Love blossoms in the home and garden
It has been said that if you have a job you love, you will never work a day in your life.
That statement fits Willard Wilson, Jr. to a tee.
Junior and his wife, Vada, love their job and put in 10 - 12 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure that it is done right.
They are the caring owners of Wilson's Greenhouse, which could more aptly be described as Wilson's oasis. The results of their long hours are positively breathtaking.
The Wilsons have found the right formula for taking seeds to full bloom.ﾠ Junior equates the required time, attention and love to raising children, and they have done that, as well.
In their 48 years of marriage they have raised four children and now have seven grandchildren.
When your kids are young and are outside playing, that's where you need to be.ﾠ You can't be in the house in front of the TV or computer, you need to be watching your kids, Wilson said.
That's the same way with plants.ﾠ I don't go in the house even 10 minutes early, because I know there is something I can be doing out here.
In response to a comment about the overall high quality of the flowers, Vada said they "get a bad flower every now and then and we have to figure out what it needs."
That response mirrors Junior's comparison of plants and children.
Junior is more than willing to share his knowledge of gardening, such as his secret to good tomatoes.ﾠ He uses a mixture of Epsom salt and bone meal.
That recipe calls for one cup Epsom salt in a coffee can of bone meal.ﾠ He recommends putting a tablespoon of that mixture in the hole before placing the tomato plant.
Another bit of advice concerns the amount of work it takes for a successful greenhouse business.
"Don't get into this for a living," Junior said.ﾠ "You'd better enjoy doing it.ﾠ Neglect means your plants go bad."
The Wilsons obviously enjoy the work which began this year on February 7.ﾠ Each plant and flower was started from a seed or plug.ﾠ The pansy house is now a plethora of color and the 138 foot long, 60 foot wide vegetable and bedding plant greenhouse is full of life in many ways.
There is always music in the air.
"They say that music is good for plants, but the music is really for me," Junior laughed.
He recently discovered that others enjoy those tunes, as well.
Junior looked up from his work one morning to find Tom and Dreama Burns, of Marlinton, "dancing to the oldies" just inside the greenhouse.
Adding to the bright atmosphere are huge fans circulating the air and 1,000,000 BTUs of propane heaters nurturing every variety of plant and flower imaginable - 46 varieties of tomatoes, 14 varieties of peppers, watermelons, strawberries, herbs and even celery.ﾠ You name it, they've got it.ﾠ For the long-term garden there is rhubarb and asparagus.
The health of the plants depends on water.ﾠ Junior waters them three to four times a day.ﾠ The plants flourish and Junior got a bonus in that he has lost 17 pounds in the process.
Although Junior's eye is always on his plants, he keeps an eye out for his neighbors, as well.
An elderly couple makes the trip from Staunton, Virginia, to get what has become a rarity -ﾠ "old-timey yellow hanover plants."
Though they are rare, the Wilsons don't try to profit from that fact.
"This is the fourth year without a raise in prices," he said.
With the economy the way it is, older folks can't afford to cut back because of price.ﾠ If they need 24 tomato plants, they shouldn't have to get by with six because of high prices, he added.
A recent article in The Recorder, the Bath and Highland County Virginia newsaper, has increased the traffic from Virginia.
On Thursday, two ladies from Staunton spent more than two hours at the greenhouse.ﾠ As they departed with their plants and flowers they said they would be back.
"The quality of the plants and the prices are better than anything we can find in Staunton," they said.
Junior was instrumental in bringing about the Marlinton Farmers Market, working with Doug Bernier and Larry Lucas.ﾠ He can be found there most Saturday mornings with his plants and shrubs, but not his vegetables.
The only thing better than good plants and prices at the greenhouseﾠ is being Wilson's neighbors.
Theyﾠ put out a big garden, which last year included 86 tomato plants, but none of that extra produce makes it to the Farmers Market.ﾠ It is, instead, given to their neighbors who can no longer tend to a garden themselves.
And what do they receive in return?
"Their smiles are enough for me," Junior said.
Given the amount of time and effort one growing season takes, you would think that the Wilsons would be relieved when it was all said and done.
But that is not the case.
They started the greenhouse business 17 years ago.
"It started small and it just gets bigger and bigger," Vada said.
And it might get bigger still.
Junior has found a new interest - low-tunnel gardening.
His vision is for folks to become self-sufficient with year-round gardening. His excitement is palatable as he talks about a low-tunnel attached to the end of the house, getting sun every day and heated by the home's source of heat.
Sitting in the midst of beautiful plants, flowers and shrubs, even a novice can see that as a possibility.
For Junior Wilson, it is more likely a probability