Reflecting on 74 years

This weekend, Garland Nursery is celebrating 74 years in business.  The
Schmidt/Powell family is proud to have served this community for all those
years.  What began as a small farm raising turkish filbert rootstock for the burgeoning filbert orchards in Oregon has blossomed into a paradise for gardeners.  Over the years, we have employed many individuals who have remained lifelong friends and many who have gone on to be leaders in the nursery industry.  We are very grateful for the loyalty and commitment of our present staff and our wonderful customers.  Thank you all so
very much!

For our blog this week I asked each family member to share a special memory about the nursery.  Humans are funny creatures and the stories they shared were about simple, personal things not great triumphs.  I hope you enjoy reading them.

My dad, Don Powell has an especially tender heart and a deep love of animals.  He shared this recollection:  ” In approximately 1947, we had two pet indoor skunks named Fleur and Flower, who helped rid the rock garden of slugs.  They rolled them in soil to get
rid of the slime before eating them.”

Mom, Sandra recalled early days of business operations: “We collected money in a cigar box in the small greenhouse, which was also the lunchroom for 3 staff members.  The greenhouse was in the center of the existing perennial area and parking was all around it.  We used to park the tractor in what is now our gift store.”

My younger sister Erica shares this revealing story: “Why is it we are always reminded of our most embarrassing moments?  Mom likes to remind me of the time I rode through the nursery on my bicycle wearing nothing but my Mickey Mouse sunglasses, a pair of rubber boots and a big smile.  Mom had to chase me up the bark mulch pile on a busy Saturday.”

My sister-in-law, Linda e-mailed me this reflection, “For some reason I remember my aunt Gunda from Germany visiting the nursery one summer and we had to hand water plants because our water flow was too low or the water had been shut off (for the hundredth time due to a burst pipe!) and it was super HOT.  It reminded me of the movie, A Walk In the Clouds, where all of the family is out waving fans to save the grapes from frost.  It is just a reminder of what a family business entails for all of us helping out.”

Lee, my taller yet younger, handsome brother had a hectic week and I didn’t get a chance to obtain a special memory from him.  Perhaps he would have recalled mowing one of the many acres of grass on the property, getting up early to turn the irrigation on to wash the frost off the tender plants, or fixing (for the hundredth time) a burst water pipe.

My husband, Mitch, says, “I enjoyed walking through the nursery with you, looking at all the plants and realizing just how many different plants there are.”

As for me, well I could go on for a very long time with recollections and stories.  My fondest memories are of the small concrete and glass greenhouse that my mother referred to in her story.  It was always warm and steamy in the growing portion.  That’s where the plant cuttings rooted and the seed germinated.  There was a beautiful Camellia of some kind planted inside.  It had magnificent, pinky-red frilly flowers with mesmerizing yellow stamens in the middle of the petals.  I cried the day they tore down the greenhouse and removed that plant!  At one end was the staff breakroom.  There was an old-fashioned soda machine.  The bottles hung on a metal grid and you slid them to the end where you could pull them up.  On hot days, sometimes the soda had ice crystals in it.  Stuart Fraser, a cosmopolitan Scotsman, who regularly donned a kilt, was fascinating to me.  He smoked hand rolled cigarettes, drank coffee with real cream, and ate Triscuits and cream cheese.  He could read and write Japanese script and was our first bonsai expert.  Patti Fry worked at the nursery then, too.  She is a lifelong friend and special person to me.  Her daughter, Susan worked at the nursery for a little while, too.  She was just a little bit older than me and had these perfectly manicured, painted fingernails, which she managed to keep pristine simply by wearing gloves.  I remember Susan King, who owned an MG convertible.  One day we drove into Corvallis for lunch with the top down.  Thus began my love affair with convertibles.  I had many crushes on the cute boys (men, really) that worked during the summers and on weekends.  I loved to weed or water,
while getting a sun tan and listening to my portable radio. (Yes there was music before the I-pod!)  I remember seeing my parents work hard all day and then go off to social engagements, dancing, or doing volunteer work in the evening.  I grew up here.  My pets are buried here.  The land, the business, and the love of plants flows through my veins.  I’m proud to be a part of this family and this business.

In life, it’s really all about the small things.  I am thankful for every small thing.  I’m thankful for each person that has been a part of Garland Nursery: family, friend, employee and customer.  I am thankful I get to do what I love to do.  And I am most especially
thankful that Garland Nursery is still around to celebrate our 74th anniversary.

About Brenda Powell

I'm one of the owners of a family-owned retail nursery. I have a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. I love to garden and read. My technically savvy but horticulturally challenged husband, Mitch, spends most of his time as slave labor in the garden. Thank goodness he adores me! My goal in this blog is to share my enjoyment of gardening, my love of nature, and my addiction to books. Did I mention I like to cook, too?
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