Local grower expands wholesale business to retail

For Dale and Jana Dalke, owners of Serenity Gardens, the gardening business is a family affair. Jana and children Emery, 9 months, Jesse 5 and Eli 3?, pose amid flowers that have been growing since January and February. Serenity Gardens is now in its second season as a retail operation, and is located about three miles east of Hillsboro on 190th.

With about 70 varieties of perennials, numerous annuals, 39 shrub varieties and 15 ornamental tree varieties, Serenity Gardens is ready to accommodate customers for the spring planting season.

Serenity Gardens, owned by Dale and Jana Dalke of Hillsboro, is in its second season as a retail business.

The business began in a small greenhouse at the Dalke?s farm in 2002 when Jana began growing plants for wholesale.

?I actually never intended to be retail because I just loved the growing part of it, but I realized after being wholesale for several years that I missed talking about plants with people,? Jana Dalke said.

Dalke, a former grower for Johnson?s Garden Center in Wichita, said she began growing for wholesale before the birth of daughter Jessi.

?We started growing when I was pregnant with Jessi and started selling after she was born, but it was wholesale,? Dalke said.

But, after a few years Dalke didn?t think wholesale was as interesting as retail.

?With wholesale I went, dropped the plants off and I left, and that was just not as much fun,? she said.

She decided to return to retail after she realized that retail in Hillsboro is more conducive to family life than in Wichita.

?I?m used to retail in Wichita,? she said. ?Retail in Wichita does not allow for family time. So after living here for awhile and realizing this is a family-friendly place, (going retail) worked out.?

And operating the business is a family affair. Jana?s parents help with planting in January and February, husband Dale helps with maintenance and spacing issues, and the Dalke?s three children, Jessi, 5, Eli, 31⁄2, and Emery, 9 months, spend many hours helping in the greenhouses.

?Jessi really enjoys the flowers, the planting,? Dalke said. ?And Eli enjoys the dirt part. He likes filling pots.?

Neighbor Lori Funk and sister-in-law Dana Dalke have also helped with the business this year.

Dalke said the ?nice thing? about working with annuals and perennials is that the growing process begins late?in January and February.

?It?s a pretty short process,? she said.

Although Dalke enjoys working with annuals, she said perennials are her specialty.

?Perennials are definitely my thing, my forte,? she said. ?The beauty of God?s creation is evident in the vast number of varieties that are available. The many varieties of perennials I have only just scratches the surface of what?s out there. That?s just amazing to me.?

Dalke said she is most excited to have trees and shrubs available for her customers for the first time this year.

She also said that if customers come with a drawing of an area to be planted, she can help pick plants that work for the area.

?The key thing for people coming out buying flowers is to know the area that they?re buying for? whether it?s sun or shade or whether it?s a dry spot or a wet spot,? Dalke said. ?If they know whether it?s sun or shade, then I can help them with which plants will work.?

She also said that dimensions help when determining the size of plant that will fit in a particular area, because some plants get too big for a small space.

?If you just have a small space, then you?re limited and you can?t just buy whatever flower you want,? she said. ?But if you?re not that limited, then you can come get ideas first.?

Serenity Gardens is located east of Hillsboro at 1320 190th. Beginning April 4 and running through the middle of June, the business will be open Fridays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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