By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–When Doug Kerksiek grew up in Beaver he took on the role of planter, garden tenderer, tree and shrubbery cultivator. His grandfather, Walter, opened a first nursery business there in 1956. His father Sam, he and brothers Jeff, Steven, and Robert have carried on that legacy as local experts in everything from soil and fertilizer to how to maintain a hanging basket and color bowl.
“We’ve been working with plants, soil and fertilizer as long as I can remember,” said Kerksiek, who today is surrounded by thousands of plant-lings and racks of merchandise, bush-lined sidewalks, tree-filled yards and hundreds of flowers, from annuals and perennials, to vegetables. It is something of a family tradition.
“It was really on the job-training for our family,” said Kerksiek, who graduated with a Marketing degree from Southern Utah University and who helped open the doors at the Cedar City westside location of Ladybug Nursery in 2005. “But I do find myself learning more about the process and the nitty-gritty of the nursery every day.”
While broccoli, cabbage, onions and other varieties are good choices in early spring, Kerksiek says he and staff are ready to share the best advice on what to choose and why. “For flowers, Dianthus, Snapdragons and the Pansy are popular, but there are so many here, with a lot of unique stuff to consider.”
His day is full helping shoppers with landscaping decisions or giving his best pointers on where or when to plant. “Of course, the main thing is that you water often, observe how the plant is doing, create your vision,” said Kerksiek. “If it gets cold (this time of year) cover it. Plants, bushes or trees can handle a little stress, but you need to be observant about it.”
According to Kerksiek, his nursery is about enjoying the learning process and including family in those traditions. “We see many parents and grandparents with younger children come through, so we know that planting and growing is something that people can enjoy doing together – and there’s a lot to take in.”
One of the first additions to the original Ladybug greenhouse was to make it a family friendly visit by adding a sandbox and play area for kids to enjoy. “Our customers and families are so important to what we do. So, it’s okay if you have the kids come along, babies are always welcome, or just come play in the dirt.”
Over the next few months, Kerksiek will offer a series of free workshops and open-house topics for customers. In April, the Cedar City-based Nursery will feature classes on ‘Tree Pruning, on Planting Garden Bowls and Hanging Baskets and on April 21 and April 23 there will be an all day, ‘Dirt Day’ at Cedar City and Enoch.
“Basically, if people bring in an empty pot (16”or smaller), buy some plants we’ll donate the soil and help plant your pots for you,” said Kerksiek. On April 27 the Cedar City nursery will offer a 6 p.m. class on ‘Tomato and Vegetable’ planting; and a morning class (Apr.28) on “Ways to Keep your Garden in Tip Top Shape” and “Annuals, Perennials & Roses.”
Today, Kerksiek is making plans for a family “Gardening Day” Sat., June 9 which he says will include a complimentary lunch, free train rides, live goldfish (to catch) and free Ladybug ‘scavenger hunts’ for kids. “I think our family has always enjoyed work in the nursery, but we hope to share that tradition and learning with the community too.”
Photo Caption: Doug Kerksiek, manager/owner of Ladybug Nursery and daughter, Clare spend their day surrounded by an endless array of flowers, plants, shrubbery and trees. The community is invited to learn more about planting options at various free workshops and classes scheduled in April, May and June in Cedar City and Enoch locations. A free plant on Mother’s Day. For information, see www.ladybugnursery.com.