Archive for Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Gardener’s hobby a blooming business

September 15, 1999

This summer, a new greenhouse cropped up in southern Leavenworth County.
Just off of Tonganoxie Road, about a mile northeast of town, a roadside sign marks Lost Corner Farm. That's where Cindy (Thornton) Murry, a lifelong Tonganoxie resident, has turned a love of gardening into a growing business.

Although Murry's business took root two years ago when her husband, Tom, gave her a greenhouse for Christmas, she already knew more about gardening than most people ever learn.

"I'm obsessed with gardening," she said. "I read everything I can find about it."

Before she opened Lost Corner Farm, Murry had completed an extension course and been certified as a master gardener.

At the driveway to the rural land where the Murrys and their son Heath, 19, have lived for 10 years, visitors are greeted by a winding road. Around the bend, visitors find a round-roofed greenhouse, an antique farm wagon chock full of potted perennials, bales of straw decorated with shocks of corn, and rows of other plants neatly organized and ready for sale.

A weathered picket fence separates the planting area from woods, where walnut trees lead to a nearby creek. Wild sunflowers bend toward the fence as if to ask Murry to take them in. A garden spider spins a web between the fence and butterfly bushes that are for sale. Murry leaves it alone. "Everything has a place in nature," she said.

Even the most casual observer might notice that there seems to be a nurturing element to everything Murry does. To a visitor who shivers on a cool September morning, she lends her sweater. To the potted daisies that need tending, she meticulously picks off all the dying blooms.

There is not a weed in sight, at least not along the side of the fence where she lives and works.

Her first summer in business was a good one. She opened her shop in May. The best part: the people.

"I've lived here my whole life and there are so many people I didn't know that I met here," she said.

The shop was closed during July and August, but opened again in September so customers could get perennials to plant in the fall. Now is a good time to plant perennials, she said. It gives the plants time to settle in before summer.

Murry said that next year she would like to sell more shade-loving plants. When she told Continued from page 8A
her husband they'd need to be in a shady area, such as under the trees nearby, he volunteered to build a bridge over the creek so customers could walk over there.

Also, Murry said she plans to branch out next year with more vegetable plants, including old-fashioned varieties, as well as the hardy perennials and herbs that have been popular this year with customers.
Starla Jones, one of Murry's customers, said she shopped at Lost Corner Farms in the spring.

"She has a lot of pretty flowers and I had to come home with quite a few of them," Jones said. "They've done wonderful here in my yard, so they're good quality."

Jones said she knew who Murry was before she visited the greenhouse.
"She'd been an exhibitor at the county fair here and I exhibit at the fair," Jones said.

They had even competed in the same gardening competitions. Jones laughed and said, "We'd always run into each other in certain categories and she'd always win."

When Murry isn't tending to her gardens and family, she works as a clerk at the Eudora post office. But there's nothing more relaxing than her new-found business.

"Oh my, I like everything about it," Murry said, speaking in her gentle hush of a voice. "I like visiting with the people, helping them out with their plants, and planting and taking care of the plants I have here nurturing them I like all of it. It's all fun. This is the good life."

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