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Anne Trimble at her eponymous Cutchogue nursery in February. It recently reopened for a 28th season. (Credit: David Benthal)

Walking through Trimble’s of Corchaug Nursery in late February gives a visitor a unique perspective on both the Cutchogue property and the women who run it.

The greenhouse is empty and the plantings on the property have not yet blossomed for the year.

Minus the annuals and perennials you ordinarily visit the popular nursery for, your focus instead shifts to the decorations that line the Main Road site. You can’t help but notice how so many of the items around the yard tell a story about the owners of the business or their friends and regular customers. 

From nearly any corner of the four-acre parcel you can spot an old license plate hanging somewhere. One shed features a row of different New York and Rhode Island plates, the two places co-owner Anne Trimble has called home.

“We started hanging them and people just kept bringing them,” Trimble said in her charming New England accent, which really sneaks out every time she uses the word garden (quite often in her line of work). “We even have plates people brought all the way from Germany and Ireland.”

After three decades in business, Trimble’s — which Anne runs with her partner, Nancy Leskody — is like a second home on the North Fork for so many garden enthusiasts. Beyond the retail operation, the nursery provides landscaping services — the more profitable end of the business — and the staff prides itself on making sure the business is also a place for sharing knowledge, imparting decades of horticulture experience on anyone who cares to listen.

For Trimble, her professional experience began in surprising places. The daughter of an aircraft mechanic dad and a mom who at one time worked as a florist, she adopted her father’s work ethic and her mother’s interests by getting into horticulture. The Pascoag, R.I., native was initially pursuing a philosophy degree at Roger Williams College in the early 1970s when a sudden interest in houseplants inspired her to switch majors.

At the advice of a friend, Trimble sent a chance letter to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden inquiring about employment opportunities at graduation time. Her very first job out of college was in the education department at the iconic site.

“What I really wanted to do though was work in the garden,” she recalled. “But back then (the late 1970s) only men worked in the garden.”

Inside the main retail greenhouse at Trimble’s of Corchaug in Cutchogue. (Credit: Sascha Rosin)

So she reserved her green thumb for freelance opportunities designing small urban residential gardens and designing terraces. In the early 1980s, she became a full-time horticulturist for Tavern on the Green in Manhattan after she met with owner Warner LeRoy about a possible job as a consultant for the famed restaurant. Her office for that gig: a garden in Central Park.

“You get to know every dog walker in the city at a job like that,” she joked. That’s also where she met Leskody, who was working in operations with the New York City Parks Department. Leskody describes that chance encounter as “hitting the jackpot,” saying Trimble taught her everything she knows about gardening.

Working for Tavern on the Green would also sometimes bring Trimble out to the North Fork, which she said reminded her a great deal of her native Rhode Island. She’d visit places like Talmage Farms and Van Bourgondien Greenhouses for plants and fell in love with the area.

When she and Leskody, a Valley Stream native, learned of the opportunity to purchase a former greenhouse in Cutchogue, they jumped at it. This April, they’ll reopen for their 28th season, selling everything from plants to shrubs and even rare trees to the property, where they also live.

“I still love it,” Leskody said of the business. “You don’t always get the chance to think back on where you came from and what you’ve built and it makes me really proud of our staff and proud of Anne for what we’ve accomplished together.”

Leskody said from the beginning they knew they needed repeat customers from a seasonal business in a rural area. So to do so, they needed to sell good products and make sure they always gave great advice.

“I still see customers coming in who I can remember being there our very first year (in 1991),” she said. “I guess we were right. That model works.”

Features like the idea garden, which was dedicated in memory of Leskody’s late brother, Stephen, also help set Trimble’s apart from similar businesses. There you’ll find outside-the-box garden decorations — bowling pins come to mind — that, along with unique planting choices, can inspire you to be more creative when decorating your own yard.

Trimble said she wants to make sure customers always receive an educational experience at their garden center and she’s even hoping to start a lecture series there.

“People here really want to beautify their houses,” she said. “What we do helps make people feel good.”