Sweet Olive Garden, Gift, & Home
264 N. Shelmore Blvd.Mt. Pleasant, SC, 29464
Owning a neighborhood gift and garden boutique might seem an unlikely career turn for someone with a master’s degree in analytical chemistry, but then, there is a certain science to growing things. And it was a deep-rooted love of gardening that inspired Atlanta-born Melinda Armstrong to open Sweet Olive Garden, Gift, & Home in 2007.
An I’On resident since its early development days (“There were only 30 families living here then,” laughs Melinda), the community seemed a natural fit for her business and her residence—she now lives above the store. And since it’s a family-run operation—originally with help from Melinda’s mother, and now from her husband, mother-in-law, best friend, and her retriever mix Lucy—Sweet Olive completes Melinda’s vision of the friendly neighborhood fixture she’d always envisioned—a place where adults and kids alike stop in for gardening advice, sit for a spell on the front porch, and have a visit with Lucy. “I like that the store is a neighborhood hub—it’s inviting and just feels good to come by,” she explains.
Beyond Melinda’s services planting eye-catching container gardens (she’ll even come to you) and the array of planters, topiaries, botanicals, fountains, and garden statuary, shoppers will find a delightful menagerie of gifts, books, soaps and lotions, home décor, and local art and food items.
Sweet Olive’s blithe, open-door policy translates to happy hours on the porch in good weather, “For whatever reason we can come up with,” and hosting benefits and meetings for local philanthropies. And with the nurturing tendency of any good gardener, Melinda says, “We’re not going anywhere, so we like to contribute and give back to the community we live in.”
Q and A Section
Q: What’s the concept behind your store?
A: To be a welcoming, interactive part of the community and a place that offers a mix of unique items including as many local products as possible.
Q: What are you seeing most in terms of market trends in the Lowcountry?
A: It’s pretty diverse—everyone wants something different, but spring usually inspires people to spruce up their porches and houses. People are also asking about growing more organically and sourcing their plants locally.
Q: What are some of your most popular products right now?
A: Mad Mats outdoor rugs made from recycled plastic bottles are flying out the door—they’re fun, colorful, and need only an occasional rinse with the hose. Also, bamboo fountain kits that allow you to have peaceful water sounds in a small space.
Q: What is the most important piece of advice you can give someone wanting to improve their garden and outdoor living areas?
A: Decide what it is you want from your space. If you want it to be serene and relaxing, add a bed swing and incorporate colors that are pleasing to you. If you want to attract butterflies and birds, that will determine your plant choices and whether you add birdbaths or hummingbird feeders.
Q: What budget-friendly tips can you give to help in porch, patio, and garden savings?
A: Consider items you already have and get creative. Galvanized tubs make wonderful vegetable gardens and flower beds. Utilize unexpected items like a ceramic bowl that you don’t use anymore and don’t discount things that are worn—terracotta pots with chips or cracks have authenticity and look great with something beautiful blooming in them.
Q: What do you recommend as the best time and money-saving resources?
A: Talk to your local nurseries—they’re very knowledgeable and are a valuable resource. Also, The Southern Living Garden Book is invaluable. It’s very specific about the South’s zones and if you know your zone you’ll avoid the frustration and expense of buying plants that may be beautiful in the nursery, but won’t do well in our soil and climate.
Q: What are some of your favorite plants that thrive during our spring and summer seasons?
A: If you have a sunny spot, lantana, penta, and wave petunias will flourish. In the shade, you really can’t go wrong with any kind of fern. Just remember: water, water, water, and water again.