It’s nearly impossible to visit a greenhouse and leave in a bad mood. Being surrounded by beautiful blooms in every color, an abundance of greenery of every type and excited gardeners getting ready for the season, it’s hard not to catch some of the excitement. We are fortunate in our area to have many greenhouses to choose from in our plant selection. I had the opportunity to visit with Sheila’s Country Gardens & Gifts and Yankton Nurseries, just two of our local greenhouses.

Sheila’s Country Gardens & Gift Shop - Hartington, Nebraska



Sheila Schmidt and her husband Kenny opened Sheila’s Country Gardens & Gift Shop, located just on the South side of Hartington, twenty six years ago.


When they got married, she had it in her mind that she would like to start a greenhouse someday. She grew up around large gardens, her grandparents and her mom each had one and she always liked them. After adding five children to their family, they followed her dream and put up one greenhouse to start. Their children at the time spanned from one to eleven years old. Two years later they built a second greenhouse and a third one followed in 1998. Sheila reminisces over her career path, “I love it just as much today as I did 26 years ago.”

Experimenting with different plants, Sheila finds unique foliage and likes to mix distinctive arrangements together in her baskets.

“Everything doesn’t have to bloom to be pretty,” she explains. She tests out various plants in and around her home before selling them to see how they grow in this climate.

Sheila’s Country Gardens & Gift Shop usually opens the last week of April, weather permitting. Her typical day starts off at 6:00 AM with about three hours of hand-watering all of her plants and sweeping up any mess left behind. After assisting customers for the day, she closes up her shop and prepares for the next day, sometimes getting planters ready for the next day or if a warm or windy day, re-watering the plants again for another three hours.

Sheila starts growing her crop right after Valentine’s Day and grows her crop primarily from seeds, so she can control how many flowers of each color. Each Monday she starts off a new batch of seeds, staggering them out so she always has something growing. She does all of her work by hand and when I ask about any special tools she might use, she laughs as she pulls out a pair of blue-handled scissors. “I don’t have growth regulators, I use these instead.” Her watering hoses and scissors are used the most, and she steers away from using any chemicals on her plants. Though her greenhouses don’t have a cooling system, they are equipped with fans and vents to help cool and a furnace to help warm her crop.

Bring Sheila your planter or hanging basket, or even your seeds and she will custom plant them for you. “If I could just do one thing in the greenhouse it would be making up planters and hanging baskets. I love putting different combinations together.” She starts off her hanging baskets and planters with a healthy soil, a mat that absorbs water, slow release fertilizer and an insecticide. “There’s a lot of stuff in that hanging basket for the customer’s benefit for them to be successful that they don’t even know about,” she explains.

She enjoys helping her customers find their best fit for flowers or vegetables, asking them where they are going to be planting the item and how much time they have to water and fertilize it.

“I always feel so blessed because I have a job that I love. When you love what you’re doing, the days go fast.” Thinking about her customers, she comments, “People are always happy. Who in a bad mood would come in and buy a flower?”

Yankton Nurseries - Yankton, South Dakota



Located on the east side of Yankton, Yankton Nurseries is nestled in on several acres of land just off of Ferdig Street. Jay Gurney explains to me how his greatgrandfather started the greenhouse, originally known as Hesperian Nurseries. His greatgrandfather, a civil war veteran, got a job with the State of Nebraska Research Center in Concord, NE, after the war.


In the late 1890s, knowing that homesteaders were coming to the Great Plains, he scouted out Yankton and set up Hesperian Nurseries. Changing names and hands over the years, the nursery became Yankton Nurseries, the House of Gurney, Gurney Seed & Nursery Company and back to Yankton Nurseries.

Jay and Tracy Gurney not only have a large nursery where they can grow a wide variety of plants, shrubs and trees, but they have 10 greenhouses with each greenhouse a specialty of its own. One greenhouse houses the delicate baby plants, one holds only rose bushes, one contains various house plants and one has many unique items including some non-leaf bearing plants. Multicolored blooms are everywhere you look.

Jay’s typical day starts off by tending to the plants and prioritizing what needs to be done first, not an easy task with such a large property. “There’s always something to do,” he smiles. He waters everything by hand to control how much water each plant gets, with water wands attached to the ends of the hoses. Water wands, he explains, are crucial to watering your plants properly, as they spray water out of the end of the wand nicely, landing right on the plant like a rain shower. He highly recommends them for proper plant watering. He carries a trusty pair of fruit snipers in a holster on his belt, his most often used hand-tool. Clippers of other sizes are also used to trim up his crop, from scissors to lop-shears.

Jay, Tracy and their staff plant foliage year-round. They have three additional employees, two full-time and one part-time, to help keep everything on their grounds in order. January through April are primarily when they do their seeding and cutting, with a goal to have an abundance of items by the middle of May. “May is the big month. June is pretty good too,” Jay explains. Timing is very important in his business. Jay explains how they can acclimate the greenhouses to manipulate the plant growth, ventilating more to keep it cooler slows the plant growth down, or turning the heat up speeds up plant growth.

Yankton Nurseries has a vast assortment of plants, shrubs and trees and many unique plants to pick from. They take pride in their wide variety of rose bushes available, with approximately 50 to 60 different kinds in their selection. They are happy to help customers decide what to plant and the best spot to put it, and even offer the spring and last year they even offered a visiting day for the Master Gardeners group.

“I am fortunate, in that very few people get to do what I do. I get to pick out anything and everything I want in the plant world,” Jay beams. He explains how he is the purchaser and the planter, raising the plant and seeing it go off to a customer to make them happy. He explains that he doesn’t have a rose bush anywhere in his yard. “I don’t need it. I have plenty of beautiful things here to look at and keep me occupied.”

Other area businesses featuring greenhouse offerings are Yankton & Vermillion Hy-Vee stores, Yankton & Vermillion Ace Hardware stores, Country Cupboard, Bomgaars, Yankton & Vermillion Wal-Marts, Menards, Rosewood Greenhouse, Brandt’s Greenhouse, Morse’s Market, Diane’s Greenhouse and K-mart.

I’ll admit, after visiting these greenhouses, I caught a little of the “awesome blossom” feeling. Being surrounded by their greenhouses of abundant lush blooms and blossoms in every color made me anxious to get started on planting flowers and gardening for the season. Now if I could just remember to water everything.....