I feel like I lost an old friend last Thursday. I hadn't planned to go to the auction at the old Kenai River Nursery , I didn't want to buy anything, but at the last minute I decided I had to go to say goodbye.
For many, many years it was a Mother's Day tradition for my husband to take me there to pick out all the flowers and garden plants for the summer -- that was my Mother's Day gift from him.
Now, he's gone, and my old friend is gone, too.
How sad it was to walk through the empty grounds and greenhouses that used to hold such wonderful growing things. After a long, cold winter, seeing and smelling them was always such a treat.
No more tables covered with blooming geraniums in all their bright colors. No more young tomato plants in all their different varieties, no more hanging baskets with blooming strawberries.
Every year I would marvel at the sturdy grapevines that were not for sale -- just for admiring, and that huge potted cactus that never seemed to change. Gone are the cheerful birds that were behind the counter, their cages now stacked there, empty, for sale. I hoped they all had found new homes.
As I walked through the empty greenhouses so many memories came back. There was where I bought that beautiful rose bush for my husband's birthday, this was where that beautiful iris waited for me, that still blooms every spring. I picked out my first rhubarb plant here, which has been divided and shared with many others over the years, and the lilac that still grows by the corner of the house sat right there before I took it home.
There were the tables of petunias, hundreds to choose from, and there -- the cabbages, broccoli and other vegetables for the garden. Those beautiful hanging baskets filled with lobelia were hanging everywhere, and I always left with more that I planned to buy.
Now there was no life in the nursery, just dusty, empty tables and rows of Christmas trees that were never sold -- still bound up and brown. Dead trees and shrubs. Fireweed already coming up from the floor and torn plastic waving goodbye. How sad.
I heard many people asking the question I had, too: "Why did they close? What happened to the owners? Did someone die? Why didn't someone else keep it going? What happened to all the plants?" Maybe someday, someone will let all of us old customers know what happened to this wonderful place.
There are many other nurseries around the peninsula, and I will shop at all of them, but I will miss this place so much. Every time I drive past my car will want to turn in and I will want to walk in the greenhouses again, picking out the summer's stock and finding treasures for growing.
My tears water the bare parking lot as I drive away for the last time. Goodbye my old friend.
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