by Victoria Howell
K&S Greenhouse, at 204 Black Lane in Corvallis, has made a name for itself with its hanging flower baskets. The baskets are simply gorgeous, bursting with lively combinations of bright colored annuals. If you want color for your decks and patios, and you don’t want to wait for your own plantings to get big, K&S is the place to go. Owner Gale Price said their baskets have sold out the past two years and she expects to sell about 2000 baskets this year.
But Gale’s father Ken Price, who started the business, didn’t always grow flowers. In 1982, he built his first greenhouse and grew tomatoes which he sold wholesale. In 1999, he built the greenhouses that you see today, and he continued growing tomatoes and also peppers. He and his wife and business partner, Sandy (thus the “K&S”), started experimenting with ornamentals in 2007 and soon switched over completely. The only tomatoes you’ll find now at K&S are the kind you can buy as plants and grow for yourself.
In 2017, Gale took over the business. She says that her parents never expected that she would be the child who would follow in their footsteps when they retired. Gale was a broadcast journalism major (she did a stint as a weekend broadcaster at KECI) and then went to law school and became an attorney. But she says that she realized she “didn’t like being behind a desk.”
K&S Greenhouse is a full service garden center, selling hanging baskets and deck planters, annual, herb and vegetable starts, perennials, trees and shrubs and houseplants. During the holidays they sell poinsettias, Christmas trees and wreaths. Gale was inspired to start a “Christmas store” which has been steadily gaining in popularity. All the tables become vendor tables and people can sell crafts and homemade products.
“The vendors don’t have to be here,” said Gale, which makes it easy for them to participate. “Covid was a big driver because all the craft fairs were canceled. We were open but people could really spread out.”
Gale said that her husband is busy doing his own thing, so she runs the business mostly on her own, with a crew of 12-15 employees. “Our crew is family,” she said. “We even hang out together in our off hours… I’d like to keep all my employees forever but seasonal work is really tough. The Christmas store helps keep the employees working through the winter.”
She said her two daughters, 13 and 9, come in occasionally to help out. When asked if they might take over some day, she said, “My parents were very careful not to push me into this, and I’m not going to push my kids into it either.”
Gale decides all the flower combinations herself; she calls them her “recipes.” K&S uses a “fertigation” system which might account for the magnificent baskets. “Our baskets get regular fertilization and water.” This year timers were installed. “We used to have to get up there to water,” said Gale, pointing to the water lines that run between the baskets hanging just below the roof. “The timers really help with consistency and are less labor intensive.” She said they also use natural methods of pest control, “good bugs that attack the bad bugs.”
Outside the greenhouses, a major expansion is underway. Two thousand new holes are being dug for their “pot in a pot” system for trees and shrubs. Two more growing houses are also being added.
Gale said she’s a big believer in being part of the community. She’s excited about a current collaboration with the Mine Shaft Pasty Company. They will be supplying goodies for her Mother’s Day open house, which is a three-day affair. K&S offers free cookies, lemonade, coffee, and also a free dahlia to all the moms who stop in. K&S is also partnering with Westslope Distillery on a succulent centerpiece work
shop. K&S will also be planting all the planters in downtown Hamilton through a collaboration with the Hamilton Downtown Association and the Hamilton Business Improvement District that will span all four seasons.
“I wanted to contribute to the community,” said Gale. “I’m a big believer in that. My parents set a really good example.” Gale also tries to collaborate with other nurseries when possible, in combined shipping, for example, or sharing creative ideas. “I really think the nursery industry here benefits from having all of us.”
In the “off season” K&S also offers a variety of classes, where people can learn to plant their own baskets, deck planters and terrariums. “They can pick out what they want,” says Gale, “and then we hang on to them until spring. It’s fun to see the joy in their eyes when they pick them up.”
For more information contact K&S at 406-961-1612 or visit ksgreenhouse.com.