East County gardening enthusiasts are a fortunate bunch compared to most Harbor residents. While green-thumbers in the county’s most populous area — Aberdeen and Hoquiam — are mainly limited to big-box stores and their rather generic nursery stocks for the garden, those in Montesano and Elma and all areas in between have numerous, interesting options just a few miles away, depending on location.
One resource to find such small businesses is the annual Farm Fresh Guide to Grays Harbor County, which lists several of these nurseries and their whereabouts in the annul publication. There are several of them listed among the 30 local businesses in the guide.
But The Vidette recently went looking for some of the best and most conveniently located nursery operations in the East County and came up with a list of four places local gardeners may want to check out to add color and crops to their backyard bounties.
Cindy’s Plant Stand
1199 Monte-Elma Road (360) 482-3258
Owner Cindy Knight has operated her “plant stand” since 1971. Knight is a self-taught tomato plant specialist with scores of varieties, including many heirloom tomatoes. She also sells vegetable starts, berries, annuals and perennials.
“I’m not growing as many varieties as I used to. I’ve had as many as 200 (tomato) varieties in a year, but I’ve cut way back. It seems people aren’t gardening as much as they used to.”
The plant stand, which is actually a small nursery, opens in the spring until first killing frost from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and some Sunday afternoons opening around 2 p.m., and Knight is a cornucopia of free gardening info.
To get there, take Schouweiler exit of Highway 12 and turn right on Monte-Elma Road. You’ll see the colorful signs.
Juel’s Unique Nursery
350 E. Satsop Road
(360) 482-2441 — www.juelsuniquenursery.com
From a modest start 14 years ago, owner Julie Sanchez has created a truly “unique nursery.”
“I started out with just one greenhouse and a couple of pallets out front, so I’ve expanded at least an acre since then,” Sanchez said.
While she specializes in sedums, there’s a vast array of stock to select from, all of which is selected for Northwest climates.
Scores of fruit tree and berry varieties along with native plants, citrus, paw-paws, olive, loquat, mullberry, fig, almond and combination fruit trees. There’s a large selection of shade trees, perennials, grasses, hostas, cactus and succulents. The spacious and well-designed grounds include water plants and ponds, a play area for kids, two aviaries with doves and finches, a picnic area and a creek running through one of the display gardens. New this year, Juel’s is offering U-pick berries and vegetables when they are in season. Sanchez has created several display gardens, including low-maintenance, vegetable, water gardens and flower beds. She even has wasabi plants for sale. She also sells farm-fresh eggs.
Juel’s Unique Nursery is open Feb. 1 to Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m each days and by appointment during the off-season. To get there, turn on East Satsop Road, past the cemetery and then drive a little less than two miles up. Follow the signs. The nursery is on right up long gravel driveway.
Satsop Landscaping & Nursery
746 Monte-Elma Road
This large, well-stocked nursery is on the east side of the Satsop Bridge on Monte-Elma Road. Paul Peterson has owned and operated his nursery and landscaping business there since 1985.
He offers landscape design and installation along with a large nursery, featuring oodles of specimens of trees, shrubs and perennials that thrive in the local climate.
“We specialize in anything,” Peterson said with a grin, when asked about his huge selection of varieties compared to some big-box store garden centers. “The selection is much broader here,” and his prices are competitive.
Peterson said he’s “open just about every day year-round, but we take a couple of days off in the winter. We’re open seven days a week during planting season — March to October.”
The hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
At Satsop Nursery, Peterson and his staff propagate a lot of their own stock — especially vegetables and tomatoes — and also create all their own hanging baskets, including the cedar planters themselves, which Peterson constructs during his down time.
“It keeps me busy during winter,” he said.
Peterson notes that with the summer closing of the bridge over the Satsop River on Monte-Elma Road, visitors need to take the Satsop exit off Highway 12 to access the nursery.
For more information, check out the Satsop Nursery page on Facebook.
Garden Starts Nursery
20 Rosemary Lane, Elma
This is the newbie among the group, having been opened by owners Jerry and Melanie Whitney just a few years back.
This is a place to go if you’re looking for a bargain, with most prices being about half what you’ll find at any big-box retailer. There are scores of $1 tomato starts; 1-gallon blueberries for $6, salad bowls for $6, along with several varieties of Japanese maple and other trees such as red twig dogwoods. Garden Starts sells lots of varieties of 4-inch annuals for $1 and even more for just $2. It’s a good place to stock up or for gardeners who need to fill a lot of space inexpensively.
It’s a seasonal “hobby” nursery for the couple, as Jerry works a full-time job as a millwright in Shelton. But it’s a way to bring in some extra money and so far, this season, things have been good.
“It’s a lot of work, especially with a full-time job,” Jerry said, “But we’ve done a lot of business this year, especially for Mother’s Day.”
The nursery with two greenhouses is open 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily from the last weekend in April until the end of June. They’re set up to take debit and credit cards and have a website at www.gardenstarts.com.
To get there, take the first exit past Elma rest stop (Heise Road) on eastbound Highway 12. Follow the signs.