Text by Bethany Adams
A childhood filled with summers spent on Nantucket, Massachusetts, sparked a love of growing beautiful things in Craig Beni. But despite his interest in design and horticulture, Craig didn’t follow the traditional path into the field. “I didn’t come at the nursery business from a typical horticulture background,” he says. “Much of it was really self-taught and encouraged by a genuine interest in the subject matter.”
That interest eventually led Craig to open the Surfing Hydrangea Nursery, where he now offers residents of Nantucket an extensive selection of plant materials alongside knowledgeable direction and advice. “We’re really quite narrow in focus in that, with a couple of exceptions, we almost exclusively sell plant material,” Craig says.
He notes that, when the business first opened, few garden shops on the island placed the focus exclusively on the plants themselves—something he decided to remedy. “Really, from the start, we’ve had this intense focus on plant material and providing really high quality and diversity, and also being able to sell those products with a tremendous amount of knowledge,” he says.
Offering everything from large trees and shrubs to roses and hydrangeas, the nursery takes advantage of the Nantucket climate, which supports a wide range of plant life. In fact, part of the nursery’s job is to narrow down the possibilities in order to offer clients the best of the best.
“We’re living in a time right now when there are a lot of new plant introductions coming out all the time,” Craig says. He explains that he tries to honor tried-and-true tradition while evaluating fresh options. “I think a big part of our job is to try to simplify and curate amongst all the possibilities out there to present our customers with a really great lineup.”
The Surfing Hydrangea Nursery serves a variety of clients ranging from landscape architects planning large-scale projects to homeowners looking to fill a favorite planter. “We attempt to create a situation where, from the moment they walk in, there’s someone who is ready to assist them in any way they need,” he says. “A lot of it’s about showing a really personal, positive experience.”
Craig points out that most of their clients come to them with a “pretty good level of excitement and enthusiasm”—and the nursery is the perfect place to foster that energy. Regardless of their level of experience or horticultural background, Craig makes sure each and every one of his clients has everything they need to foster their own passion for growing beautiful things.