Monday, 24 August 2009 03:00

From Valley to Mountains to Valley Again

I scheduled too much for today and did not think it possible to really do - or at least do well.  My goal was to visit every customer from Central Point/Medford Oregon through Mount Shasta, California.

 Ten visits and surprisingly no tickets later I am in Redding (hot - already miss the Oregon weather!).  Unfortunately a few owners were not it, so a few visits were shorter than desired - allowing me to get to my last appointment before closing.

 I grabbed the camera twice for quick snapshots.  

This is what you see driving up to Four Seasons Nursery in Central Point, Oregon - right alongside the Crater Lake Highway.  Impressive hanging flower baskets all along the front and side of the nursery.  I should have taken time to walk down the road and catch the whole front - but time was not on my side.

As the day came close to the end, I snagged a photo at Spring Hill Nursery in Mount Shasta. 

The entrance to the nursery is being covered by Wisteria.  Would love to see it next spring.  This helps to show how hardy Wisteria is as it gets real cold here on the slopes of Mount Shasta in the winter.

Published in Ron's PhotoBlog
Monday, 17 August 2009 03:00

A Garden or a Garden Center?

Today I was again dumbfounded by a hidden gem of a nursery, far from the normal flow of traffic.

Singing Tree Gardens was supposed to be closed today but I thought I would drive by to take a look anyway.  Fortunately, the gate was open waiting for a service company and I drove in.  Otherwise I could not see the nursery from the road because of a long, winding driveway.

 I am thankful that Don did not throw me out when I showed up and was not the expected repair man.  Instead he showed me their incredible display gardens, showcasing trees and shrubs in landscape settings with the canned products displayed as it might go in your home landscape.  What an inspiration for the homeowners!!!

 I do not know if they rent out for weddings, but these were beautiful display gardens suitable for events of that caliber.

I'm glad (for my sake anyway) that the repair man was 2 hours late because that is how much time I spent admiring the gardens and photographing them.

One product we sell a lot of is the Forest Pansy Redbud.  In our hot climate, they grow just fine but do not hold the red-purple color in the foliage.  Not a problem in McKinleyville.  Take a look at this gorgeous tree!


If you are ever in the McKinleyville, California area, be inspired at Singing Tree Gardens. 




Published in Ron's PhotoBlog
Saturday, 15 August 2009 03:00

Success in Small Communities

Making Your Presence Known

Teaser photo:

We have a number of customers along the scenic Sonoma and Mendocino coastline.  I had to see  how how some of these small communities of 300 to 600 people can support two to four nurseries each.

Each one has their own story.  Here are just two.

Tony Ventrella tells me how his Gualala Nursery on the northern outskirts of Gualala seemed to be nearly invisible to the motorists accelerating up the grade after leaving town.  Even his friends missed him waving as they passed by.

His creative solution is to display and sell dinosaurs and other huge, metallic, artstic sculptures from the nursery. 

Now all the "kids" in us have got to stop and take a look.  

Once touring the nursery, dinosaur lovers pick up a few more manageable purchases to take home with them.  And every once in a while one of those huge behemoths sell and ship home to their own Jurassic Park.  Of course Tony supplements his income with a successful landscaping business.

 Display Gardens

Another nursery that blew me away is Digging Dog Nursery in Albion.  They occasionally buy a few things from us so I thought I'd pay a visit.  I sure did not expect much - especially after trying to find the way off the main highway.

What a pleasant surprise!  Here is a place that makes a living through mail order - mostly self grown plants suitable for the UPS handlers which explains why they do not buy a lot of our trees.   But the owner, Gary, also does landscaping.  To show his prospective clients what a finished tree or plant looks like at maturity, Gary has created a full display garden with tall hedges, grass walk ways, arches - a full English like garden.  It was stunning and so unexpected.

His employees proudly explained how they were recently featured in the Fine Gardening Magazine.  I agree - a great place to photograph and show off horticultural products and landscaping talent.  I applaud such greatwork!  If you are in the Albion area, I recommend taking a look.

None of these nurseries order a lot of trees by themselves, but when you put it all together, it justifies running a a truck up the coasline.  I wonder if the office would miss me if I drove the truck next January?  Would love to see the picturesque rugged coast with the winter storms.  On the other hand, a 24 foot bobtail might not fit where I sometimes park my Nissan Sentra to get those scenic shots.

Published in Ron's PhotoBlog
Friday, 14 August 2009 03:00

Labor of Love - the Making of a Business.

 First the teaser photo:

On this 12 day trip I figured I might take a few snapshots of customer sites along the way and share them.  Day 1 started yesterday at 2:30 AM with a 6 hour drive and then 9 visits.  No time for photos.  Today started much later but 10 busy visits and a few photos.  The dilemma: how do I not offend some by not showing their sites along with the others?  After all, there are incredibly large, successful high end nurseries, and newer, smaller ones.  And everyone is working their tails off to be successful.

So with a little wisdom, I've decided not to attempt to post many customer site photos at this time.  Besides - I'm beat at the end of the day.  But I had to share this experience from today.

About the photo: I had an interesting visit with a couple that is new to the nursery business.  Last year Love Farms in Healdsburg bought a number of fruit trees and grapevines.  So I decided to stop by and see what's up.

I met Ron Love and his wife Bibiana.  They are Organic Farmers, eeking out a living by starting a new organic farm and working other jobs at the same time.  Some of the trees they planted and the others were or are being sold in their roadside nursery.

What I like about our industry are the wonderful people who are so down to earth and friendly.  Ron showed me his farm, and the new cleared land for the next planting.  Bibiana was canning tomatoes.  Life looked like it was currently lived on a shoe string.  Yet Ron bragged about his farmers market paying off his substantial start up costs.  A lot of melons moved by hand with sore backs accomplished that feat. 

After discussing tree care and the challenges of the nursery business, Bibiana wanted to give me a gift before I left.

Yesterday, their Ostrich layed this egg.  I've seen photos but never held such a humoungous thing.  Although I really did want to take it to show my grand daughters, I figured this large egg rolling around my hot car for 10 more days was not a very wise thing to do.  So I left the egg with the Loves to do with it whatever you do with eggs this large.  Omlette anyone?

And here is the big bird that layed it.   It was eating unsellable melons. 

Amazing to see quarter mellon sized chunks of rind bulging down its skinny long neck.



Amazing creature. 

I appreciate the work ethic of the Loves.  Over the many, many years, we have  developed long friendships with people who work hard to build a successful business and livelihood.  I wish them well.


Published in Ron's PhotoBlog