A Brief History of Woodlanders Nursery
In the 1970's Robert and Julia Mackintosh moved from the island of Grenada in the West Indies to Aiken, South Carolina. Both had backgrounds in architecture, landscape architecture and biology. After finding property in Aiken and renovating a turn-of-the-century house which now serves as Woodlanders' office, they turned their attention to creating a garden. Amazed at South Carolina's botanical diversity and the unrealized garden potential found here, they began collecting information and plants. With the goal of sharing these little-known and underused native plants with other gardeners, they began propagating them and by the spring of 1980 they had a small list of plants for sale. Their mailing list was the membership of the North Carolina Wildflower Preservation Society. South Carolina had no such group.
In seeking out people who had been involved with the cultivation of native southern plants, the trail led to Bob McCartney at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia. Colonial Williamsburg's gardens relied heavily on native plants and for more than decade Bob had been collecting, propagating and introducing into the extensive gardens and grounds a wide range of seldom cultivated species.
In the summer of 1980 Bob joined the Mackintoshes as a partner in the new nursery which became incorporated as Woodlanders, Inc. A new catalog was ready in September of 1980 and the shipping season was set from October through March. In 1982 Woodlanders was joined by George Mitchell, a native of Grenada who had worked there with the Mackintoshes. When the Mackintoshes retired from day to day operations at Woodlanders, Inc. they moved to Raleigh, NC where they purchased, maintained and enjoyed the historic Margaret Reid garden and home. A daughter lived nearby and they took time to travel spending most summers in New England. Julia died in August of 2013 and Robert in February of 2016. They are much missed by everyone at Woodlanders and by many friends in the horticultural world and beyond. The nursery is being operated by Bob McCartney, George Mitchell and Carl Dawson, with the help of a dedicated staff of employees.
During the 1980's and 90's Woodlanders grew steadily into an internationally known source for more than 1000 kinds of rare and hard-to-find plants. As nursery propagated native plants became increasingly popular, and other native plant nurseries appeared, Woodlanders continued to offer a very wide choice of new selections. They also recognized the great need for a more southern emphasis on new plant introductions from abroad. While other public and private horticultural institutions focused on new plants for colder climates, less hardy new plants for the Deep South were hardly considered. Woodlanders began offering many exciting new warm climate garden plants heretofore unavailable to southern gardeners. A number of these plants, both native and exotic, first offered by Woodlanders are now widely available. However, through our own searching and through our global contacts, we continue to introduce new plants and selections and offer them to our worldwide clientele.