Florala VFD could bill insurance for response

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 15, 2011

When Casey Teel describes his new business — Andalusia Garden Center and Landscaping — he speaks with passion.

Teel, 23, is a 2006 Straughn High School graduate and 2009 Auburn graduate. He earned a degree in, you guessed it, horticulture. He opened his new business, which was formerly known as Howell’s Nursery, three weeks ago.

It’s been a busy three weeks, too.

“I wanted to come home,” he said of his decision to purchase the 4 ½-acre nursery. “I worked with Coach (Pat) Dye at his Japanese Maple farm from the December before I graduated up until May. Like I said, I wanted to come home. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded that I should go into business for myself.”

Gardening enthusiasts are no stranger to the former Howell’s Nursery. Teel said he plans not only carry the same local flora and fauna favorites, but he also plans to expand the available selection.

“I’m looking to create a large garden center,” he said. “I plan to expand to include garden supplies as well. I really want to push my landscaping, which is what I really love. We also offer simple things like mowing and pressure washing for the home, too.”

He also plans to offer a large selection of bare root trees.

“These are a lot bigger than those that are container grown,” he said. “I also want to start growing my own plants, which we’ll be able to offer and sell.”

Teel said he also offers computerized landscaping services.

“With my program, I can give a person a visual of what their space would look like without having actually planted the first plant,” he said. “I take a picture and by using this program, it gives an actual picture of what the finished product would look like.”

Teel said he has one fulltime landscaping laborer on staff and uses “free labor” to run the nursery.

“What that means is my family. I pay them in flowers,” he said jokingly. “Except for my sister. I have to pay her for real.”

The center also offers whimsical pretties for one’s yard, such as handcrafted birdhouses made by Teel’s grandfather, wind chimes and bee catchers.

A die-hard Alabama fan, Teel said it was difficult to attend school at Auburn.

“I’ve always been one of those kind that didn’t like school,” he said. “But, I knew I had to do it, so I didn’t mess around. I’m a devout Alabama fan. I didn’t plan to go to Auburn, but that’s what happens when they’re the only agriculture school in the state.”

Teel said he knows 23 is young to be a business owner, but it doesn’t faze him.

“I know you have to start young to learn a lot,” he said. “And I’m not afraid of hard work.”

The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. It is located on U.S. Hwy. 29 North, just past Shaw Industries.

A grand opening will be held Saturday, where Teel plans to feature large trees such as river birch, bald cypress, red oak and live oak, at a discounted price.