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Secret Garden

05/29/2013 01:07PM ● Published by Enjoy Magazine

The sun dances over young trees in pots, which watch eagerly as people pull into the parking lot of the Spring Hill Nursery and Gardens. Large conifers tower in the background over their smaller cousins as young children, parents and garden enthusiasts come to adopt plants for their yards and gardens. A blue Stellar Jay hops among the trees, chirping as if greeting guests. People grab the worn handles of flat carts, entering through the vine-covered beams of the archway onto the curling paths of the two-acre expanse.

From her wood cabin counter, Katie Jessup smiles and welcomes her customers. Bushes and flowers beam from small antique rail flat cars, as shelves of ground cover spiral above them. Baby vegetables grow in a nearby greenhouse, while wind chimes sing to them as a warm summer breeze causes each plant to wave to catch the attention of passersby.

“This is my 17th year here,” Jessup says. “I wanted to go to where I felt at home and that brought me here to Mount Shasta.” She found a distressed property, which had been the residence of a pot-bellied pig. “He had made holes in the house. There were no plants growing above the level of his head. The property was desolate.” After eight months, the home and grounds were transformed. “I’ve been happy to be here ever since,” Jessup says.

The enchanted garden grows all around Jessup, forming the backyard of her home. Dragons, bears and wild cats peer from their stone faces at the pathways. Roses await their blooms. A white fir shades the deck at the back of the wood cabin, where benches invite conversation in the shade.

“Most of our plants come from Oregon,” Jessup says. “They are heartier and a good match for our area.” Deer-resistant plants are available to help people live with the wildlife and enjoy both together.

The nursery is divided into individual gardens, giving a sense of how the plants might look in another setting. The edible section spills past the herbs to an area of berries. Orchard trees line up in attention. A bouquet garden offers a place to cut and carry away fresh flowers. Fair trade items decorate the nursery, adding to the allure.

Workshops are offered throughout the season. Weddings, choral performances and music groups find their place here. Community events find refuge.

“People come here to look for plants,” Jessup says. “We try to give them an experience, listen to them. It’s about more than learning plants. We want to create a passion for nature in one’s yard.”

Jessup’s enthusiasm spreads beyond her own location. Every year she sponsors a garden tour. “There really is a desire here to be part of the community and individual lives,” she says.

The garden tour benefits the local library, and every year, five to seven gardens are featured. “These are often the hidden gems of Mount Shasta,” she says. Private and community gardens are highlighted. In the past, the Community Peace Garden, the Catholic Church Garden and the Forest Service Nature Garden have been parts of the event. The eighth tour is planned for June 22, and enthusiasts can make a donation, pick up their maps at the nursery and walk through the magic growing around them throughout the city.

Walking over the stepping stones, smelling the freshness of flowers and watching the kaleidoscope of color reminds the visitor of an abundant life. As a sign in the garden reads: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago...the second best time is today.” •

Spring Hill Nursery and Gardens 1234 Nixon Road, Mount Shasta www.springhillnurseryandgardens.com

Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Monday through Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm Sunday (open from the end of March through October) Garden tour: 10 am - 3 pm June 22

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