Modern Times

Our History

    Three of the newer steel Quonset greenhouse frames from Asheville were dismantled and then re-erected at the Golden Valley site. The new property was part of an old cotton farm that peaked in the 1940’s. The 1900 wooden frame dogtrot-style farmhouse received just enough remodeling to be called home. At this time, a massive eastern plant migration occurred. The great migration lasted over 6 months, with thousands of plants and all available scavenged parts being moved the 60-mile distance down the mountain. Three trucks and trailers plied the roads for countless trips up and back, while gas prices ominously rose to $1.65.

    A new nursery was built and, using the bountiful well water available on site, was quickly up and running. First two greenhouses, then three, were erected. Propagation structures were erected too, but early ones were failures due to excessive heat. Almost 8000 very important cuttings were destroyed in an early 95 degree heat wave, April 2003. A lean-to greenhouse attached to the farmhouse was more successful. In fact, with temperature controls and intermittent mist delivered by timer circuits, even the very difficult blue spruce could be rooted there. Caryopteris set the record, with roots seen within 3 days!

    Landscaping was still a good business for us in Asheville, and the clients got better and better. Dry stack rock work became 50% of the business, and the customers loved what we could do for their properties. At the farm, propagation structures evolved into simple quonsets that could do better than 85% success rates under timed mist. Plants began to be set out in the fields in 2003, with their numbers increasing steadily through the years as more land was cleared.

    Even though the thermal belt effect helps to moderate our local climate, regional weather events occur beyond our control. The double hurricane of 2004 destroyed our entry bridge and flooded our fields, reminding us that we were not in charge here. Vicious storms and weather extremes continue to be the benchmarks that mark our lives in this business, but we always rebuilt, usually better than before.

    A tremendous Easter freeze in April (2007) after a very warm spring, coupled with a drought and heat wave in the summer, caused 30% losses of our field stock. Fortunately, all that damage and more has been replaced since then. We are extremely grateful to the friends, neighbors and family that have helped us through our trials. If you are not in charge, you are also not alone in life—thank heavens for that.

    Today we have recently doubled our growing area under protection, and look forward to a bright future in propagation, in specimen plant production and in our custom landscape installation work. Our automated irrigation system sees to the needs of plants in the greenhouses and in the fields, which have increased to holding some 3500 specimens-in-training. And quality is still our by-word.

    Challenges lie ahead, for sure, but the farm seems to be a comfortable and permanent part of the Golden Valley scene. We may always be called “those crazy plant people” around these parts, but it is clear to all that we have been blessed with vast abundance from above, no matter what the weather.