industry convention in Columbus, Ohio. “I’ll spend time with like-minded people and take side trips to see what others in the field are doing. I enjoy learning from others in the industry and just being outside.” One side trip will lead her to Ohio State University to view and study trial gardens where new plant varieties are developed.
Lisa finds inspiration during her buying trips to Atlanta with Ruthie. “Ruthie once said, ‘I want everyone to feel comfortable and find something they can afford to buy here,’” said Lisa. “I remember and honor that advice during these trips as we visit various area showrooms.” Lisa also takes photos as reminders of what she has seen to recreate the displays from her travels in the local shop. A former freelance visual merchandiser and florist, Lisa also finds insightful ideas on the pages of Instagram and Pinterest. She incorporates her experiences in the beautiful displays seen throughout the shop.
Aspiring gardeners and customers are encouraged to shun some conventional gardening and traditional décor rules. “You can fail, and that’s okay!” Janet reiterated. “It took me a whole growing season to figure out this climate!” She encourages gardeners to look at their neighbors’ landscaping efforts and observe which plants work in different locations and environments. Janet also suggests bringing photos in to seek help and advice. Another local resource is the Lowcountry Master Gardener Association’s weekly plant clinic, staffed by master gardeners and interns every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to Noon. The clinic takes place at the Beaufort County Services Building located at 539 William Hilton Parkway. Visit the website for additional information: www.lowcountrymga.org/hilton-head.
When the shop first opened, it was filled predominantly with antiques and dark wood furniture favored in years gone by. The shop’s clientele has changed over the years and so have the products they sell. As tourism has grown across the region, their inventory has shifted to items that easily fit in a suitcase. Lisa encourages people to surround themselves with an eclectic mix of things they like—like antiques—while adding new pieces along the way. “Green is a hot color in home décor right now,” said Lisa. “Plants add life to a room and are good for your health.” She disavows the notion that all elements of home décor need to match. “Don’t be afraid to throw a pop of color into the mix. Changing pillows or a throw with the season can transform the entire look of a room.” Whether it’s working in the yard with new plants or refreshing your home’s interior design, Janet and Lisa agree: Have fun!
Festive Holiday Tablescape Ideas:
• Think Summer: Incorporate red, white, and blue in your table setting design.
• Disposable paper table runners, place mats, and napkins in coordinating—but not matching—colors make for easy clean-up.
• Choose shatterproof tableware for outdoor events.
• Wrap a seasonal placemat inside a vase for a fun patriotic accent.
• Battery-operated LED blue and white light garlands can be used in a variety of ways throughout the year.
• Add a touch of whimsy to your design! Lucite napkin rings serve as petite flower vases at each place setting.
Tips for Patriotic Container Planting:
• Select plants with the same sun exposure requirements. Grouping pollinators is another interesting approach!
• Visualize your arrangement before planting. The tallest plant doesn’t have to be located in the middle of your arrangement—it can be in the back. An off-kilter design is fun!
• Use ribbon, flags, metal pieces and even ceramic birds in your pots. These materials can be used year after year.
• Shells add a coastal touch but wash them thoroughly to remove all traces of salt.
• Hydrate new plants before planting and make sure your pot has drainage at the bottom. Avoid crowding for proper aeration.
• Turn some plants on their side for an interesting visual effect. Plants don’t need to be upright to thrive!