Stop by the nursery for a pop, diet or regular, and sit a bit.


by Susan Harris
Nurseryman and garden writer Gene Bush sent this homey little note to the Garden Writers email group inGeneclose3 response to a question about his nursery:

We have a refrigerator in the corner of the greenhouse/office that
is filled with drinks for all kinds. Water to pop, diet and regular. In
winter we have hot tea and coffee. We always treat customers who visit like guests… they are offered drinks and can select what they like from the refrigerator. Also a bench and chairs to sit a bit outside the greenhouse doors and look down upon the plants in the display area that are for sale. Our way to say thanks for those who take the time to drive here to a small town to shop with us.

Now if that doesn’t make me want to climb in the car and drive 600 miles west, I don’t know what would.  Remember the days when sitting a bit with a cold drink and some conversation was a regular thing?  Well, neither do I but I remember my daddy’s stories and I’ve longed for that Mayberry-like world.  So Gene had me at "pop, diet or regular," and then he sent me a personal invitation with this equally compelling come-on:

I would like to mention that we are by appointment only here, so those
visits are not interrupted. I do not answer the phone while you are here.
Average visit is about 2 hours or so and you would have my undivided attention.
Walk and talk in the gardens, stop a minute or two for a drink and then walk the
display areas for your plant selections.

Then I noticed how he signs his emails – with not just his name, website and email address but this: "Zone
6/5, Southern Indiana," telling us exactly where they’re located, and every page of the website lists contact information and the location of the nursery.  So after my many rants about people who are coy about their location, I offer a spirited rave for Gene, wife JoAn and their Munchkin Nursery in small-town Indiana.

Unlike the vast majority of corporate-looking sites in the hort biz, the Munchkin site gives you a real sense for the people behind the site and the nursery.  The large collection of Articles contains just the sort of information I’d like to have before making my plant purchases and causes me to fantasize about being able to study the sites of nurseries near me before heading out to actually shop.  Nice dream, even without the pop and a nice place to sit.

And notice the sign-off at the end of the home page: "Good gardening and don’t forget to have a good time."  Gene, you are so correct that we need to be reminded to have a good time, sad to say.

This charming bio tells us that Gene started out growing vegetables and turned to growing flowering plants purely by accident – a nasty accident while mowing a steep bank on a riding tractor that tipped over and nearly fell off a cliff!  So I guess Gene decided it wasn’t worth risking his life to have the perfect American lawn on a steep bank because he replaced the lawn with what sounds like a much better-looking assortment of landscape plants. (Hey, Gene, how about a photo?)  He says he was immediately addicted to gardening and since then he’s learned a lot "by trowel and error".

TroughscloseupAND HYPERTUFA, TOO
I noticed, too, that JoAn gives workshops in making hypertufa troughs – only $35 a pop – and I say bless her heart.  Why?  Because I’ve given a few hypertufa workshops myself and my gawd, it’s a lot of work, messy work at that.  But people love-love-love it and take home something they’ll enjoy for many years.  I’ve noticed that Trey and the gang at The Golden Gecko Nursery teach hypertufa, too, so possibly it’s the sign of a really cool nursery, non?  Anyway, if you can find a workshop near you, SIGN UP.  Same goes for any workshop involving cement pavers.  They’re much easier to teach and possibly even more fun, especially for kids.



  1. We just had our latest workshop last Saturday and it was the Hyper-tufa making workshop. We had 25 people show up and everyone had fun. This next Saturday we are having our 2nd Creekside festival. We have a couple of wineries and an olive oil co. pouring samples, and live music. We do this after we close from 6 to 9pm. We’ll have a sale that night which people love, but it’s about community. We are beginning to see a new direction for the nursery. Rather than a place to buy plants we are becoming a place to have fun, meet others, learn, and buy plants. This is the direction I think most small garden centers should take, becoming a place for learning, friendship, and just plain fun. It doesn’t even have to do with gardening, like our scarecrow contest in October. We just need to get people into our stores any way we can. Once there most people purchase plants or other goodies. Even if they don’t buy today they leave happy and remember the nursery in a good light. People are so busy these days that it’s easy to just fluff off a trip the nursery, but if we are having a kids class on making stepping stones for dad on Father’s Day they come. Kids make stones, mom wonders through the nursery relaxed. We are going to evolve into a community learning and meeting center. Every town should have such a place.

  2. I think I might need to move to Indiana….none of the nurseries treat me nearly that well… (although they do give me a discount) I feel like I’m just another number – even at one particular nursery that I have given a significant amount of business to this season. The guys on the grounds know me, my account, etc. but the managers have no clue! They certainly have never given me a soda or water – even when I’ve spent hours there at a time (and a lot of my clients money!)
    I think that Trey really has the right idea, especially with a lot of nurseries suffering with loss of business to Home Depot and the like.

  3. I’m in Indiana, a great place, and am proud that this nursery is practicing such great “Hoosier hospitality”. It’s about 135 miles from my house, but sounds like it would be worth the drive and time to go there!

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