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The duo behind downtown garden center Meeting Green maximizes small spaces for big impact

The duo behind downtown garden center Meeting Green maximizes small spaces for big impact
April 2024

Sam Metzger and Kendal Leonard host seasonal markets and hands-on workshops at their verdant space

Sam Metzger and Kendal Leonard opened Meeting Green after recognizing the lack of garden shops downtown.

Along the highly trafficked upper reaches of Meeting Street, a pint-size urban oasis blooms in plain sight. Meeting Green, the verdant brainchild of Kendal Leonard and Sam Metzger, is equal parts garden center, design consultant, and community gathering place. And since opening in 2018, it has evolved much in the way Leonard and Metzger design green spaces for their clients—naturally and with unmistakable personality.

Both plant enthusiasts, the couple came by the business organically. Metzger grew up in Hilton Head, working on landscape and turf projects. He moved north to earn a business degree at the College of Charleston and, after graduating, continued his turf grass business and expanded into landscaping. Meanwhile, North Carolina native Leonard studied textiles at NC State University before relocating to the Holy City for a change in scenery. The two met serendipitously as downtown housemates and quickly hit it off. 

After recognizing downtown lacked accessibility to nurseries, the pair decided to change that. Drawing on Metzger’s landscaping background and Leonard’s creative mind, they began to build out a petite plant shop on an overgrown lot at 1451 Meeting Street. The size is a virtue. The .23-acre footprint forces them to be savvy with space: going vertical with shelving. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. 
With a design-focused approach, the two embrace Meeting Green as a work in progress, with new structures and displays taking shape over the years to suit customer behaviors and better showcase plant varieties. There’s a greenhouse with tropicals and a shade structure for the sun-adverse. “All have personalities of their own that we link together with hardscaping, which shows off the installation side of our business,” Metzger says. 

They specialize in designing small green spaces (left) and host classes and markets at the garden center (right).

The space doubles as a showroom, modeling their work for design clients (services span full-yard landscaping, hardscaping, and container gardening). Meeting Green also handles plant needs for local businesses—Hotel Emeline and The Ryder Hotel among them. No matter the job, the approach is the same: collaborative and transparent, Leonard says. “It starts with understanding what people do in their space, asking, ‘How much do you want to care for your yard?’ We can achieve practically any aesthetic with plants appropriate to Charleston’s zone—translating vision to reality is about being dynamic.” 

The duo especially welcomes the challenge of maximizing downtown’s oft diminutive green spaces. “Our niche is boutique-style courtyards and other smaller spaces,” Metzger says. “You can do so much with the help of stonework, fountains, and container gardening.” 

Tying it together is programming: hands-on classes—from container gardening to wreath-making—and seasonal markets. This spring, they plan to debut e-commerce with local delivery and a subscription service for pre-arranged container planting. While much is in evolution, the vision is fixed: Leonard and Metzger are growing an accessible gathering place for aspiring green thumbs and seasoned pros alike, cultivating community in their small corner of Charleston.

Tips for planting with personality
■ Use containers to bring in color, especially in shady areas.
■ Add landscape lighting to immediately elevate your yard.
■ Install water features to add an audible element.
■ Consider stonework to tie everything together.