OAKHURST – Owners of Western Sierra Nursery Robyn and Mark Holland performed an unexpected task on Monday, Jan. 7.
They removed the FOR SALE sign that’s been hanging outside for months and now plan to continue in business for the foreseeable future.
The nursery had been up for sale, and wasn’t moving in this market. Instead of packing up, the Oakhurst couple is busy making plans to bring in new plants, gifts and merchandise, attend a pair of upcoming trade shows, and operate full steam ahead. This isn’t the first time they’ve forged ahead.
Robyn and Mark have been together “a long time,” they both laughingly agree, and in business as a nursery since about 1986. They moved to their current location in 1998.
Mark is originally from Tulare, where his father once had a grocery store. Little Mark spent hours behind the shop counter with his dad in those days. Later, when he settled in Oakhurst, a grownup Mark owned Western Auto.
Gradually that store morphed into more of a nursery, in great part because of Robyn’s influence, once they met. Her father had a horticultural degree from Cal Poly, and Robyn was “born and raised” in and around greenhouses.
Now that the decision has been made to keep the nursery, which they originally opened because, “the town needed a nursery,” the Hollands have jumped back in with gusto.
“2013 was a good year, one of the best,” says Mark, a former carpenter. “It was pleasurable. The nursery was for sale and it was not selling. So we’ve decided to work as long as we can.”
The building is being gussied up with new paint and awnings, and even as improvements are made, bargains are available. Garden decor buyers may want to take note: all concrete fountains are 50% off, in order to thin out the inventory and make way for new goods.
“It’s a hard business,” Mark comments from his perch in the front garden of Western Sierra, where he sits in the warm winter sun, a happy cat named Jack on his lap.
“It takes a lot of physical and mental work, you know?” Fortunately, the Hollands have an outstanding rotating staff of regular part-time employees and one full-timer, many of whom have been around the nursery for over a dozen years.
“We’re open, and nothing is changing, except we’re going to be bigger, better and all new,” confirms Robyn enthusiastically. As most of their customers know, the Hollands are fun and easy to talk to, so the conversation quickly switches to the joys of living on a beach in Thailand or India, and then circles back around to the nursery.
Robyn follows the Farmers’ Almanac, and posted recently on their Facebook page that its predictions weren’t coming true, more or less. Rain-wise, the Almanac has predicted more; we have gotten less.
Despite natural and real concerns about the regional water table and snowpack, the fact remains: it’s still really nice outside. What to do?
For one thing, Robyn advises, it’s not too late to plant bulbs if you have them. Western Sierra suggests gardeners use mulch during the cold months, although soil amendment is one of their biggest selling products, due to the clay-heavy soil here in the mountains.
Robyn says this is the time of year to pay attention to your fruit trees, among other things. She swears by a “0-10-10” fertilizer to stimulate budding and blooming, saying it’s useful from now until March.
“That fertilizer mix will give you abundant buds which lead to abundant blooms,” says the expert, “and then, in April, you up the nitrogen in the fertilizer and that kicks everything into gear for great blooms.”
The Hollands look forward to another year of good business and also steadily supporting the Eastern Madera County SPCA. Every December, Mark cooks chili, serves it for free and gives any donations away for the sake of our furry friends.
His annual free-chili extravaganza went on for 30 days this past December, and raised over $800 for the nonprofit animal association.
The EMC SPCA’s spring event, “Whine and Noses,” raised over $4,500 in one evening last year. They are looking forward to both events again in 2014.
With incomparable knowledge and service, and a tremendous commitment to the community they’ve served for 28 years, it’s good to know the team of Holland and Holland will be around awhile more.
They’re always willing to help out the many green thumbs in our neighborhood, and even those of us who know not what we’re doing.