Sunshine and a rose
Sunshine Gardens offers single rose to moms on Mother’s Day
“Every year I give away a free rose to moms in honor of Mother’s Day,” said Donna Jane Evans, owner of Sunshine Gardens. “That’s our big thing on Mother’s Day weekend, we give away one rose. We’ve been doing that for years. I’ve had some ladies that are alone or they’re widowed, and it just makes their day. It just makes you feel good.”
For the past 35 years, in the vernal month of May, Evans’s greenhouses and gardens spring to life with the blooming of flowers and herbs. Sunshine Gardens, located at 980 Route 67 in the town of Amsterdam, was opened by Evans in the spring of 1985 after graduating from SUNY Morrisville with a degree in horticulture.
“I worked for a really great florist in Schenectady and wanted to finally start it for myself. So I came up here,” Evans said. “I started in April of 1985 and it’s basically my front yard. I have [a background in] horticulture — I was a landscaper, I laid sod. So it was just something I was always going to progress.”
Sunshine Gardens, which opened on May 1, features an extensive array of flowers and herbs. The greenhouses overflow with vibrant and colorful annuals and perennials, like marigolds and peonies, while the warm air is thick with the mingling scents of rose and daphne.
“We’re finding that people are always looking for new things,” Evans said. “Things have changed quite a bit in the last few years. I would say the biggest preference now is for larger plants versus the flat material where you get the little tiny flowers. And I think that’s because they grow faster, it’s a better buy for your dollar because you can buy six little plants and they won’t do as much as one bigger one.”
In addition to the plants, Evans said Sunshine Gardens has become known for its creative containers, which include hand-crafted and painted pots as well as decorative boxes, buckets and even shoes or boots. Many of the items are designed by Sunshine Garden’s artist, Gail Talmadge — a local artist who also offers “Taste and Paint” events throughout the region.
“I would say this, our forte, our niche here, is our wonderful containers,” Evans said. “They’re eclectic. Our motto is if you can put soil in it, we’ll plant [in] it: boots, shoes, colanders, pocketbooks, you name it. That’s what people really love to come see.”
Evans said their Adirondack boxes — flower boxes made from “old barn siding” –are especially popular.
“[We’ve’ been selling [Adirondack boxes] for about 15 years,” Evans said. “The gentleman who makes them, [does so] in every shape and size. Some of them have handles, some of them look like toolboxes. Sometimes we’ll take a window sash or a window frame that doesn’t have any glass in it, screw it on the back of it and we put quotes [on it].”
Evans said that she also allows customers to bring in their own containers to be filled, with Evans utilizing her extensive knowledge of gardening and horticulture to find just the right plants to suit each individual.
“We like to educate our customers so that they’re successful with what they take home,” Evans said. “A lot of times I will talk somebody out of buying something just because it’s pretty, and steer them towards something I know will thrive. If you’re asking for that information or advice, we will make sure that you’re well prepared when you go out so you have a successful purchase.”
Evans is dedicated to teaching others the joys of gardening and the proper techniques to become successful.
“We do garden club talks, we have little kids come in and do tours and I am more than willing to help youth groups or schools or Future Farmers of America,” Evans said. “We love to educate our customers and we love to start new kids down the path of gardening because it really enriches their lives.”
Sunshine Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week from now until early August. They will be giving away a single rose free of charge to all mothers that stop in today. For more information call (518) 843-3434 or visit Sunshine Gardens online at www.facebook.com/SunshineGardensAmsterdamNy/.