Tim and Melissa Cantelon and their staff at Sandhill Nursery are incredibly creative and community-minded. They’re passionate horticulturalists, committed environmentalists, long-time gardeners and they just know how to create. (Photos: Zach MacPherson)
If you haven’t been to Huntsville’s Sandhill Nursery lately, a lot has changed. Be prepared to be wowed by the significant makeover that the nursery underwent this Spring.
Founded in 1987 and owned by Tim Cantelon since 2002, this now iconic business has become far more to the community than a place to buy plants and trees and arrange landscaping services. Although they do all of that and more, Sandhill has by anyone’s estimation become a true destination.
Marketing Manager Zach MacPherson says, “Tim and Melissa always envisioned creating a destination. They are passionate about their business and they constantly look for ways to bring even more value to their customers.” He adds, “Their attitude is, “bring your kids, bring your dog, bring your friends.” To encourage that they’ve expanded the space with a massive renovation of the old country store, with a brand new indoor, climate-controlled space that will allow them to be open all year round, as well as adding to the showcase space outside of the store.
Just as Sandhill is about more than plants, Cantelon sees his clientele as more than customers. He wants them to have an uplifting experience when they walk the grounds and enjoy themselves while seeking inspiration for their next garden project. The sense of community engagement is strong at the nursery and there is always knowledgeable staff on hand ready to assist you whether you are a new gardener or an experienced green thumb just looking for that extra touch.
It’s hard to take it all in when you first arrive and park. Where should I go first? The store, the ponds, the brilliant floral displays, and the eye-catching statuary of faces and fish and fungi – oh my – all beckon. The environment at Sandhill not only attracts garden enthusiasts but there are also all sorts of little critters that like to pop in and hang around the garden centre. Your kids might even spot a pretty green tree frog trying to blend in or a hungry robin holding a worm.
The original country store and the small log cabin have long been a destination for finding unique interior home and garden decor. Offering unique gifts, fragrant candles, planters in all shapes and sizes, outdoor furniture, art, wall decor, and engaging garden accents.
With the addition of a brand new 3000 sq/ft climate-controlled expansion to the store, the space additionally offers room to showcase a larger selection of indoor furniture, artwork, and of course more unique home decor and items for your entire home. You really have to come to experience it for yourself.
The space outside of the new expansion has also had a significant facelift and has been transformed into a sprawling oasis filled with a stunning selection of everything that any garden or plant lover could desire. There are two, brand new, greenhouses and the new expanded outdoor section has allowed them to carry the most extensive selection and variety of brilliantly-hued annuals and perennials in Muskoka as well as expanding their offering of shrubs and trees.
Marketing Manager Zach MacPherson hasn’t been with Sandhill very long but he is blown away by the countless anecdotes he’s already heard from the clientele and staff about the ever-changing attractions that have become annual traditions for so many families. One of the biggest is the fall festival that goes from Mid-September to Halloween; it’s all about spooky, creative displays, games for the kids, and a host of fun activities for the community with the ultimate goal of giving back and fundraising for local charities. Sandhill is transformed at Christmas into a wonderland of snow, sparkling lights, gaily-wrapped gifts, and the scent of hot apple cider.
The creative touch comes from Tim, Melissa, and the staff. MacPherson says, “Everything they do here is from the collective minds of the incredibly creative owners and staff. They are all passionate horticulturalists, committed environmentalists, long-time gardeners and they just know how to create.” He adds, “Tim is the driving force here for sure. He’s disciplined, hard-working, generous, and has created a wonderful setting and environment to work in, that spills over to the customers.”
At Sandhill, the improvements never stop. A generous walkway surrounding and inside the greenhouses allows for a much more accessible and comfortable experience. When you look down from the greenhouses toward the store and the showcase space outside of the new shop, it really looks like a little piece of paradise. When you see the attention to detail and the approach the staff have to the customers and the garden centre space, you can truly see the passion and love for the craft each one of them has. Everyone here contributes in their own way and has a special part in creating the Sandhill experience.
Of course, being a nursery Sandhill offers one of the largest selections of evergreen, ornamental, shade, and fruit trees. You can grow beautiful apples in Muskoka and the friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you choose just the right one for your location. It might take a little while but homemade pies and crab-apple jelly will (fairly) soon be sitting on your countertop.
Sandhill’s sister store Garden Market is in Burks Falls and serves the area just north of Huntsville with the same wonderful service, warm and knowledgeable staff and, of course, offers some of the same unique products and giftware you are sure to find at a Sandhill property. The garden centre is sporting an additional new greenhouse allowing for an expanded selection of flowers and plants. Garden Market is ready for the busy growing season and it serves its loyal clientele in Burks Falls, South River, Sundridge, and beyond.
Sandhill has always connected with the community through a large social media presence and with the addition of a new in-house marketing manager and photographer, they are able to quickly show off new products and arrivals in the most beautiful way. The imagery is beautiful and there is always something new and exciting to see in the weekly newsletter.
Tim and Melissa Cantelon could well rest on their laurels but they are determined to offer more and continue to build relationships with happy customers while staying on top of the latest trends. The future is looking bright and although the impressive additions and renovations are the newest enhancement to the Sandhill experience, they are unlikely to be the last. Sandhill is more than a nursery, it is a destination.
Below is a sample of the beauty that awaits customers inside.
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