After two months of preparing for the 2011 growing season, Country Corner Greenhouse and Nursery in Shepherdsville opened its doors last Monday. Never known to let grass grow under their feet, the owners are busy making plans for a customer-appreciation weekend on April 30 and May 1 to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
“Jeneen Wiche will do a free container-gardening workshop that Saturday, and we’ll be having a 20-percent-off sale,” said office manager Ann Vowels. “There will be refreshments and door prizes. At last year’s Spring Fling, we cooked 700 hotdogs, and I bet we’ll beat that this year.”
Ann’s parents, Ted Vowels Sr. and his wife, Carlene, lived in Jefferson County until 1981, the year they bought the site. At the time, it was a tobacco field.
“We believed the property had potential,” Ted Vowels Sr. said. “Back then, I was working for another operation, but we decided to strike out on our own. The business was small to start with, but it really has grown.”
Today, the elder Vowelses work alongside two of their four adult children, Ted Jr. and Ann, and a full-time staff of six. As their current season unfolds, the 12 greenhouses are brimming with newly-planted flowers and shrubs. They supply plants not only to retail customers, but also to landscapers, other nurseries and stores such as Paul’s Fruit Market.
This year’s ready-to-show-off products include Black Velvet petunias from Chicago-based Ball Seed Co. Ideal for pairing with white, blue or other colorful blossoms, these sultry flowers made special appearances at last year’s trade shows. Ball asked the greenhouse to provide mature specimens for a show in Louisville, and “they really did well,” Ted Sr. recalled.
The family’s association with that seed company soon sprouted into opportunities for publicity that they had never dreamed of. Urban gardener William Moss (whom Ted Sr. described as “the Fred Wiche of Chicago”) had noticed the high quality of the Vowelses’ plants at that Louisville trade show. For his Feb. 12 guest appearance on the CBS “Early Show,” he decided to feature several of their plants as unusual gifts for Valentine’s Day.
“We were thrilled that he wanted to show some trailing pansies and our “˜edible salad bowl,’ which has lettuces, mustard and other delicious plants growing in a single container,” Ann said. “I drove them to New York City and delivered them to the CBS television studio. I also helped decorate the set; and during the segment, I was behind the cameraman. It was a small studio and not as glamorous as you might think, but it was pretty cool being on the scene.”
“We’re hoping to do more television segments,” Ted Jr. said. “In fact, there are a lot of things we’d like to do – it’s just a matter of getting them started and getting our name out there. A lot of people even in Louisville don’t realize the gem we have out here.”
Country Corner Greenhouse and Nursery Inc. is located at 4877 Highway 44 East in Shepherdsville. It is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5. For information, visit www.countrycornergreenhouse.com or call (502) 955-8635.
photos by MARY ALAN WOODWARD | contributing photographer
Category: Business Profile