Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2004

Baldwin greenhouses offer variety of plants

April 8, 2004

Deciding which variety of tomato to plant or whether Gerbera Daisies or African Daisies would work better in a flower garden isn't always easy.

But Baldwin gardeners have a bit of an advantage in selecting plants and flowers by living in this area -- mainly, the numerous greenhouses from which to choose.

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The Baldwin area is home to a number of greenhouses, all of which offer similar products. But Christy Carlisle, owner of C. Designs Floral and Garden, believes the fact that each greenhouse also specializes in one field enables the area to support so many garden establishments.

"I think we're all unique," Carlisle said. "We all have a different outlook on how we handle things and how we do things. We all specialize in a certain aspect."

Herbs galore

Herbs are the specialty of one of Baldwin's newest greenhouses. Mid-American Herbs, which opened Friday at 1743 N. 200 Road at the former Maple Leaf Orchard, has more than 165 varieties of herbs -- everything from culinary and medicinal to ornamental and aromatic herbs.

Mid-American Herbs owner W. Alan Gardner, who has been growing herbs for about two years, spent the last year selling his herbs wholesale. But this year, Gardner said, he decided to offer his herbs to the general public.

"We grow a wide variety of herbs," he said, "from the every day common herbs to the unusual."

He also offers butterfly plants and scented geraniums as well as ornamental grasses, annuals and bedding plants.

But Gardner, who is on the board of the Great Plains Herb Growers Association, said his primary focus is herbs, and getting people accustomed to using them on an everyday basis for a variety of needs.

"I'd like to be on the cutting edge to getting the midwest caught up to the east and west coasts," he said.

Mid-American Herbs is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday from April through October. Gardner said he plans on expanding his business to include a full-service garden center and an additional greenhouse.

Other future plans, he said, include incorporating a cutting garden where people can cut their own fresh herbs, an edible flower party and an herb festival.

Gardner encouraged people to take advantage of the variety of fresh herbs available at Mid-American, if for nothing more than the experience.

"The experience is a lot of it," he said. "Coming out to a greenhouse and experiencing herbs is fulfilling."

Plants upon plants

Ray Ogle knows a little about herbs, but his specialty at Baldwin Junction Greenhouse is geraniums, poinsettias and chrysanthemums.

Though his focus is on the colorful plants, Ogle, who grew for a Kansas City greenhouse for 12 years, said he has a variety of plants and flowers -- more than 200,000 fill his greenhouse.

"I try to carry as much as possible," he said. "I lean more toward some of my favorite plants and things I know that will do well, and avoid things I know don't do well."

In his second year at 1271 N. 222 Road, just south of the Baldwin Junction, Ogle features perennials, vegetables, strawberries and herbs.

"We have over 50 different tomato varieties and over 30 different pepper varieties," he said.

New this year, he said, are his shrubs and trees.

But he said what's important is that he grows most of his plants and flowers.

"Since I grow my own, I can offer a better product," he said.

Gardener education

One of Christy Carlisle's goals at C. Designs Floral and Garden is to help the gardener with planting choices and techniques.

"Our main focus in the greenhouse is to help people educate themselves about the earth and their own gardens, and help them create an atmosphere they're comfortable in," she said.

C. Designs, which has been at 215 N. Sixth St. for eight years, offers 30,000 pesticide-free plants from which to select, as well as birdbaths, fountains and other items for the garden once the plants are in place.

Carlisle said a new feature this year is the plant program Prairie Stars.

"It's a wide variety of plants that are proven test worthy in the prairie environment," she said. "They can endure the heat, abusive winds and drought."

But the garden planning, she said, doesn't stop with the purchase of plants. She said C. Designs will also help gardeners plan their gardens for every season.

"We can help you have flowers in the spring, summer and fall, and all in one garden," she said. "We can help you organize the plants in the space you have."

Landscape help

Vinland Valley Nursery is also willing to help gardeners get their perfect gardens.

Amy Albright said Vinland Valley Nursery, at 1606 N. 600 Road, features landscape design services to accompany its 10 acres of perennials, annuals and trees and shrubs.

"We just try to have everything anyone might ask for," she said. "We search for things that might be a little unusual, a little harder to find, and we also have the bread and butter stuff, too.

"We just have a lot of everything."

She said the location allows the 7-year-old nursery to have landscaped areas to help gardeners visualize what they can do in their gardens.

She said the nursery will also work with gardeners one-on-one to determine how to get the best garden.

"We help people figure out what to plant, what will work, which is something chain stores can't do," she said.

Unique relationships

That's something Carlisle said makes the Baldwin area greenhouses unique.

"I feel at any one of the greenhouses here, you'll get that little extra attention and tap into their knowledge," she said. "The greenhouses here, we blow the mass marketers stock away in quality and care."

Albright said she thought gardeners liked the variety of Baldwin greenhouses.

"All of us just seem to do a little bit of a different thing," she said. "Serious gardeners seem to like to travel from place to place. It's not like grocery shopping where they knife in and knife out as quickly as possible."

Carlisle agreed.

"It works to our advantage to have this many in this tight of a space. By being independent and different, it all works," she said. "We're all individual and we can all work together."

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