Planted in the heart of downtown: Friends open curated garden shop in Manteo

Published 3:21 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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When friends Tanya Lamo and Amy Underwood caught up over a cup of coffee last February, they discovered that they shared a dream – opening up a specialty plant shop in downtown Manteo.

In just three short months, after finding a perfect location, getting enthusiastic approval from the Town of Manteo, and roping their husbands into doing a lot of painting, the doors to Bough & Vine were officially opened.

The owners describe Bough & Vine (the name is a nod to the abundance of native trees and Manteo’s Mother Vine) as a curated garden shop with unique fresh houseplants and related soft goods.

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Perhaps it’s all the oxygen in the room or (more likely) an intentional plan by two creatives, but a step inside the double doors at the Magnolia Pavilion and you feel as if you’ve entered an oasis.

Tall ceilings painted white are softened by warmly lit chandeliers.  A forest green stencil covers the floor.  Thoughtfully sourced antique and vintage pieces hold small potted plants like spider plants, succulents and a variety of ferns.

“We’re trying to find things that you can’t get everywhere,” Underwood said. “We are already getting requests. [The list of what we offer is] growing organically.”

Customers are invited to select a fresh plant and a unique container and pot it right at the store using soil provided.

Visitors are drawn to the hanging pots, the miniature African violets, and the Venus flytraps growing in cultured tissue. The owners plan to offer some larger houseplants, garden tools, botanical prints from local artists, and some antique furniture pieces.

“We want to have things that are aesthetically appealing at a good price point, and a good mix of old and new,” Lamo said.

Bough & Vine owners have a vision of offering much more than just plants and accessories.

“We were excited to transform the space into such a great place,” Lamo said of the room, which was formerly used for bicycle rentals in the summer and for visiting Santa Claus in December. “We really want it to be a place where people can linger, have a book club or a Bible study, use the table and the couch and have an intimate gathering any time of the day.”

The shop is available to rent for parties or showers. The owners envision bridal parties gathering together for an evening to create – with some instruction from Lamo (who has a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture) – their own bouquets for a wedding.

They want to help support other local Manteo businesses by offering food and beverages for these events from neighboring shops, and also by offering botanical-related items from local vendors.

Since the opening on May 24, one of the best things, Underwood said, has been watching friends come in and catch up. “It can be difficult to find places to gather and we wanted to be one of those,” she said.

The shop is also offering classes for the community on topics like building a terrarium, learning the art of macrame, and, later in the fall, classes on tablescapes and wreathmaking.

The first class, Explore African Violets, was held in June and taught by expert African violet grower Brenda Petry. Visitors learned about the history, care and propagation techniques of these special plants and were able to take home a potted plant and two cuttings of unusual African violet varieties.

Lamo is quite familiar with African violets. Her parents grew 10,000 plants each year in the barn of their Pennsylvania farm for the Philadelphia Flower Show. Lamo helped her parents and also sold some of the unusual varieties of African violets online during the early years of Ebay. She later earned her master’s degree from Penn State University in corporate innovation and entrepreneurship.

As the Dare County director for NC Extension and also serving on the Town of Manteo’s Main Street committee, Lamo has been involved in community revitalization conferences and workshops. “I’ve been to a lot of beautiful shops and community spaces. They call it ‘a sense of place’ where people have the opportunity to just feel like they belong and can linger there … it’s been fun to try and make that kind of space for people to hang out.”

“And seeing people enjoy the space that we’ve seen in our heads,” Underwood added. She has sourced the vintage and antique pieces and arranged the visual experience in the shop. As an owner of numerous rental properties, she has had years of overseeing interior design and decoration. “I know what I like and other people seem to like what I like, too,” she said.

The shop will be open through the third week of December as part of the Manteo Business Association’s campaign to encourage residents to shop locally for the Christmas season, then close for the winter months.

The community response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, according to the two friends. “We’ve just had the best, warmest response from the community and from visitors. We feel so excited that we have a space here in downtown Manteo. It’s almost surreal,” Lamo said.

The Magnolia Pavilion is owned by the Town of Manteo, and it is described as an “incubator” for small businesses to help them start out and thrive. Several county commissioners attended their (quite gorgeous) magnolia flower and vine-cutting ceremony and several others have cheered on the new business.

“Bough & Vine is a great addition to our Main Street town!” said Manteo Mayor Sherry Wickstrom. “I am excited about the fresh and creative business concept for the space at the Magnolia Pavilion. The uniqueness of the store, with its focus on classes and events, will provide a different type of experience for residents and visitors. Tanya and Amy are well suited for this business model and they have brought whimsical charm to the space that draws people to come in and take a look around.”

“It seems all the best cities and towns have boutique plant or flower shops in the heart of town,” added commissioner Michael Basnight. “Now Manteo has one too!”

Bough & Vine will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and for Frist Fridays and town special events. They are available for plant rehabilitation and for interior design consultation. Find them on Facebook, Instagram or online at