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art in bloom
Story by Audrey Hanes; photography by Amy Long

Jan Bennett-Troutt, a well-known local artist, has found a way to blend her love of art with her talent for flower arranging. The result, Bennett’s Flowers and Gifts located inside Bennett’s Nursery, is a thriving business that specializes in unique floral designs, art, personalized gifts and everything in between.

For decades, the corner of Southwest Drive and Highland Drive has been home to a local nursery. One of Troutt’s brothers, Marty Bennett, and his wife, Dee, took over what was then Porter’s Nursery 18 years ago. Since then, it has served as a garden center that specializes in landscaping under the name of Bennett’s Nursery.

“Marty has owned Bennett’s nursery for 18 years, and I worked on and off for him over the years,” said Troutt, who also worked as a fulltime artist for much of that time. “When he asked me to come back full time, I told him I would if I could open my own flower shop.

“I had been doing flowers on the side for probably 15 years or so, mostly for Bennett’s Nursery customers. I also had several of my friends asking me to do their children’s weddings. They wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I thought I should probably just start flowers on a daily basis.”

Troutt started with daily flowers and deliveries almost three years ago, and Bennett’s Flowers and Gifts has continued to grow and thrive within Bennett’s Nursery ever since. Today, Troutt’s full service floral business has at least one wedding or event booked almost every weekend, and sometimes as many as four.

Because they’re so busy, the rest of the Bennett family is quick to step in and lend a helping hand. Troutt says she has always appreciated the support of her three children, Aria, Mitchell and Jacob, and because both of her sons live in Arkansas, they often pitch in for large events.

“This is a family thing,” said Troutt. “When you get really busy, you call in whoever you can. I’ve called my parents, Ed and Sharron Bennett, in from Hot Springs to help. My sister, Kathy, and other brother, Mel, don’t live here in Jonesboro, but they have always been very supportive, too.”

Troutt is proud that her business has worked to combine floral arranging with artistic expression.

“Everyone who works for me is an artist or has a background in art,” said Troutt. “Our motto is that we do flowers with an artist’s touch. Between all of us, if we have the time and materials, we can really work with people to make whatever they want – from paintings to novelty items and more.”

Troutt says that Bennett’s Flowers and Gifts is unique in that it offers so many personalized gift items and the ability to do custom work. While the nursery itself carries outdoor-related items such as wind chimes, houseplants, bird feeders, Big Green Eggs and more, Troutt’s gift items include customizable gift items, jewelry and monogrammed pieces. The store also carries a variety of vases, baskets and other novelty items that people traditionally have delivered with flowers.

In addition to flowers, customizable gifts and more, Bennett’s Flowers and Gifts carries a variety of artwork in multiple mediums from several regional artists, including Troutt herself. Bennett had been carrying his sister’s artwork inside Bennett’s Nursery for several years, so when Troutt started her floral business inside the nursery, art was an important part of that venture.

Troutt focuses on pottery and painting, most of which are oil and acrylic. She will occasionally do seasonal watercolors, as well. From abstract aspen scenes to bright hearts to beautiful sunsets, Troutt’s art is varied and colorful.

“My work is more of a process,” she said. “Most of my paintings I do in layers. They could have 20 or 30 layers per painting, which creates depth that you can’t get any other way. I like to think that my pieces can either be realistic or abstract, but with a modern, more contemporary twist.”

The talented artist says her floral, art and gift business is a great fit inside Bennett’s Nursery.

“There are a lot of similarities in both businesses,” said Troutt. “We do so much custom work and have a lot of crossover materials and items. It’s nice that I can help his customers; his existing customer base probably helped me get started easier than I would have otherwise. … We also have a lot of employees that can help both businesses, which is really great. We have a lot of crossover.
That’s a big bonus.”

She credits the nursery’s loyal customers with providing her with a steady stream of business for nearly three years, especially when she was first starting out. Today, Troutt’s floral business is thriving, from daily deliveries to special occasions and more.“I’m honored when people come in and I get to help with their weddings, and I’m honored when people come in and ask for us to work with them on sympathy pieces for funeral work,” said Troutt.

“That’s a lot of trust for someone to have in us, so we do our best to give them exactly what they want. “I would love to have more time to do my art, but I need to keep my business growing, so it’s a little dance I’m doing. I still enjoy a beautiful flower coming in; we might have gotten that flower in 100 times before, but we still ‘ooh and aah’ over it.”

Bennett’s Flowers and Gifts, located at 110 Southwest Drive, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store will also make floral deliveries on Sundays upon special request. For more information about Bennett’s Flowers and Gifts, find Bennett’s Flowers on Facebook, visit jonesboroflowersandgifts.com or call 203-9844.