Sunnycrest Nursery and Floral owner Dale Loy tends to some colored primroses at his Key Center garden shop. Photo by Michelle M. Mondeck

 

Victory Gardens were popular during WWII when everything was scarce and rationing was enforced.

“With ever-rising food prices and today’s shrinking pocketbooks, growing your own food has made a comeback, big time,” said Dale Loy, who owns Sunnycrest Nursery and Floral along with his wife Claudia. “Growing your own food also provides a means to control our exposure to the vast number of chemicals in our food system.”

Many new gardeners, however, have never lived on a farm or developed the proverbial “green thumb,” and can find only limited guidance among the mass-produced seeds and starts at the big box stores.

Answers and quality plants can be found at the Sunnycrest, family-run store located in downtown Key Center.

“My first jobs back in junior high were weeding yards,” said Dale Loy. “I’ve always worked with plants. When Claudia and I bought the small existing nursery in 1981, it was learn or die,” Loy said.

He said he studied a complete 12 volume encyclopedia set dedicated to gardening and nurseries.

In 1983, they built their new building, which still exists and it remains a profitable business.

Sunnycrest sells everything garden related, from seeds to bulbs, shrubs, bushes and trees; from pots and planters to organic fertilizers, soils and garden tools; and from bird seed to pink flamingoes, gift items and whimsical stuff. They also arrange floral items for weddings, funerals, loved ones and the ever-important apology.

Loy loves plants and loves giving advice and tips on the best care, maintenance and use of plants. He even has eight bonsai trees that more 20 years old, and has a friend who is a noted expert on the popular subject.

According to Loy, popular plants this year include any food plant, the cross-bred dwarf hellebore from Holland, and the purple-leafed dwarf hydrangea. Sunnycrest has eight different grapes, for wine or table and can special order anything available.

Loy said there are no firm rules in gardening, as Mother Nature has given us frost as late as June 12 in Key Center.

According to Loy, more sensitive plants either need to be started indoors, preferably with artificial lighting, or else wait until after the last frost. If you wait too long, then you risk not having a food crop or flowers that year, he said. Light and shade are also very important, with requirements varying for each type of plant.

For information, visit sunnycrestnursery.com.

 

Planting guide

Plant anytime: Fruit trees, trees, shrubs, bushes and perennials. Except for bare root plants which are planted before the new delicate roots are broken.

March 1: Peas, carrots, lettuce, radishes, onion seeds, chard and berries.

March 17: Potatoes, onion sets, pansies, prim roses, hellebore, wall flowers, cone flowers, carnations and daisies.

Mid-May: Geraniums, colorful annuals.

June: Squashes, pumpkins, corn, broccoli and beans.

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