Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery Celebrates 30 Years

425I’m going to share a secret with you. When we bought Four Seasons, I thought Vic was nuts. It was a big step for us, to have sold our company in Pennsylvania, sold our home, pack up and moved 2,000 miles away to a place where we didn’t know a soul.

30 Years Of Stories…

The ground had been prepared and they were ready to build. They took delivery of 5 greenhouse parts on April 1, 1983. Four Seasons began as the dream of Joy and Larry Keeling that year.

The first season they went to Denver to purchase plants from a grower there. Joy says, “We really didn’t think people would drive this far out to buy bedding plants, so we concentrated on raising potted plants mostly for florists.” And as with all businesses, those early years brought challenges and opportunities. She continued, “We used our box van to go to the border of Mexico and haul back pottery. The supplier brought the pottery over the border for us so he could get paid in US currency and we didn’t have to take our truck into Mexico.”

By the fall of 1983, the business was growing and they installed 4 ground to ground houses. By 1984, their partner had bowed out and they were running the nursery on their own. She continues, “I remember potting bare root roses on the floor of House 1. In 1984, I think, we put in the Biotherm (bottom tube heating system in the greenhouses) and bought the emergency generator that had been used in Stapleton Airport. Larry and I spent many nights up at the greenhouse making sure the Biotherm didn’t spring a leak. We’d get a pizza and stretch out on the beds to rest. If it got too warm, I’d say, ‘Hey, can you turn the (temperature of the) beds down?”

“We sold trees and shrubs from the very beginning. After the greenhouses were up and running, Larry took care of the nursery and I took care of the greenhouses,” she said. “We always grew and sold for the wholesale trade. We delivered to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and several cities in Arizona. We’d usually load the truck after business hours and leave early the next morning so we could make it back in one day.”

In 1989 the garden center was built and the stories kept on coming. One thing that many people don’t realize that the plastic tops on the greenhouses have to be changed every so many years. Joy recalls, “We were re-roofing 6 and Larry was running, yes running along the gutter. He tripped and fell. Luckily we had been growing plugs back there and had a plastic tent to prevent drips over the bench. He fell through the tent and onto the bench. It could have been worse than it was.”

One of the funniest stories Joy tells is when, back in the day when they were still available, they bought in a load of whiskey barrels. They had ordered whole barrels along with the half barrels. “The driver that delivered them told Larry to get several gallons of distilled water, put it in the barrel and rotate it once a day for 6 days. He was specific- it should be 4 days on the side and one day on each end. At the end of 6 days we had a liquid that would support a flame. It was really smooth!”

In 1998, Four Seasons passed to us and a new chapter began. I have crazy memories of those first few months here. Many of my best stories seem to center around the holidays. Perhaps that’s because I’m too busy in the spring to remember any of those!

The first year we were here was the first time we had live reindeer for the holidays. What most people don’t know are several stories about them. That first year we had a yearling reindeer who we nicknamed “Dancer.” She was so tame that we could put her on a dog leash and lead her through the greenhouses. I had a hard time parting with her when it was time for her to leave and we still talk about her each year around the holidays.

Another was on Christmas Eve. Christopher had just turned five years old and still very much believed in Santa. Well, we were on our way to church on Christmas Eve and the reindeer were all bedded down for the evening. When we came home, they were up and pawing at the rails on their pen. I told Christopher, “Look, they’re waiting for Santa to come and get them so they can get started, but that can’t happen until you’re in bed.” That was the quickest bath I think I ever saw him take!

The most frequent question we got about them was, “Where do they come from?” Being a mom myself, I quickly learned to simply smile and say, “Why, the North Pole, of course!” One weekend we had a fellow visiting them with his son and he was determined to find out where their real home was. There were about 20 youngsters milling around and I didn’t want to spoil the magic for them, so I used my stock answer. After a while he finally said, “You really aren’t going to tell me, are you?” I smiled. “NO!”

When we moved here, I knew I’d be doing a lot of new things, but one I never expected was that I’d end up being a reindeer wrangler. The morning that they came to take the reindeer home, it had snowed about 6″ overnight and during the loading process one got loose. It was one of those mornings when the sun had just come out and the sun on the snow sparkled like diamonds. So one of my fondest Four Seasons memories is of watching that reindeer run free across the newly fallen snow out in the park by the gazebo. The funny part was that she must have been planning her escape route for a while because once she was out, she headed straight for the front gate!

Snakes have unfortunately, always been one of my greatest fears, but since being here I’ve learned to tolerate them. When you pick up flats in the back greenhouses, sometimes in the spring, one will slither out. One day I was back there with a customer looking for a certain color petunia and one was stretched out across the walkway, basking in the sun. I’ve also learned that you can’t “shoo” a snake. So instead I stepped over the snake, turned to the customer and said, “It’s so hard to keep a good tan this time of year!”

Vic has different memories. “Several years ago, one winter day we were working in the greenhouses and heard a terrible noise. Something struck the greenhouse roof but we had no idea what it was. We all hit the floor because we’d never heard anything like it before. It hit the roof of Houses 2, 3 and 4. By the next morning the roof had deflated so we went up to look and saw slashes in the roof where something had cut the plastic. Then we found large chunks of ice in the gutters. We suspect it came from the plane either coming into or flying out of Cortez.”

The faces have changed over the years. The plant selection has changed over the years. But the wonderful stories remain and isn’t that what it’s all about? We’re pleased that we’re not only carrying on the Four Seasons traditions, but have added some new ones of our own. And, after thirty years, we’re able to continue to celebrate helping the best people create their best gardens!

November 9th is the perfect time to stop by and congratulate Vic and Gail on their 30th anniversary. It’s the Open House for their Christmas Shop and the opening day for the Winter Farmer’s Market. The artists from the gallery in Mancos will be joining them for their first Artisan’s Market that day as well.

Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery are located at 26650 Road P and are open daily 9am-5pm You can visit their website at http://www.fourseasonsgreenhouse.com/

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