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Cultivating customers and plants

K's Nursery in Colton is keeping up with competition.


by: CORY MIMMS - Kathy and Ken Carroll, who run K's Nursery in Colton, Ore.The time for planting is soon upon Oregon and with it comes the busy season for local nurseries, like K’s Nursery in Colton, the owners of which have 21 years of experience in the plant business.

Ken and Kathy Carroll first opened K’s Nursery in 1993, and as their 21st summer approaches, they’re “just trying to get through it,” Kathy said laughing. “And make sure everyone’s happy when we get to the other side.”

Kathy’s gardening and business philosophies help with that. “I don’t really sell stuff to people that doesn’t grow here, that won’t winter over here,” Kathy said. “Unless they know specifically that’s the case.”

Kathy particularly likes perennials. “I’m always looking for something different that’s hardy,” she said. “It’s fun to grow different things from seed and cuttings. I enjoy that part of it—that challenge.”

For newcomers, Kathy offers two simple pieces of advice. First, “amend and amend and amend,” she said. “[Gardening is] an ongoing process.” Once you realize that a garden is ever changing, then the second biggest thing to remember is fertilizing and watering, Kathy said.

The nursery sits on about four acres of land, which Kathy’s parents purchased in 1940. Both Kathy and Ken grew up in Colton and their families have been in the area for more than 100 years.

Kathy tries to keep up with the latest gardening trends. She said many of her sales are local, but some of her plants are sold wholesale in Portland and other markets.

“We have everything,” Kathy said. “There are always trends, just like anything else.”

In more than two decades, Kathy said she’s learned a lot of lessons about plants and people. “I’ve learned that people are very loyal,” Kathy said. “We have a lot of loyal customers that won’t go anywhere else.”

That loyalty takes cultivation though. As people come onto the property, Kathy greets them and helps people pick plants. Though K’s Nursery doesn’t have much nearby competition, Kathy still worries about losing business to larger box stores, she said.

Keeping up with competition is tough, but K’s Nursery is managing and continuing to expand. They started with one greenhouse and are now up to nine, all of which Ken built, and they carry flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, berry plants, shade trees, shrubs, vines and more.

Ken said he’d like to build another greenhouse as well, as their inventory keeps growing. “[Kathy] keeps planting more and more stuff, with no place to put it,” he said, Kathy laughing next to him.

Location: 30891 Oswalt Road, Colton.

Hours: Open early March through July and September through October. Monday through Saturday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.



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