Garden Perennials celebrates last bloom in business
Gail Korn asked herself many questions before starting her business, Garden Perennials. One of those questions was if people would be willing to travel the three-and-a-half miles out of Wayne to buy daylilies. Thirty-six years later and about a month from her retirement, the question makes her laugh.
"Silly me, they will travel hundreds of miles. People have traveled from so many miles to see the gardens," Korn said.
If flower fans haven't taken the opportunity to see Korn's gardens off Highway 15, they're running out of time as October will be Korn's last season as owner and operator of Garden Perennials.
Korn is a natural green-thumb. Her mother, grandmother and aunt were gardeners, but initially, Korn came from Iowa to Wayne to study English at Wayne State College. She met and married Richard Korn and taught Speech and English at Wisner from 1967-1972. After teaching, she worked selling shrubs and trees for an area nursery, occasionally designing and planting gardens. Then, Korn asked herself questions.
"I asked myself a lot of questions in the beginning. First I thought maybe I should take a business class, then I thought, 'nah, I'll just do it,'" Korn said.
With that decision, Korn decided to be the person people turned to for perennials.
Initially, Garden Perennials was a small business, but Korn attributes her time helping to organize the early Chicken Shows with realizing the need for publicity. She wrote to two Omaha World Herald garden editors, which led to write-ups in Midwest Living Magazine and Country Woman Magazine. The latter helped bring Garden Perennials to national gardeners' attention.
"I've sent plants to every state in the union," Korn said.
The plants that she mails out and sells at her business are tried and tested to ensure buyers are getting plants that will hold up. Korn said she won't sell a plant unless she's been able to grow it herself for at least three years. This rule has helped Korn try new things and has kept her love of gardening alive.
"It has allowed and encouraged me to grow a lot of different kinds of flowers," Korn said. "A perennial garden is never the same from one day to the next so just getting up to see what new things are in bloom is fun."
In her retirement, Korn will continue to garden and grow on her property. She is also looking forward to the freedom retirement will provide, and hopes to do some painting and kitten-taming along the way.
Since publicizing that this year would be her last, Korn said gardening friends and acquaintances made along the way have stopped in to Garden Perennials and she's enjoyed catching up.
Garden Perennials has an active Facebook page, and gardeners can still visit the business's website at gardenperennials.net or visit the gardens three-and-a-half miles south of Wayne.