Snow's Garden and Landscaping Center History
Snow’s Garden and Landscaping Center has been serving Charlottesville, all the surrounding Counties, Waynesboro and the entire Central Virginia area for over 100 years.
First Generation: Founding a “Market Garden”
The business was founded in 1912, when Leroy H. Snow and his new wife Maggie came to Charlottesville from Upstate New York with their newborn son. They started a “market garden” raising vegetables and garden plants and selling them to local stores and residents. Leroy had previously worked in a market garden, and this was an opportunity to put his green thumb to work with a business of his own.
Maggie’s father owned land on Carlton Avenue, just southeast of downtown, and let Leroy and Maggie use it to plant and raise a variety of vegetables – everything from sweet potatoes to kale. They also raised and sold flowers and vegetable plants. They bought an old greenhouse located on Pantops Mountain and relocated it to the Carlton Avenue lot, where it stood until 1970.
In those early days, the business was simply known as “Snow’s” or “Snow’s lot.” Later, they bought a large house on a half-acre lot on Carlton Avenue for $1,800 and turned it into Snow’s first retail outlet.
Second Generation: Expanding “Snow’s Nursery”
It was a family business from the beginning. The Snow’s first child, Leroy W. – who was born the same year that his parents started the business – remembered helping to raise vegetables and plants as a young boy and delivering them to local stores and other customers.
In 1936, the younger Leroy Snow took over the business, by then called “Snow’s Nursery,” and expanded it to sell trees and shrubs along with landscaping and maintenance services – including a large-tree removal and replanting service. His wife, Viola, became the bookkeeper. (They also opened a florist business, then sold it in 1969.) During that time, the Garden Center moved from its original location in the heart of the Belmont neighborhood to a spot on Water Street, where the City Market is today. In order to continue growing, they relocated the business to prime hilltop acreage that the Snow family owned on 1875 Avon Street Extended in 1969.
In 1942, Leroy W. started the “SnowKnows” radio program, giving advice and tips to weekend gardeners and do-it-yourself landscapers. The show continues today on WCHV 1260 AM and 107.5 FM radio every Saturday morning – making it the longest continuously running gardening show in the world. Leroy’s son Duane and now his grandson Corbin have hosted the show over the years.
Third Generation: Moving On and Up
In 1970, Leroy’s son Duane graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah and returned home to Charlottesville with his wife Rena to work in the family business. In 1978, Duane and Rena took over management of what was then called “Snow’s Garden and Landscape Center.”
Some of the landscape projects completed during Duane’s tenure with the company include the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester, the Hershey Chocolate plant in Stuarts Draft, the Charlottesville Downtown Mall trees, the University of Virginia Medical Center, the Virginia Forestry Department headquarters in Charlottesville, along with thousands of residential properties throughout the Central Virginia area.
Fourth Generation: A Big Little Family Business
Snow’s Garden and Landscape Center passed to the fourth generation of the Snow family when Duane and Rena retired. Duane and Rena’s son, Corbin Snow, now serves as president.
Today, the business serves thousands of customers a year and employs almost 50 people, including seasonal employees. The nursery contains hundreds of varieties of shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, herbs and, of course, vegetable plants! The landscape materials portion of the business has been steadily growing to include not just Snow’s Famous Topsoil & Mulch, but bulk gravel, landscaping stone, patio and retaining wall materials, and more.
Landscape design services have also evolved from basic hand sketches to sophisticated, multi-media presentations. Snow’s design team can develop a simple concept sketch, a computer-aided black-line plan, or a 3-D fly-through animation to help you visualize the beauty of the final product.
Specializing in designing and creating beautiful, functional outdoor living spaces, properties of any scale can be transformed from a blank canvas to a magical place for you and your family and friends to enjoy. Basic foundation plantings have given way to patios, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, garden rooms, and spaces to relax and entertain, all the while taking advantage of the varied terrain and beautiful vistas available in the Charlottesville area.
Snow’s has become an icon of Charlottesville and the surrounding area. Renowned for its landscape design services, the quality of its plants and other products, and the expertise of its staff, Snow’s stands ready to serve Central Virginia for generations to come.