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Middle Creek Nursery

(7/1) Itís possible the idea for Middle Creek Nursery may have been planted in the back of a Ď54 Buick.

Owners Don and Nancy Vanderau began the nursery with just a few shade houses and a relatively small sales yard in the late 1970s, but technically, the idea for the business started with Donís father.

"When I was a kid, my father worked at Letterkenny but also had a little nursery just outside of Mercersburg and thatís really what made me start the business," said Don, a retired chemistry teacher from Gettysburg Senior High School.

His dad actually borrowed a pickup truck to travel to Wesminster, Md., for balled and burlapped shrubs -- "which in the trade is known as B&B" Don quipped, in his trademark comical, dry manner.

Oddly enough, the truck broke down in Emmitsburg, Md., maybe 50 feet from the home of his future-wifeís uncle.

"Thatís a little weird, isnít it?" Don questioned, but the scientist in him still concluded it was nothing more than mere coincidence.

Once his dad got the plants home, heíd arrange to sell them to various people in Mercersburg. Don and his brothers would go with their dad to dig the holes and amazingly, the plants were loaded into the back of "a new, green Ď54 Buick Century," Don said, shaking his head.

As someone who could be called a car enthusiast, Don "couldnít imagine putting a bunch of B&B shrubs in the back of a new car and hauling them somewhere."

Still, the concept of planting shrubs traveled with him through his life and as he taught students about electrons and valences and atoms and molecules for more than 30 years, he also had thoughts about a nursery.

"I thoroughlly enjoyed my years teaching chemistry," Don reminisced. "But I didnít want to wake up one day when I was seventy -- which I am now, wow -- basically having spent my life in a classroom."

When Don married his wife, Nancy, and ended up with 10 acres of land, Middle Creek Nursery seemed like a reasonable dream.

Tody, the business includes out buildings and polyhouses for growing plants, as well as spaces for perennials and annuals, and the family-run nursery nestled on more than 10 acres in south-central Pennsylania has been going strong for more than 30 years.

Don attributes his success to growing his own plants.

"I produce a lot of my inventory myself, which allows me to cut out the middle man and keep my prices reasonable," he explained. "Plus because itís grown here, itís acclimated to the climate in which itís going to grow."

"Nice plants, sensible prices" is Middle Creek Nurseryís motto and that, along with Don and Nancyís fun-loving nature, is what brings customers back.

"We like to have a good time when people stop by," said Don. "People just like to come here."

Middle Creek Nursery offers a variety of plants, including annuals in the spring, perennials, evergreen and flowering shrubs, some trees, Japanese maples and a nice line of general nursery stock that is grown on the property, such as arborvitae, azalaes, boxwoods, hollies. hydrangeas, spireas and spruce.

A complete list of the full inventory can be found on Middle Creek Nurseryís website, middlecreeknursery.com.

Like Don said, he keeps his price list on his website becaue "if you have reasonable prices, you might as well tell people what it costs so they know up front."

Don figures fair prices and nice quality plants will be what bring people in.

So far, the theory seems to be working.

While a Ď54 Buick may be tough to find nowadays, the memory is still quite vivid, especially to hear Don tell it, and the product of the experience can be seen in the flowers and trees and laughter and greenery during your next visit to Middle Creek Nursery.

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