With a focus on locally harvested plants and organic, non GMO seeds, the garden department at Appalachian Ace Hardware, located in Franklin, is expanding to become your local, hometown shop for all your garden needs.

“We are excited about the opportunity to expand our garden department and are working with a list of local growers throughout western North Carolina and the surrounding areas to stock native, home grown plants,” said Josh Patrick, owner of Ace Hardware. “We are excited about the opportunity to bring a unique, one-on-one approach to the garden department that can’t be found anywhere else.”

In addition to focusing on native plants and quality products, Appalachian Ace Hardware is bringing in an expert, William (Bill) Messina, to run the department and be a resource for the community. While Messina is new to Appalachian Ace, he is a familiar face to many in Macon County, having worked at Spring Valley Nursery for nine years.

Messina started his work in the horticulture field at Five Points Home and Garden Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when he was just 16 years old. He attended The University of Georgia where he earned his BSA and MS in horticulture.

After college, Messina was hired to be the horticulturist in Manatee County (Bradenton, Florida) with the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Messina was responsible for the development of innovative programs in commercial citrus and nursery growers as well as homeowners.

After taking time away for his love of horticulture, Messina served in the United States Navy and is currently a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Before moving to Franklin, North Carolina, Messina taught Horticulture at Iowa State University.

“I hope to be able to talk with customers one-on-one and get an idea of what they are wanting to do with their gardens and help them figure out the best way to accomplish that,” said Messina. “A lot of our customers are new to the area and aren’t familiar with the soil and what it takes to grow here, so we want to be able to do more than just help pick out the perfect seeds and flowers, we want to be a one stop shop for everything you need to grow a garden in Franklin.”

Messina said Appalachian Ace Hardware’s garden department will specialize in affordable soil options that are best for the mountains and growing in a unique environment.

“We have had a few warm days, so people are ready to get outside, but they have to remember, that here it is just as likely that we can have temperatures in the single digits in April,” Messina. “We want to help educate our customers on the best practices.”

Patrick said that Messina isn’t the only change coming to the garden department, but Appalachian Ace will also be expanding its outside garden area with a kid friendly area that will be used for hands on classes for people of all ages.

Patrick and Messina plan to have the first classes ready in time for mother’s day to give their little customers a chance to create something special from the garden time just for mom.