REEDS, Mo. — Chances are acceptable that abounding of the peonies, daylilies and iris in floral bouquets and advanced yards bank to bank got their alpha at the Gilbert H. Wild and Son nursery, a Jasper County business whose roots go aback 130 years.
“The adventure goes that a German immigrant on his way west to California got this far and his wagon bankrupt down. He admired the Ozarks, and he founded the Sarcoxie Nursery,” said Greg Jones, who today owns an adjunct of that nursery, which purports to be the better agent of peonies in the world.
That German immigrant, James Hermann Wild, had a son, Gilbert, who in 1885 paid $45 for a crate of peonies from Europe that launched the business.
Peonies address porous, apart clay that doesn’t authority water. The Wild acreage was altogether ill-fitted for them. Gilbert buried some by the ancestors home in hopes he could advertise them as cut flowers. He did, but anon gardeners capital bald basis plants, and the business bloomed.
By the backward 1950s, it had developed into a assembly nursery that was agriculture added than 1 actor peonies a year. They were transported aboriginal to Sarcoxie, again were loaded on abuse for Chicago. As the years passed, the ancestors added daylilies and iris to its repertoire.
Today, the nursery on Missouri Highway 37 aloof south of Reeds grows added than 1,800 varieties of daylilies, 120 varieties of iris, and added than 600 varieties of peonies. Some of the flowers are already blooming, assuming off their Mother’s Day best, but in addition ages or so — about mid-June — Jones said he will accept 60 acreage of daylilies blooming at once. He said bodies are acceptable to drive by and look, but the business has no retail presence, so don’t apprehend to buy any.
Today the mail-order nursery sells an estimated 400,000 flowers via its catalog, and addition 300,000 to 400,000 flowers wholesale.
“We say we’re the better agriculturalist in the world,” Jones said. “No one’s refuted us yet.”
Jones bought the nursery for $110,000 in 1991 from Wild’s descendants.
Jones, whose agronomical acquaintance includes the Michigan Bulb Co., Gurney’s and White Flower Farm, avant-garde the company.
“The fundamentals are the same, but the business has changed,” said Jones, now 60. “When I got here, they didn’t yet accept a fax machine, and they typed the commitment account by hand. There was no technology, no acclaim cards accustomed and no 800 number.”
Every adjustment still is duke dug, Jones said, so it’s fresh.
“We’re different in that aspect,” he added.
The company’s aboriginal mail adjustment was in 1929, aback its archive consisted of six pages and appropriate postage of aloof 2 cents.
This year, the nursery will mail five, full-color catalogs of added than 50 pages to a commitment account alignment from 30,000 to 125,000, depending on customers’ accomplished purchases. It additionally will accelerate three emails a anniversary to 60,000 subscribers, and acclaim specials via Facebook and Twitter.
“It’s a nice business for a little town,” Jones said of Reeds, which has beneath than 100 residents.
He concedes the ancient plants accept remained accepted because of their cornball address — they are “grandmother’s plants.” But believability is what keeps barter advancing aback for more.
“I’ll see peonies in the cemetery that never get affliction that accept been growing for 50 years and attending spectacular,” Jones said. “When you put one in the ground, you apperceive it will consistently be there, will consistently bloom.”
He says he’s not abiding how abundant best he’ll accumulate the company, which employs two appointment agents and about 22 in mostly alfresco and packing jobs during the season.
“I don’t apperceive if I’m accessible to advertise it yet,” he said. “It’s article I’m angry with. I like accepting up and advancing to work. Especially this time of year. That’s aback it’s the actual best.”
His three accouchement grew up allowance in the business, but all pursued added careers. “I anticipate they saw how adamantine I worked,” Jones said as he laughed. “I get actuality at 4:30 a.m. and leave at 4:30 p.m. during the season.”
It’s not a continued commute, admitting — he walks over from his home aing aperture — and he consistently is accompanied by Willie, his aureate retriever. And he loves it.
“It’s absolutely a abundant lifestyle,” he said. “And aback I sit out on my deck, I get to attending at 240 acreage of blooms.”
To get a archetype of the Gilbert H. Wild and Son catalog, or to adjustment online, go to www.gilberthwild.com.
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