Nursery provides plants, tips for home and garden

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2007

The growing season never quite ends in south Alabama. Even in winter, there are shrubs and plants adding greenery and colorful blooms to the landscape.

However, springtime truly brings a remarkable beauty to the area. Take note of the flowering fruit trees, showy azaleas and other blooming beauties all around town and country.

Springtime also inspires thoughts of fresh, sweet summer berries plucked from a home garden, and vine-ripened tomatoes perfect for a BLT – or equally delicious all by themselves.

It's enough to inspire you to grab some potting soil, garden gloves and a tray of plants and get gardening!

Homegrown business

A local business that helps bring all that color and flavor home is B & B Nursery, owned by Billy and Mary Croley.

The nursery, located on Mobile

Road (Hwy 31 South) between Greenville and Chapman, has been in business for some 20 years. It draws many customers from the county and well beyond, Mary Croley says.

&#8220We have some folks here from Prattville today. There's also a family from Luverne who comes to see us every year,” the nursery owner said with a smile as she paused between assisting customers last Saturday.

She was peppered with questions along the way.

&#8220Mary, what do you have in the way of tomato plants?”

&#8220Will these do well in the shade?”

&#8220Mrs. Croley, do you have any fruit trees?”

There's not a lot the nursery doesn't carry. When asked how many varieties of plants are carried by B & B, Mary Croley just shook her head and chuckled.

&#8220Oh, goodness, I don't know. We grow a lot of things right here, and bring some other plants in. It changes from week to week, it really does.”

Walk into the B & B greenhouse and experience a regular riot of color, from the delicate hues of a Summer Magic orchid to the vivid scarlet of geraniums and sunny yellow marigolds.

&#8220We try to carry a variety of colors and types of plants to have something that will work for everyone,” Croley said.

A top seller at the nursery?

&#8220Ferns. We've probably sold 75 today alone,” Croley said, gesturing toward the large array of the airy green plants in the nursery's greenhouse.

With spring's potentially tempestuous weather, the nursery owner says potted plants such as ferns, bougainvilleas and geraniums are popular with B & B's customers right now.

&#8220You never know this time of year. If we do have a sudden cold spell, folks know they can bring those plants inside to protect them,” Croley pointed out.

Sun, shade, brown-thumb proof

What if you aren't graced with a green thumb?

&#8220There are several plants that don't require a lot of attention. Certain types of ivy are good, especially Swedish ivy. Lantana. Bougainvillea is another one; all you have to do is water it. The Kimberly fern is also a good choice; it will take both heat and cold well, which is good,” Croley said.

And if your planting space is especially sunny?

&#8220Most of our bedding plants will take a lot of sun. Vinca, marigolds, suncove - those are all good for a sunny space. Dusty Miller, you can't beat it. It will live right through the winter,” the nursery owner said.

Hibiscus is another plant that thrives in summer sunshine, but Croley cautions customers most hibiscus plants sold in this area &#8220are annuals, not perennials.”

What if you have a lot of shade?

&#8220Impatiens are wonderful. Also, any type of Langley fern, Japanese holly fern - these winter well - and split leaf philodendron. The philodendron dies off in the winter but comes right back in the spring,” Croley explained.

Begonias are another versatile plant, particularly the bronze leaf variety, she said.

&#8220These will take both sun and shade well. If you straw them in the fall, they will generally come back in the spring, too.”

Hydrangeas are another popular choice for a shady spot in your lawn and garden, Croley said.

A large variety of bedding plants, potted plants, fruit and vegetable plants, evergreen shrubs, ground cover, trees and more can be found in the greenhouses and on the grounds of this homegrown business.

&#8220We invite folks to come out and see what we have to offer. We will be glad to help any help we can,” Croley said.

The nursery is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays during March, April and May, closing at lunchtime Wednesdays and Saturdays the rest of the year.