The remnants of spider webs and scarecrows may still be lingering outside, but at Scottsdale Farms in Milton, the end of October marks the start of the Christmas holidays.
“Usually, we have a little over two weeks to get the inside of the barn looking perfect for Christmas after the fall pumpkin patch,” explained Heather Grubb, barn manager for Scottsdale Farms.
But planning for the holiday season is nearly a year-round project at the busy nursery and garden center.
“Keep in mind, we have been planning the Christmas season since [last] January,” laughed Grubb. “[We start] buying for Christmas in January, product starts arriving in July and then at the end of October, we start installation. It is a process!”
And it’s a process that has been fine-tuned over the years since Scottsdale Farms opened in Milton in 2000.
But Scottsdale Farms is more than just the “go to” place to kick your holiday spirit into high gear. It’s one-stop shopping year round for everything on your list, and perhaps items you never even knew you needed.
“Scottsdale Farms is special. It’s more than a nursery – it’s a small gem within the Milton area,” said Grubb.
She said people driving past the 65-acre location on Birmingham Highway may not even realize it’s much more than just the place you buy your flowers and shrubs.
Step inside the barn, said Grubb, and you’ll find beautiful displays of home interior décor, unique floral arrangements, fashion and jewelry items, custom services and a café where you can get lunch or a latte.
Scottsdale Farms traces its humble beginning to Sandy Springs, where founder Luca Gianturco opened a Christmas tree lot to help pay for college expenses. Although that original location still sells Christmas trees during the holiday season, construction of Scottsdale Farms in its present location began in 1999.
“We began construction of our garden center in what was a bit of a remote location here in Milton,” said Grubb, marveling on how much Milton has grown.
But while the area grew up around the site – and demand for the products increased – Grubb said Scottsdale Farms kept to its business model of planned growth.
“Over the years, our philosophy has been to grow the business methodically so that we can control quality,” she said. “Growing beautiful plants for our homeowners is our focus, but over the years, landscape design/installation, interior home products and interior design have become [equally] important to our customers.”
Grubbs said community events, such as the Pumpkin Patch and Enchanted Christmas Tree Forest, and fundraising events for special causes have also been well received.
Grubb has deep roots in the agriculture business, having grown up in Illinois on a family farm. She, her husband and two children first moved to Atlanta in 1996, before relocating overseas for a decade with her husband’s job. In 2012, they returned to Georgia, settling in Milton.
It was then that Grubb discovered Scottsdale Farms, when she used the company for landscaping and other home renovation needs.
“After a year of going in to the nursery and store, Dan Kaminski, the manager, asked me if I wanted to work part-time in the nursery during peak seasons,” said Grubb. “He knew I was new to the area and liked to work with plants – and it was an opportunity for me to get out of the house.”
She eventually moved to full-time, taking on the role of barn manager where she manages all aspects from buying, receiving, merchandising and sales.
Her team includes floral and boutique manager DeBorah Loomis, who has a background in design, and head visual merchandiser Damon Bartraw, who has more than two decades in the design business working for retailers like Von Maur, Saks Fifth Avenue, Expo Design Center and numerous luxury boutiques.
Grubb said the family atmosphere at Scottsdale Farms is what draws customers from all across the region, and keeps them coming back. Every season brings with it new events and offerings.
“Our fall season is amazing with the pumpkin patch, hayrides and animals here on the farm,” she said. “And right after fall season comes Christmas, [with] fresh cut trees, custom garland made by our employees, wreaths and beautiful décor items inside the barn.”
While every season brings its own unique offerings, Grubb admits Christmas is her team’s favorite time of the year. The entire staff works together on all the festivities and activities going on at Scottsdale Farms.
The season kicks off with the Christmas open house in November, which Grubb says is the busiest day of the year.
“The night before [the open house], we close our business as usual, and then have all of the staff help decorate the trees and the barn,” she said. “When our customers arrive on our opening day, they are always mesmerized and delighted at the transformation. It is truly a Christmas wonderland.”