For almost 60 years, family-owned Black Diamond, Inc. has plucked a bouquet of well-versed horticulturists to grow and tend its vast glassed-in fields of flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs. Having known many of Black Diamond, Inc.’s plants since their tender, botanic infancy, its greenery gurus pride themselves on being able to go beyond cursory recommendations to in-depth discussions of plants and how each interacts with fertilizers, soil, insecticides, and their ilk. Take home the recurrent colors of perennial flowers ($2.99–$11.99) such as the bloomerang—a repeat-blooming lilac that makes for better lawn fixtures than repeat-capsizing lilacs—or other low-maintenance, color-exuding favorites such as the knockout shrub rose or endless summer hydrangea. Annuals ($1.19–$29.99) provide summer-long flowerage with such pedal-wielders as the rocket mix snapdragon or shade-loving impatiens in accent watermelon. Vegetables ($0.89–$11.99) fill hunger voids and double as props during choreographed food fights in the form of roma tomatoes or black beauty eggplants, and shrubs ($9.99–$79.99) and a huge inventory of trees ($69.99–$299.99) serve up too-large-for-serving-platters of shade and yard ornamentation.
In 1978, a modest 32’x144’ poly greenhouse began supplying a farm with tomatoes and pepper plants. More than 30 years later, the greenhouse has exploded into a 3-acre operation that supports a leafy abundance of 15,000 flowering hanging baskets, more than 100,000 potted annuals, and 25,000 potted perennials. Helmed by Don and Janice Bench and their son and daughter-in-law, the greenhouse and nursery pairs visitors with more than 200 varieties of hybrid roses, which only require 1 gallon of gas to bloom on the highway, as well as trees, shrubs, statues, and fountains.
In November and December, the garden center morphs into a winter wonderland that showcases more than 100 decorated trees and a seasonal trove of ornaments, fragrant wreaths, poinsettias, and crimson bows. During summer months, the Benches man a roadside produce stand, where they sell sweet corn, melons, beans, and squash from their 650-acre farm.
For 129 years, the farmhouse at Country Lane Tree Farm has looked out over acres of trees and crops as they bear fruit, change colors, and catch a light dusting of snow. The Bowlander family keeps the land bustling through the seasons by inviting families and school groups to come take part in farm activities. Craft barn events happen in the spring and summer, along with farm tours where children can see and interact with a variety of animals. Activities include, milking cows, holding chickens and ducks, and gazing profoundly into the deep eyes of Peaches the donkey. Animal feed is also included. During the fall, the Bowlanders make an enormous maze out of their cornfield, invite guests to pick pumpkins from their 10-acre patch, and enjoy a Haunted Hayride and the indoor Haunted "Carnevil" Barn.
An offshoot of a national network, the locally based staff of Weed Man maintains alluring front-yard aesthetics with environmentally friendly products, each stamped with the EPA's seal of approval. They tweak their lawn services for specific issues: fertilizing and aerating wilting blades, nurturing grass with a rich, organic top dressing, and subduing rogue garden gnomes with chloroform. Employees unleash safe solutions on lawns teeming with white grubs or other harmful insects and tyrannical flora, such as nutsedge, dallis grass, and crabgrass.
Copper Moon Studio owner Stacy Wetzel guides budding artists in their pursuit of fused-glass masterpieces, leading jewelry classes (a $45 value) that end in each student's production of custom pieces to take home. Students can choose two pieces of jewelry to craft, mixing and matching necklaces, rings, or a set of earrings, and forming them for an understated, overstated, or post-apocalyptic look. Glass whisperers who enroll in the sun-catcher course (a $50 value) leave with a unique piece ready to safely capture the Icarus-toasting rays of that cheery orb. Those disinterested in hands-on glass manipulation can purchase $45 worth of jewelry created in the studio by Wetzel, with items such as stained-glass earrings ($30–$40), beaded necklaces ($20–$35), and fused-glass pendants ($20–$24).
The story of Kircher’s Flowers began in 1908, when Mr. and Mrs. Winfield S. Kircher first began peddling petals in at their Indiana shop. More than a century later, the shop’s horticultural experts continue their founders’ legacy, nurturing thousands of blossoms ready to join together in flower arrangements or add splashes of color to yards. Floral artists snip 26,000 gerber daisies, 15,000 snapdragons, and 2,000 daffodils each year as they craft petal-and-leaf creations to fit any occasion, from sunny nosegays that cheer up hospital patients to romantic rose bouquets that clue loved ones in to deeper feelings. Kircher’s expansive greenhouses also yield untouched perennials, annuals, and fronds that green-thumbed shoppers tote home for planting along walkways or brightening patios. The gardening center grows nearly three quarters of the flowers that it sells, which allows its professionals to lavish care on each plant and ensure that no one accidentally takes home a spy who forgot to take off his shrub disguise.