March 14, 1998 in Washington Voices

Valley Greenhouse Blossoms From Seeds Of Friendship

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Next-door neighbors Ed and Dee Peck and Dotti and Fred Gurney have lives that have intertwined like, well, a growing ivy.

The two couples met almost 25 years ago when they lived next door to each other in Millwood, where Dee and Dotti became gardening buddies.

But the four were busy with their full-time jobs and spent little more than their occasional barbecue or chats in the yard. They borrowed wheelbarrows and potting soil.

Now, after the Pecks moved to Seattle for nine years and the Gurneys moved to Oregon, they’re neighbors again.

The Gurneys moved back to the Valley from western Oregon in 1993. A year later, the Pecks came back, looking for a place to call home again.

Knowing the property directly behind their home was for sale, the Gurneys gave the Pecks a call. The Pecks jumped at the opportunity and now the two semiretired couples followed up on Dee and Dotti’s dream of opening up their own greenhouse businesses.

At the end of Park Road near the base of the Dishman Hills Natural Area, the six greenhouses sit back in what used to be horse pastures.

The Gurneys opened Over the Hill greenhouse, which specializes in hanging baskets and geraniums.

The Pecks opened Secret Garden and Greenhouse, which specializes in perennials. They share no profits, but share everything else from clientele to manpower.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” says Dee, 59, who grows mostly petunias and has about 10,000 plants in three greenhouses. “She grows one thing and I grow another. That gives customers a bigger selection.”

Dotti, 53, also has about 10,000 plants between her geraniums, hanging baskets and bedding plants. “She’s the geranium queen,” Dee says.

Their business is only word of mouth. They don’t advertise and are sold out by mid July. One of Dotti’s greenhouses already has half of her geraniums reserved.

Dotti says it’s because they take the time and care to let flowers grow bigger and wider rather than stacking them up right next to each.

Dee agrees. “I have not hardly met a plant I don’t like,” she said.

Ed, 59, and Fred, 53, liken themselves to Tim and Al on the television sitcom “Home Improvement.” They say they’re the fix-it guys and the helpers.

Together, they built some of the greenhouses.

“This is all Dotti’s. The business is in her name. I just help. I’m the assistant,” says Fred. “There’s always something to do.” Like running to the hardware store or assembling the greenhouses.

They say they’re not aiming to be a gardening superstore.

They’re just doing something they’ve always loved with friends who help them grow.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo


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