The horses at Stepping Stone Ranch may as well be wearing plush bathrobes. At the full-care boarding facility, denizens enjoy such luxurious amenities as heated stalls—where automatic fly-spray systems keep their manes free from airborne pests—and 24-hour access to a 35-acre pasture, where they can gallop freely under the sun or channel the spirit of Secretariat in midnight séances. Stepping Stone Ranch's commitment to compassionate horse care ensures that equines will be in good spirits for riding lessons, during which clients learn from dressage enthusiast Vera Gannaway. Gannaway's lessons teach riders to find their balance in the saddle, develop soft hands on the reins, and calm bucking steeds by letting them get the Batman toy that the big boys have. In addition, Vera covers the basics of equestrian care in group horse-training classes, which prepare pupils to own and squire their own horses.
Topeka Landscape beautifies domestic turfs and grooms hedge animals with a green-gussying array of landscaping services and a variety of trees and plants. Clients can give grounds a meticulous mowing ($50–$90) or a fungicide treatment ($49 per application) to keep yards from morphing into caterpillar discotheques. A five-step seasonal lawn fertilization program ($60–$100 on average per application) promotes year-round growth and grub control ($82) prevents gluttonous larva banquets.
Since its acquisition by the Jackson family more than 60 years ago, Jackson's Greenhouse & Garden Center has grown from a modest vegetable supplier to a full-service gardening and landscaping depot. Patrons can fill the gaps in their gardens with more than 600 types of annuals and perennials, 67 varieties of trees, and additional collections of roses, bulbs, and veggies. Organic fertilizers such as Natural Guard and Ferti-lome tuck flora into more sustainable beds, and benches and fountains furnish gardens for sojourning lawn gnomes. Less seasoned gardeners can hire Jackson's landscape specialist for landscape design or induction of irrigation systems, and year-round seminars enlighten students on subjects such as DIY herb gardens and pond installation.
Along their lush, 40-acre parcel of land, Brad and Mary Ann Funk bring a lifelong dream to fruition every day. The Funks transformed their property into a school—a place where visitors of all ages and experience levels can learn about the couple's shared passion: horses. In the warmer months, students of Ashwood Farms can be seen trotting, cantering, and conquering fences at the outdoor arena, equipped with all-weather footing. Year-round, the farm and stables are home to casual equestrians and competitive riders alike, a handful of whom compete across the country at AA Hunter/Jumper horse shows. Students can enroll in individual classes, or join the equestrian club for a unique, well-rounded experience that includes lessons and tips for a flawless ponytail. Ashwood also provides boarding services for those already equipped with ponies, and school horses for those who wish to use them during lessons and practice rides.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Containerized trees
Pro Tip: Wear comfortable, toed shoes. There are gravel roads and grassy paths.
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
What sets your business apart from your competition?
We are a farm anchored by our nursery, vineyard and winery.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
A need to be connected to the earth is in every one of us. For me, great company and great wine in beautiful surroundings is as good as it gets.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Along with picking out some great nursery stock, the winery tasting room is open for sampling. There are a number of fun events coming up this spring. Be prepared for live music, our sheep being shorn, or an art event when you come out for the weekend. ... We grow trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses, but not annuals and vegetables. And, yes, you can call me Gilbert Grape.
What is the best reaction you?ve ever gotten from a customer?
It is so gratifying to see our products woven into the tapestry of people's lives. I have helped people pick out trees to celebrate new beginnings and also to remember those not with us. One day in the winery a couple came in celebrating their 30th anniversary. And they told me how their son had just proposed to their future daughter in law over a bottle of our wine. Love that.
What?s your favorite part about your job?
Walking through a beautiful nursery crop, or the vineyard before harvest, or opening the first bottle of a new vintage with customers in the tasting room is all equally fun. I also love seeing nursery stock we grew all over Kansas City.