About Grassland Gardens

Nursery & Flower Farm - Ornamental Grass Specialists, Dried Floral Arrangements, Garden Gifts

 

The Country Register - Kansas - August/September 2009

Grassland Gardens provides alternatives to traditional garden plantings.

Grassland Gardens Nursery & Flower FarmIf you think grass is just something to mow, a visit to Grassland Gardens Nursery and Flower Farm near Miltonvale in north central Kansas will give you a whole new perspective on the beauty and decorative nature of grass.

For the past 12 years, Trish Remley, owner of Grassland Gardens with her husband, Chad, has been growing ornamental grasses and flowers on the family's farm. But, her interest in ornamental grass and dried flowers started 20 years ago when the family was living in Columbia, MO. A friend was growing ornamental grasses and Trish thought they were very interesting and beautiful. At about the same time, she attended a dinner where the host had bright red Strawberry Fields Globe amaranth hanging in his kitchen that he had grown the previous summer and dried. She was amazed that the flowers had retained their color that long. She started working with dried flowers soon after that visit.

As Trish puts it, one thing led to another and when the family settled on their current farm - after moving every two to three years the first 12 years they were married - she began planting flowers, gourds and her first ornamental grass plantings. Visitors to the farm will quickly realize there is more to ornamental grasses than Pampas grass. The business offers over 60 varieties of ornamental grasses. Trish also offers for sale perennials, the majority of which are drought tolerant and attractive to butterflies; shrubs; dried floral arrangements, and gifts and garden art.

Grain Bin"Although we are a working nursery and farm, a visit to grassland Gardens is much more," Trish said.
Besides the grasses, visitors can stroll through a butterfly garden, mixed border garden, small grass garden, and many other gardens throughout the landscape, including a stone path garden next to the gift shop. Lots of ideas can be gathered through examples of what will grow in the area and how to put different plants together. All the plants in the gardens are labeled in the fall.

Ornamental grasses can add much to a garden landscape, Trish said. Grasses grown on the farm are drought tolerant, low maintenance, add movement to a garden with the slightest breeze, have year-round interest and add an additional element - besides trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals - to the landscape. Grassland Gardens is unique in that it is a working field-grown nursery.

"People can come in the fall and view the over 60 varieties of grass and actually see the plants full grown, in full bloom, and any fall color they might get. Customers can visualize how they would fit into their own landscape," Trish said.

Grass orders are taken in the fall. Grasses are dug and divided and picked up in the spring for planting in the customer's yard.

Trish says that the combination of science and art - both of which she likes - has been a large part of the inspiration behind her business.

"I like the science of growing and trialing new plants for our region, and the art involved in floral design and putting landscapes together," she said.

Pergola Fall GrassTrish has long been interested in growing plants. A native of western Massachusetts, Trish has her bachelor of science degree from the University of Massachusetts in plant and soil science. She obtained a masters of science degree from Purdue University in agronomy with an emphasis on research in soil erosion. She and her husband, Chad, who works for the Natural Resource Conservation Service as a soil scientist out of the Salina NCRS office, came to Kansas in 1996. Trish has also spent many summers in Maine and worked on a large vegetable farm in the Connecticut River Valley while a student.

"We have lived on a lot of great properties, including this one," she said. "My husband has a knack for finding beautiful landscapes. It has never been about the house for us - but the land, out buildings, etc."
Since Trish started her business, there have been a number of changes and improvements, she said. Originally flowers were dried in an old metal shed that was not winter proof and the flowers had to be moved into the basement in the winter, where she also made the arrangements. Seven years ago a combination garage, drying shed and gift shop was built and, in 2005, a 30 by 90 foot hoophouse was built. A separate shade structure was added in 2006. Trish commented that it is wonderful having the flower business all in one spot.

In addition to growing and selling plants, Trish also has added some landscape design and placement of plants. She looks at properties in the fall and designs landscaping in the winter, however, time limits her to only a few designs a year. She also does custom floral arrangements. Customers bring her containers, fabrics to match or specific colors wanted and she does a dried floral arrangement.

The business has continued to expand slowly by design, Trish said, so that she could handle the volume along with family responsibilities. The Remleys have three children, Kate, a senior at the University of Kansas; Eileen, a sophomore at KU, and James, a junior in high school.

"(All of the children) have been invaluable throughout the years, whether it was helping move pots, mowing the lawn, or running the gift shop," Trish said. "Chad has been especially helpful - I've grown this business at a rate that fit in with our family."

Grassland Gardens Nursery & Flower Farm ToursAs Trish has built her business, she has kept her mission in mind: to provide quality plant material, original floral design and unique garden art and gifts in a tranquil setting where nature can be appreciated.
Trish welcomes tours of the farm and has three major weekends each year, a spring show, usually held Mother's Day weekend, Fall Field Days in September and a Holiday Open House. The Fall Field Day will be held on Sept. 19 and 20 and will feature drawings and refreshments. Hours are Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 1-5. The Holiday Open House will be held Nov. 14 and 15 and will feature dried florals. She will also still be taking ornamental grass orders.

Grassland Gardens Nursery and Flower Farm is located at 1739 Camp Road, Miltonvale. If you are going, go three miles east of the US 81/Highway 24 junction (approximately 30 miles north of Salina or 13 miles south of Concordia). Watch for signs and turn south on 170th Rd to Camp Road and then turn east for 3/10 of a mile.

For more information about Grassland Gardens and upcoming special weekends, see its website at www.grasslandgardens.com.