by Ellen Wren
Urban gardening is an ever-growing trend, one that owners John and Theresa Dreaney have capitalized on at Bremerton City Nursery. Located in within city limits of Bremerton, WA on less than an acre of land, the nursery has been operating continuously since 1955.
While in high school, John worked at the previously named Berger’s Garden Center. The Dreaneys bought the business from his former boss in 1995. They also began a landscaping and construction business that they still run today.
Theresa reflects on those early years,“ One of our biggest frustrations was trying to be all things nursery to all people.” Once they were able to transition towards catering to the specific needs of city-dwellers, they found their niche. Theresa says, “We now strive to help our neighbors garden within their homesteads.”
The National Gardening Association reports that across the board, food gardening in the United States is at the highest level in more than a decade. Their study was completed in 2013. In 2008, 36 million households grew food. As of 2013, that number has grown 17 percent, to 42 million households. One in three households are growing food. This incredible growth spurt can be attributed to the ever growing local food movement, which is particularly popular among young adults ages 18 to 34.
Edible gardening done by urbanites increased 29 percent, from 7 million to 9 million households. Bremerton City Nursery capitalizes on this trend. Manager Alex Siefert explains that edible gardening is very popular among all their customers, from younger people just starting out to seasoned gardeners. She explains, “People are interested in going beyond seasonal veggies. They’re planting mini food forests.”
Most of the Dreaneys’ customers have small spaces in which to plant their garden. Homes are close together in Bremerton and customers want to make the most of their small yards. Some rent their homes and want mobile gardens that can come along with them when they move. To accommodate their requirements, Bremerton City Nursery carries dwarf varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials that work well within limited space. In spring they carry many organic herbs, vegetables and fruits that can be grown in raised beds or containers. “It’s exciting to help families plan a garden they will enjoy for years to come”, says Siefert.
The nursery offers planting events periodically, year round. People bring empty containers and are assisted in finding an arrangement that meets there needs. The planting is done right on the spot. This is a great opportunity to educate and engage new customers. Custom planting services are available all year long, as well.
The nursery has increased their offerings over the past several years. They take advantage of seasonal lulls by scheduling classes, seminars and events during the fall and holiday season. Recently they have offered classes involving attracting birds to your garden, mason bees and composting, among many others. Next month they’ll be offering a terrarium workshop. Siefert teaches most of these classes and reports that they are well attended an appreciated by customers.
The Coffee Spigot, a coffee shop within the Bremerton City Nursery is a destination of its own. Customers can relax on the deck among the plants, or enjoy a smoothie or hot drink while browsing the nursery. The Dreaneys find that having a dedicated food and drink area is convenient while holding events. The nursery also houses a full service gift shop that carries indoor plants and a wide range of gardening-related products.
Both Theresa and Alex agree that their strength as a team lies in their ability to think creatively and brainstorm innovative new ideas. With combined backgrounds in horticulture, design, fine arts and environmental science, they have a lot of experience to draw from.
Besides their impressive schedule of workshops, Bremerton City Nursery sets themselves apart with unique features such as their rooftop plant displays and “Potstickers”. Potstickers — small pots mounted on rods of four different lengths — were designed by John Dreaney, in an effort to add height to containers. Adding several to a container creates a beautiful, unique look. It is also a space saver, allowing gardeners to plant vertically. The Potstickers can also be used in landscaping, like between rocks or near entranceways.
The Garden Club is a feature that encourages customer loyalty. Members receive weekly email updates about the goings-on at the nursery. After spending $250 at any the nursery, coffee shop, or gift shop, they earn a $10 gift card.
The holiday season is eventful at the Dreaneys nursery. They sell wreaths and greens, live potted Christmas trees, and other seasonal décor. The Coffee Spigot’s menu is a bit more festive, including refreshments like Butter Rum frappes and spiced hot chocolate. Hands on events include making a succulent wreath and decorating a fresh wreath with embellishments such as bows, bells and berries.
The biggest event is their annual Holiday Social. They go all out with décor, lights, food and drink and stay open late. As a thank you to their loyal shoppers, Garden Club members are invited to come celebrate the season by eating, drinking, shopping and socializing with John, Theresa and Alex.
Nursery finds a niche in urban gardening
by Ellen Wren