Proven Winners welcomes 11th Signature Garden

Jun 21, 2024
Proven Winners welcomes 11th Signature Garden

The Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina in Willard, North Carolina, has earned the designation of Proven Winners Signature Garden, making it the 11th of these high-profile properties in the U.S.

Thanks to the trust and support in Proven Winners demonstrated by The Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina leadership and staff, wholesale nursery and garden center Johnson Nursery and the gardens’ development team, this new Signature Garden will leverage its conservation goals with its expansion plan to broaden awareness and attendance for those who will enjoy the nature trails, waterways, and wooded areas in their future plans.

“The diverse balance of ornamental horticulture, engaging nature and a healthy calendar of agrotourism events promise to make The Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina a showcase destination for Proven Winners products and gardening ideas,” said Josh Miller, Proven Winners landscape manager.

The Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina in Willard, North Carolina, has earned the designation of Proven Winners Signature Garden

The Signature Garden certification is awarded to high-profile properties that demonstrate a strict set of criteria including high visibility, demographic synergies and a commitment to quality landscape presentation. Visitor traffic and revenues are enhanced by improved guest interest, garden tours, additional event opportunities and visitor appreciation.

“Signature Gardens serve many purposes for both their stewards and their visitors,” Miller said. “For the stewards, it is their proud expression of ornamental gardening excellence because they know and appreciate that Proven Winners is committed to introducing plants with the best garden performance. There are many positive takeaways for the visitors, whether they are local residents who visit often, industry professionals passing through to make decisions for the following season or garden tourists who are looking for their next destination.”

Johnson Nursery was founded in 1981 by David Johnson

Johnson Nursery was founded in 1981 by David Johnson, who quickly realized that he needed a space to see the plants the nursery was growing at maturity. This desire for a display garden led him to establish The Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina on an adjacent property. Now a nonprofit, the gardens’ mission is “to improve lives by cultivating inspiration,” and is open to visitors, garden clubs, families and professionals, inviting everyone to appreciate the beauty of nature. Encompassing acres of native hardwood forest, walking trails, creeks, agricultural fields and more, the expansive property is sure to attract visitors year-round with its engaging events and beautiful grounds.

“Being a Gold Key grower for Spring Meadow Nursery, we have all this diversity – more than we could have ever imagined,” Johnson said. “It really amplifies the need for a garden because we want to know what does well here. We want to be able to speak to our customers knowledgeably and tell them why Proven Winners has a better hydrangea. It’s one thing to see a pretty picture and one thing to grow them in a 3-gallon container, but having them in the ground for us is really beneficial. So now we know, and our sales teams know, and our customers can see the end result.”

The new Signature Garden is now the fourth in North Carolina along with Creekside Gardens, Pinehurst Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Resort. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that showcases a spectrum of garden applications, allowing visitors to see a comprehensive display of Proven Winners genetics, including solutions to many common garden issues like dry shade and heavy root competition.

“This Proven Winners Signature Garden is important to the Southeast and features a full complement of Proven Winners plant varieties that thrive in the Southeast region,” said Tom Ewing, Proven Winners landscape program developer. “Unique to this garden is the fact that it is adjacent to Johnson Nursery’s retail location, providing visitors a local source for displayed plant materials within the garden.”

Learn more about this and other Proven Winners Signature Gardens at

Photos courtesy of Proven Winners.