Garden Talk: Flower Farm Nursery blooms with plants and a whole lot more

By: Jane Rounsaville
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Sometimes a dream starts as a tiny seed that takes root, and blossoms into something beautiful. For Sheri Fischer and her sister, Patti Foust, their dream was to own a nursery. Fischer’s husband, who had just retired, was less than thrilled with his wife’s plans. “He was hoping to have some retirement time, but this has just been a passion for along time, and my sister and I talked about opening a nursery for ever and ever,” she said recently. “This was sort of handed to us by our friend, so we seized the opportunity.” Now in its third season, the nursery includes a gift shop and coffeehouse. The gift shop’s biggest seller is a Soji solar lantern, Fischer said. “We also kind of pride ourselves on unusual items,” she said. “We have local artists who do a lot of jewelry, pictures, and pottery.” Armed with a degree in Landscape Architecture from UC Davis, Fischer incorporates as much organic and sustainable agriculture as possible into the nursery. A lot of the fresh flowers and produce comes from two small farms in Lincoln. There’s even use a solar-powered produce cart designed and built by one of their growers. Pathways curve throughout the nursery, lined with low-set planters to help buyers visualize what the plants will look like in their gardens at home. The nursery’s hybrid and heirloom tomatoes are big sellers, as are black-eyed susans, sunflowers and zinnias. Fischer said her personal favorite plant right now is probably the tropical-looking disco bell hibiscus. “We offer perennial shrubs and trees that do well in our area,” Fischer said. “A lot of California natives is what we sort of specialize in. This was originally a California native nursery, so we try to carry on that tradition.” One of those native plants, a flower called Sweet Dreams Coreopsis, was originally discovered at the Flower Farm Nursery. “I noticed that there was one stem that was a little different than the rest of them,’ said the nursery’s former owner, Mark Leonard, who made the discovery. “I just did not know what it was. I started asking people, and eventually no one seemed to know, so I said, ‘well, maybe it is something new.’ I tried to contact these huge nurseries, and they took a look at it. They said, ‘yeah it is something totally new,’ and then I got it patented.” The nursery is situated on a small portion of the 10.2-acre parcel it shares with the Flower Farm Inn Bed & Breakfast. “We are all one piece of property here,” the B&B’s innkeeper Sheila Chilton said. “So it flows back and forth — that is what we do. When we need fresh flowers, we will go down and see what flowers are blooming. Whatever produce they have down there, we can incorporate it into our breakfast, or if we are doing a luncheon or something, we will use that. It could be everything from tomatoes, squash, fresh basil, potatoes, to whatever they have.” Chilton sees it as an ideal place to visit and spend some time. “The nursery is just a wonderful, magical place,” she said, “There is really a lot of people who make a regular habit of coming in the morning — having a cup of coffee, sitting on the deck, strolling through the nursery, seeing what is blooming, and talking with Sheri and Patti.”