Editor’s Note: This article originally published in April 2017.
What was 95-year-old Mary Harrison doing on an early spring morning at her Hanover Twp. home?
Pruning a rose bush and working with her daughter and granddaughter to get her plant farm ready for its 41st season.
Dressed for the chilly wear with a favorite pair of gardening gloves and clippers, Harrison pruned at Mary’s Plant Farm & Landscaping, her three-acre showcase filled with thousands of flowers, shrubs, trees, herbs, tomatoes and fruits.
“You cannot sit down, you have to keep yourself moving,” she said, chuckling. “Don’t sit your butt down in a chair. You ain’t going to live long if you do.”
Sitting is not something Harrison plans to do as long as there are new plants to propagate.
Harrison, born and raised in Hamilton, moved to the Lanes Mill Road property with her husband, Alvis, in the 1940s. There was a single tree on the property, but Harrison and her father quickly fixed that.
“My daddy was a gardener. I was raised learning from him,” Harrison said.
Harrison soon began sharing her passion with others and founded the Floras Amo Garden Club in Hamilton, providing plants for the club’s annual sales.
Soon avid gardeners and horticulturalists were visiting her home to tour her gardens, and she would often generously give away cuttings of plants.
In 1976, Harrison said she was tired of giving away plants so she decided a business venture with her daughter, Sherri Berger, would be the key to supporting her obsession of buying new plants and educating others about gardening.
“Everyone deserves to have nice plants,” Harrison said.
In the early days of her business, she planted in old coffee cans saved by family and neighbors.
“I tell ya’ honey, I started on a shoestring, but I didn’t care. It was what I loved,” she said.
Even before opening her business, Harrison said she worked to support her gardening habit.
“I always did something — seamstress, upholsterer, whatever — so I could have plant money,” she said.
The business, located at 2410 Lanes Mill Road, has grown, supplying plants to gardeners not only in the tri-state area, but also those around the country via mail orders.
Harrison also hosts many clubs and organizations at the nursery, teaching them about unusual and rare species of plants that she has collected over the decades.
Among her collections is a meditation garden featuring 80 varieties of Boxwoods, beds of violets, a peony field and several varieties of heirloom Buck roses.
What is her favorite flower?
“Oh, I stopped trying to do that a long time ago,” she said.
How about her favorite color of rose?
Laughing, she answered, “whatever is in bloom.”
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MARY’S PLANT FARM & LANDSCAPING
Spring hours (April 4 to May 31):
- 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
- Noon to 5 p.m. Sundays
- Closed Mondays
Summer and fall hours (June 1 to Oct. 28):
- 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
- Closed Sundays and Mondays
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