My Dear Friend Ken Johnson…

I apologize for not getting a newsletter out last week. I was at the MANTS trade show in Baltimore. The good news is that I was able to visit in person with many of you who get the newsletter. Trade shows are a great opportunity to meet customers and colleagues in the industry, and as you know, no one does trade shows as well as Little Prince! I’m super-excited as I look forward to our booth at Cultivate2020 in Columbus, Ohio this July, and of course our beloved Farwest Show in Portland in August. We will not disappoint you. I’m also looking forward to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show February 26th-March 1st at the Washington Convention Center in downtown Seattle. We will design and build a crevice garden at the show that will be spectacular. Put these events in your calendar and be sure to stop by and say hi!

While I was at MANTS, I learned of the death of a dear friend of mine, Dr. Ken Johnson from Corvallis, Oregon. I attended his celebration of life service last night at the OSU Alumni Center in Corvallis. Ken was the kindest man I’ve ever known. I enjoyed spending some quality time with him over the last few months sharing glasses of wine, hanging out in his wood shop, and just being with a man whose grace and love seemed to have no bounds. Ken and his wife Dot have been major boosters of both Oregon State Beavers Men’s and Women’s Basketball. They also started the Johnson Children’s Dental Clinic at the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis and provided free dental care for thousands of children in the community. Recently, the Johnson Teen Center opened to provide many support programs for teenagers in Corvallis. I’ve been honored over the years to be Ken’s “Plant Guy”. Our friendship began over plants when He came to visit me at Fry Road Nursery some 20 years ago to buy plants for his landscape. I grew literally thousands of poinsettias for him over the years and he passed them out to friends in the community. Ken was not short of friends, and everyone who knew him adored him. In his shop, a sign hangs on the wall with this motto that Ken lived by. “Life is short, and we have not too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Oh, be swift to love. Make haste to be kind”. Last spring, I help Ken and Dot plan a new perennial garden off their back patio that was filled with Little Prince plants that gave them great joy. I will miss Ken tremendously, but his kind and loving nature has been passed on to me by his example and I won’t ever forget him.

Speaking of Little Prince plants, everything is growing nicely at the nursery, having dodged a snowstorm this week in the Willamette Valley. Our inventory is up this year over the same time period in 2019. That’s great news for everyone. I mentioned in the last newsletter that we have some great new plants coming in 2020. At MANTS, I ordered some plugs of Primula acaulis ‘Blue Zebra’. This is such a gorgeous plant, and we’ll have limited quantities. Order them soon to have any hope of getting them. We’ve already had a lot of interest on social media for this plant. They will not be on the availability yet, as they have not even been planted yet. Let Bob or Ryan know you want some, and we’ll get an order started for you. Look for them to be retail ready sometime around April 1st. According to Lloyd Traven at Peace Tree Farm, “Primula ‘Blue Zebra’ is an absolute showstopper in the Early Spring program! A favorite at the Philadelphia Flower Show, gardeners have gone gaga for this uniquely colored primrose.” Remember the old tv commercial from E.F Hutton? This is like that. “When Lloyd Traven speaks, people listen.”

Over the next few months, I’ll be introducing you to a wide variety of new and cool plants from Little Prince. Trust me when I tell you that you will not be able to say no to them. Perennials, houseplants, ferns, and more. You’ll be thrilled! Until next week, take to heart these words from my friend Ken. “Be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”

 Cheers,

Mark

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