Our History

Since our humble beginnings in 1932, Gemmell's Garden Centre has become a local institution, renowned for our dedication to quality, locally grown product, knowledgeable advice, and friendly customer service.

Locally Grown

Since 1932 Gemmell’s Garden Centre has been growing locally.

Rob Gemmell is the third generation of this horticultural family to operate the greenhouses and along with his mother Liz, they grow some of the most beautiful plants in Eastern Ontario.

Their current business includes a large retail space that sells annuals and perennials, vegetables and herbs, their famous custom designed Victorian hanging baskets and planters, plus a huge selection of trees, shrubs, evergreens, fruit trees, and roses.

Additionally, there is also a garden gift shop and an extensive selection of outdoor garden accessories.

Over 90 years ago, Donald Gemmell, Rob’s grandfather, first began selling flowers, fruits and vegetables, in Smiths Falls, at the same location where our flagship store is now located.

A small roadside stand and a honey house were built where he sold his cut gladiolus, raspberries, strawberries and honey.

He soon became well known in the community for excellent quality plants and his passion for growing, particularly his beloved pansies.

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Here We Grow

In 1932, new glass greenhouses were built at 52 Church St. W. in Smiths Falls, next to the family home.

Donald, along with his wife Lillian and his sister Eva Beach, worked together to bring beautiful plants to the local community.

Some readers may recall their childhood days spent anxiously awaiting that first ripe banana, fresh from the greenhouse. Soon after a new generation of Gemmell’s, Ron, Ralph and Carlisle, were born.

The business grew again in 1967 with a move back out of town to its original location on Highway 15, where several greenhouses were constructed. Donald and his three sons operated Gemmell’s Sunnydale Gardens where Ralph Gemmell was the primary grower.

Ralph and his wife Liz worked tirelessly at the family business as their young sons, Robert and David, grew up running through the greenhouses.

They loved to work alongside Grandpa Gemmell, growing snapdragons were a particular favourite. Rob was smitten with the bug to grow from the beginning, while David’s interests always lay in the mechanics.

Mr. Gemmell worked with the plants in the greenhouses right up until his passing in 1979. This event became a major turning point in the family business and in 1982 the business was split into Gemmell’s Flowers, owned and operated by Ron & Janice Gemmell, and Gemmell’s Garden Centre, owned and operated by Ralph & Liz Gemmell.

In 1987, Rob became an active partner in the business with Liz and together, with their hard working team, they continue to bring the tradition of locally grown top quality plants to the surrounding areas.

Grow With Us

The garden centre is renowned for selling unique and beautiful plants to the gardeners of Eastern Ontario. We are famous for our beautifully custom-designed Victorian hanging baskets and planters as well as always growing the latest and greatest introductions. Being ahead of the trends has always been our strong point; we have the pleasure of custom-growing flowers for several local townships, the U.S. Embassy and many other businesses.

In 2009, Rob implemented a horticultural pot recycling program at the garden centre that recycled 8,000 lbs of plastic in the first year. Being a ‘green’ business is an important mission of Gemmell’s Garden Centre where we use many biological controls in the greenhouses and offer a full line of eco products to customers.

In 2012, Gemmell’s expanded to a second location to serve the gardeners of Brockville, Ontario where we ran a seasonal garden centre operation from April through October. In 2021 Gemmell's built a permanent, year round garden centre destination at 885 Stewart Blvd, opening its doors on May 1, 2021.

The most compelling aspect to Gemmell’s Garden Centre is our drive to continually change and transform in order to keep on top of the latest gardening trends. The continued growth in their customer’s interest in the ‘Grow Your Own’ movement has resulted in a vastly expanded line of herbs and vegetables including the coveted heirloom varieties.

We hold an extensive line of fun seasonal garden workshops where customers come from as far away as Orleans and Kingston to participate and learn. From Succulent Log Planters and Tropical Terrariums to Rustic Windowbox and Evergreen Urn Workshops, there is something for everyone. We have many other exciting dreams and projects in the works.

As the fourth generation of Gemmell’s start getting their hands in the dirt, one thing is for sure… this family has growing in their genes!