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Bloomington Valley Nursery: ‘Returning to Our Roots’ by Julie Warren

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Nestled off of Old 37, Bloomington Valley Nursery is a verdant oasis with much to explore. Founded in 1965, the nursery is known around town for its customer service and unique selection. The friendly staff stock saplings, flowers, houseplants, and more, and offer free gardening classes for the public.

Nestled off of Old 37, Bloomington Valley Nursery is a verdant oasis with much to explore. Founded in 1965, the nursery is known around town for its customer service and unique selection. The friendly staff stock saplings, flowers, houseplants, and more, and offer free gardening classes for the public.

Driving south on Walnut Street, way past the bustling downtown and the shopping centers at the edge of the city limits, you might miss the turn into Bloomington Valley Nursery if you aren’t familiar with the area. Their large sign appears suddenly, past a row of tall trees on the west side of Old State Road 37 and only just before you see the gravel drive leading to the nursery that’s tucked off the road down an embankment. It’s easy to get to, being on one of Bloomington’s busiest and oldest streets, but it is hidden by the neighboring vegetation and seems like a surprise abutting a residential area. But that is part of the charm of the nursery; it feels like a verdant oasis slightly shut off from the cars and houses.

Bloomington Valley Nursery isn't just a resource for household green thumbs. They also supply local landscaping companies and stock plenty of trees, evergreens, and shrubs for bigger projects.

Bloomington Valley Nursery isn’t just a resource for household green thumbs. They also supply local landscaping companies and stock plenty of trees, evergreens, and shrubs for bigger projects.

Being in business for 53 years is no small feat. As one of Bloomington's more seasoned local businesses, Bloomington Valley Nursery has provided consistent service and also adapted to changes in the market over the years. At the moment, “gardeners in Bloomington have an interest in returning to our roots, so to speak,” says the nursery's manager, Jeanna Sexton.

Being in business for 53 years is no small feat. As one of Bloomington’s more seasoned local businesses, Bloomington Valley Nursery has provided consistent service and also adapted to changes in the market over the years. At the moment, “gardeners in Bloomington have an interest in returning to our roots, so to speak,” says the nursery’s manager, Jeanna Sexton.

Explore the nursery’s walking paths and greenhouses to become acquainted with the variety of plants — an array of indoor and outdoor flora offers something for every living space.

Explore the nursery’s walking paths and greenhouses to become acquainted with the variety of plants — an array of indoor and outdoor flora offers something for every living space.

Though it’s nestled in a hollow, Bloomington Valley Nursery has a steady stream of customers who seek out the luscious trees, plants, and flowers they sell. After 53 years in business, it’s clear that the nursery is doing something right, and customers recognize it. To stay successful for that long, the nursery has been consistent in quality and service while also constantly changing to meet new trends. These ideas seem contradictory, but they work together like soil and water.

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The nursery carries a variety of native plants, including dogwood and redbud trees and chokeberry and winterberry bushes.

The nursery carries a variety of native plants, including dogwood and redbud trees and chokeberry and winterberry bushes.

The nursery opened in 1965, with the current owner, Shawn Eurton, taking over in 2007. Eurton is a local landscaping professional and entrepreneur who also owns Mother Nature Landscaping, among other businesses. Since changing hands, the nursery has continued to offer excellent service and the perennial favorites that gardeners expect to find. “We stock lots of colorful annuals in the spring and plenty of mums in the fall,” says Manager Jeanna Sexton.

These landscaping staples will always be available at Bloomington Valley Nursery, but alongside these classics are items that are newly popular. According to Sexton, there has been an increasing interest in plants that are native to this area. These types of trees and plants are well-suited to the local environment and support a healthy ecosystem. “Gardeners in Bloomington have an interest in returning to our roots, so to speak,” says Sexton. “So, we stock options like dogwood and redbud trees, and chokeberry and winterberry plants.”

Staying around means staying relevant: Growing and adapting

Another trend that Sexton has observed in recent years is the need for plants that will fit smaller growing spaces. People are downsizing their homes and landscaping, so Sexton has added flower and tree options that have a smaller growth potential, making them perfect for tiny homes or tiny yards. As Sexton explains, “We monitor our sales to see what’s popular and try to keep it in stock, and we follow national trends to see what will work in Bloomington to provide that as well.” Plants that are deer-resistant work well in this area, with such a large urban deer population. The nursery carries a variety of options that are less likely to become dinner.

The consistency-with-change approach also impacts the services the nursery offers. Their customers know they can ask Steve Like or Eric Holland questions about trees or talk to Ben Hertel about plant care. Rounding out the staff are Colin Champion, Floyd Eads, and Jessie Kennedy. The entire crew is knowledgeable and helpful, which is one of the reasons their customers are so loyal. To continue to fulfill that expectation, the nursery has added more personalized services. Besides general advice, customers can pay to have an on-site consultation. Nursery staff can deliver and install small and mid-sized plants and trees, and for larger projects they can coordinate installations and removals through their sister company, Mother Nature Landscaping.

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The nursery’s grounds have plenty to explore -- rock gardens, a waterfall and pond, and a habitat for resident garden gnomes and fairies.

The nursery’s grounds have plenty to explore — rock gardens, a waterfall and pond, and a habitat for resident garden gnomes and fairies.

Free workshops and classes

Another of the nursery’s unique services is their educational programming through workshops and classes on various topics. This month, the nursery will host a class on fall plantings, which will include suggestions on what to plant and tips for maintaining and keeping them healthy. The class will be held on the patio at the nursery and can hold up to 25 people. And, perhaps best of all, it’s free. “We want our customers to utilize the expertise of our staff, so that when they do buy a product from us, they know what to buy, where to plant it, and how to care for it,” says Sexton. The fall planting class will be held Saturday, September 29 at 12pm, and those interested in attending can call the nursery (812-824-8813) to reserve their spot.

Most of these new products and services are geared toward casual gardeners, but Bloomington Valley Nursery has a significant number of contractors and landscaping professionals that order from them. “Because we carry a variety of products, and they are all high quality, we’ve become a trusted source for other local businesses,” says Sexton. She notes that they are particular about their vendors, ensuring that the growers and suppliers share their high standards. “We only buy plants and trees that are healthy and grown with proper care,” she says.

It’s remarkable for a local company to last five decades, especially in this new age of chain stores and online retailers who sell anything and everything, and sometimes at a cheaper price. But Bloomington Valley Nursery has changed with the trends, adding specialized services and unique products that can’t be matched by box stores and online outlets. They sell only high-quality products and create a personalized experience for their customers. They have managed to blend trendy with traditional. “Every year we add something new,” says Sexton. “The new products and services just complement what we’ve already got and add a little something extra.”

Wander the walking paths through the rock garden and greenhouses, sit next to the stream and smile at the friendly figurine perched nearby, gaze at the bounty of beautiful flowers and shrubs, and discover that extra something for yourself.

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The nursery is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 6pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm in the fall season. The gift shop is stocked with garden décor, bird and butterfly supplies, and a variety of potting soils. Find more information at www.bloomingtonvalleynursery.com or on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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