The growing season: Whatcom plant nurseries seeing influx of home gardeners

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 29, 2014 

With temperatures finally starting to warm up in Whatcom County, many residents are looking around the yard and realizing it's time to visit the plant nurseries.

Visits and phone calls to local nurseries have jumped the past couple of weeks, and one of the main topics was dealing with the damage winter brought to plants and trees.

Winter was not particularly kind this past season: A cold snap suddenly greeted Whatcom County after a warm fall, not giving enough time for some plants to go dormant. Then the snow and nor'easter winds in February broke branches and damaged plants.

"The key is to have some patience with (the damaged plants)," said Nancy Henshaw, co-owner of Kent's Garden & Nursery at 5428 Northwest Road. "Don't destroy them before you know it's gone."

For some local gardeners, this year will mean finding a new nursery. It will be the first spring in more than 40 years that Bakerview Nursery won't be open. The popular nursery closed at the end of September.

Another longtime business, deWilde's Nursery, has noticed the influx of former Bakerview Nursery customers. Owner Margaret Rudy said they've added a few new vendors to expand the plant offerings to attract new customers, as well as added free gardening classes on Saturdays.

Henshaw said Kent's also has noticed new customers visiting. They've started classes and have begun adding more plants.

One local nursery was busy this winter doing a complete makeover. Vander Giessen Nursery in Lynden has a new garden center, replacing the sales office and old greenhouses, some of which dated back 75 years. Manager David Vos said he didn't add much space to the nursery, but combining four buildings into one has improved the design and made it more user-friendly.

"This (new facility) is much better for both the plants and people," Vos said.

The biggest improvement, he said, is the ventilation system, which allows the business to better control how much heat escapes.

The next three months will be the busiest for the local plant nurseries, but already several of them are noticing interesting trends. Fruit plants and trees are popular, whether it's replacing damaged ones or starting new.

Also, more people who live in condominiums or have a small yard are visiting, looking for those small things to care for, Henshaw said. Agave and other succulent plants have been popular, she said.

NEW BIKE SHOP COMING TO FERNDALE

Loren and Erica McWilliams are opening a new bike shop. Lenny's Bike Shop will have a grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 26. The new shop is at 5778 2nd Ave., Suite 101, in Ferndale.

The new store will have new and used bikes, gears and parts as well as offer repair services. The store will be a dealer for a variety of bike brands, including SE Bikes, Breezer, Redline and Sunday Bikes. The store also plans on selling striders (bikes with no pedals for children working on their balance).

Erica McWilliams said they wanted to get open to serve the Ferndale community. For the past four years the McWilliams have taken in free bikes, fixed them up, and donated them to people in need. Loren and his 4-year-old son, Camden, also are active in BMX track racing.

For more information about the business, visit the store's Facebook page or call 360-594-2792.

OTHER TIDBITS

- Ragfinery, a business that recycles and repurposes used clothes, will have a grand opening ceremony 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 3. Textile designers and crafters will work with trainees to create a variety of products. The 4,000-square-foot facility at 1421 N. Forest St. in Bellingham also will host workshops and classes. During the grand opening event, a silent auction will be held for some of the repurposed textile works by local artists. Ragfinery is the second "jobs from waste" project of ReUse Works, which also operates Appliance Depot.

- According to a Facebook post from owner Sharon Quast, Etta's Attic is moving from Bellingham to 2009 Main St. in Ferndale. The new space will be significantly bigger (3,500 square feet) and the name of the business will change to Etta's Attic Antique Mall. An opening date hasn't been announced.

- Carnelian Agency, which provides musicians and small businesses with a variety of services including CD/DVD duplication, recently moved to 1230 Bay St. in Bellingham.

- Otion: The Soap Bar, will debut its crafter's corner on Thursday, May 8. The crafter's corner will give people the opportunity to walk in and handcraft their own soap, lip balm, bath bombs and nail polish, said store manager Karly Batterman. The four stations will have a teacher nearby to offer assistance. Otion is at 301 W. Holly St. in Bellingham. For details, call 360-676-1030.

David Vos' title was corrected March 31, 2014.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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