The Growing Scene
New and expanded nursery offerings in Silver City.
Jubilation! Spring is officially here and my desire to garden is recklessly insuppressible. Quick, someone give me the right-hand equivalent of Hannibal Lecter's no-cannibalism mask or I won't make it until "frost's over day."
Kendra Wolf holds a blooming rosemary, one of many herbs she grows along with vegetables and flowers at the new Country Girls Nursery. (Photo by Vivian Savitt)
If you are feeling the same urges, subdue them! Read a new gardening book (like Concrete Garden Projects, mentioned later) to keep you away from the good earth a while longer. Take your garden plan to a nursery to find that perfect site-specific plant or tree. How exciting that this year two Silver City nurseries have enlarged their spaces and added more merchandise — and a new one opens April 17.
That addition to the growing scene is Country Girls Nursery at 2906 Mountain View Road, which features two large greenhouses for growing vegetables and ornamentals. Owner Kendra Wolf, 41, who was an ardent Future Farmer of America (FFA) in high school, grew up on a farm near Cliff, in close proximity to her grandparents' ranch. So the country-girl moniker is bona fide — Wolf was "raised" cultivating a vegetable garden and fruit orchard.
"Back then," Wolf recalls, "I was more interested in eating from the garden than working in it."
Times have changed. After success with her "hobby greenhouse," and the encouragement of friends, husband and relatives to grow a business, Wolf "did the math" and decided to forge ahead. Wielding a larger spade now, her goal is to create a "well-rounded nursery." Wolf makes her own soil and does not use pesticides.
Last year at the Silver City Farmers' Market, Wolf says that she sold 750 plants, including tomatoes, chile peppers, herbs and some flowers. Then and now, she is assisted by her 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, the other "country girl." Together they plan to continue stocking their booth at the Market as well as running the new nursery.
Expect to find rose bushes, shade plus apple and peach trees, raspberries and table grapes among other items to be available at the nursery location, open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (575) 313-1507.
From the Ace Hardware Garden Center, 3025 Hwy. 180 E., supervisor Kristi Dunn (formerly of Dunn's Nursery) reports that a 10% discount is offered on any purchase of five plants. Fruit trees — ranging from cherry to pear — are now available along with "a full line of Botanical Interest seeds, including heirloom and organic varieties."
Dunn says that the garden center's exterior space is now fully utilized to accommodate staple plants for landscape contractors.
"We still carry a great selection of winter-hardy Vietnamese pots and fountains," she adds, "as well as plants chosen specifically for this climate, including species that are deer resistant and drought tolerant such as those from Mountain States growers."
Open Monday-Saturday 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (575) 534-0782.
A 2,000-square-foot expansion into a warehouse space at Silver Heights Nursery, 1950 Hwy. 180 E., enables owners Regina and Steve Vinson to supply customers with many often-requested items, including shade cloth and landscaper-grade weed barrier.
"We also have redwood trellises, rain barrels, benches and much more in the new space," says Regina. "Our rustic wine barrels from Oregon still retain the scent of Pinot Noir!" she laughs. "This year we have pottery in all shapes and colors from Malaysia, China, Italy and Mexico — as well as locally made garden art."
If you subscribe to the nursery's informative blog (www.silverheightsnursery.blogspot.com) this month, you could win a $25 gift certificate or a Fox Farm (the fertilizer folks) gift bag. Customers who already subscribe are eligible automatically.
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (575) 956-3159.
Besides these new and expanded operations, Silver City area gardeners have several other choices to exercise their green thumbs.
The garden center at JD's Feed and Supply, 402 Silver Heights Blvd., will feature flowers, vegetables and herbs similar to last year, as well as Ferry-Morse seeds. Sue, who heads the garden operation, says that deliveries will also continue twice a month. Open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (575) 538-2187.
If this is the year that you are determined to create a pond in your garden, Peaceful Ponds, 121 Kirkland Road, can provide both aquatic plants and fish — plus lend expertise and pond maintenance products to your project. Contact owners Kelly or Paul Osuna at (575) 574-5544.
And don't forget two other gardening meccas previously written about in this space. Mimbres Farms, the area's largest certified organic greenhouse (April 2011), opens for the season on April 12 with an array of locally grown bedding plants, a "shade room" and a wide selection of native and drought-tolerant plants. It's at 2290 Hwy. 60, two miles from where Hwy. 152 and Hwy. 61 meet. Open Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Heirloom fruit trees are now part of the mix at Lone Mountain Natives in Arenas Valley (June 2008). Owners Mark Cantrell and Tricia Hurley continue to offer seeds, wildflowers, cacti, shrubs and trees naturally suited to the area. See them at the Saturday Silver City Farmers' Market and at Gough Park on Earth Day, or make an appointment for a visit. (575) 538-4345.
Get your plants. Then make garden art.
If you don't mind lugging 50-pound bags of concrete, you will be delighted with Concrete Garden Projects by Swedish writers Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson (Timber Press, 2011, paperback, 131 pp., $19.95).
I had fun just using gallon-sized black nursery pots as molds to create a concrete stand for a patio garden table. Then, in clay class, I designed a glazed pizza-shaped top for it. This kindergarten undertaking was a first step in tackling other projects, from stepping stones to unusually shaped planters. For the stronger and more ambitious, the Swedish women also explain how to form bird baths, concrete benches, house numerals and other items.
Project instructions are accompanied by photographs so the reader can easily visualize each step in the process. For example, the stepping stones are created from heavy-duty cardboard tubes that are sawn beforehand into smaller molds — round and perfectly shaped for a garden pathway. These may be embellished with mosaics, pebbles or a scroll-patterned rubber doormat to serve as a stencil.
Besides purchasing concrete and collecting molds, the only other materials you may need during the construction process are a large bucket or tub for mixing the concrete; a trowel or large spatula; cooking oil to prevent the concrete from sticking to the mold; protective gloves; and plastic sheeting for keeping larger projects moist during the drying process. If motivated, buy spray paint and stencils, find pottery shards and mirrored glass to imbue your personal concrete creation with style.
Most of the projects are easy and inexpensive. Concrete is durable and weathers beautifully. As the authors emphasize, it's an excellent foil for greenery and water.
If you are game, let me know how it goes and whether stirring concrete summons images of ancient Romans planning an aqueduct. By all means send me photographs of your completed project.