Small Wonder

A profusion of plants, handmade cards and gifts sprout
from Greensboro’s The Tiny Greenhouse

By Jim Dodson

Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Proof that very good things come in small packages — and sometimes small places — is the perfectly named, and charmingly curated, The Tiny Greenhouse on Beaman Place in Greensboro.

Tucked into a fairly anonymous brick office building between the Pig Pounder Brewery and The Music Academy of North Carolina, this gem of a shop specializes in unique and hard-to-find houseplants, original handmade greeting cards and paper goods, as well as Korean pottery, original art prints, vintage posters, locally made candles, select British toys and fine children’s books — artfully displayed in a wee 900-square-foot shop that recalls your favorite neighborhood confectionery from a much slower America.

The creators of this endearing discovery are married co-owners Suzanne and Edgar Cabrera, a pair of gifted interior space designers who ditched teaching interior design at UNCG and a commercial gig with a top Italian furniture company respectively after their twin sons, Max and Miles, were old enough to attend school.

“The shop was something we’d always dreamed about doing — creating a little place where we could sell unique things we designed and made ourselves, including greeting cards and things made by others locally,” explains Suzanne, a daughter of North Carolina’s mountainous Avery County. She met Edgar through friends after he — a native of the Dominican Republic — relocated from New York to Raleigh in 2000.

Edgar’s particular passion for growing spectacular houseplants stems from his early childhood in the Caribbean “where everything was green most of the year,” he cheerfully relates. He explains how what started with an interest in growing a few houseplants has swelled into a full-blown expertise that fills every nook of the Lilliputian shop — including its tiny bathroom — with gorgeous and exotic houseplants, the Latin names of which trip off his tongue with impressive ease.

The Tiny Greenhouse — aptly named for an actual tiny greenhouse Edgar (also a gifted craftsman) built in their backyard off Pisgah Church Road — opened on January 1, 2017, with a selection of their own greeting card designs and “three houseplants I brought from home,” quips Edgar, 28.

“It wasn’t the biggest of openings in the dead of winter,” allows Suzanne with her sweet mountain-cured drawl, “but it had special significance to us. 2016 was a difficult year for both Edgar and me — we lost family members — so it was nice to start a new year on an optimistic note by starting our business.

“We love it that regular customers drop by to see what’s new. Something new is always happening here — new cards for every season and special occasion, and especially in the plant department,” she adds, smiling at her husband as he shows off his unique eco-friendly daily watering system.

Indeed, for a plant lover and soul in search of a unique greeting, what a tiny paradise it seems — racks of clever cards, beautiful antique prints, and  exotic foliage everywhere you look, including gorgeous philodendrons and various kinds of prayer plants, noble euphorbias, fiddle-leaf figs, a large section of succulents and a pair of hardy foxtail ferns.

For the record, during a visit just before deadline time, our plant-loving eye fell covetously on a particular rare begonia from Holland that will take us back to this tiny jewel of a shop for a plant very soon.  h

The Tiny Greenhouse is open weekdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located at 1331 Beaman Place, Greensboro. Phone: (336) 420-3064.

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