Turner Greenhouse owners moving on to other things

Dave and Chris Turner of Turner Greenhouse, with their mammoth collection of cactuses and succulents and other garden features, have decided to step aside and let others carry the torch.

The Turners have decided to move on.

“We are at an age when we want to do other things,” Dave said.

“I want cruises, but Dave wants to travel around the country,” Chris added with a twinkle in her eye.

I think I understand. I was raised on a farm where we milked cows twice a day, whether it was a holiday or a freezing blizzard. The Turners’ plant material is just outside the door waiting for their attention. And if that wasn’t enough, their phones were always ringing.

The Turners are already starting to close down. Right now, they have reduced the price of stock by 25 percent. You can visit the complex at 4455 Quadrel St. Take U.S. 95 north; turn left on Craig Road, cross Buffalo Drive and turn right on Quadrel. For more information, call 645-2032.

Dave got his start in cactuses and succulents in Southern California when he was 6 years old and has been at it ever since — except for a few years of temporary insanity when he discovered girls. When he found Chris, he came back to reality. He converted her to his love of cactuses and succulents and it has been a romance ever since.

“Even at that early age, I admired cactuses for their extreme tolerance to droughty conditions and for their beautiful flowers,” Dave recalled. “When introduced to cacti, I thought the plants were ugly, but when I witnessed those first blooms, I was impressed. Cactus blooms are absolutely breathtaking and become a total surprise to most people. There is nothing like them!”

The Turners moved to Las Vegas and began pursuing their hobby. They wanted to build a greenhouse to put their jewels in, so they moved to the northwest where they built a home and two gigantic greenhouses. As time went on, they started selling plants to friends before it grew into a specialty landmark nursery. The business has grown from there, and their reputation has spread throughout the Southwest.

The Turners have always been ahead of their time. Before it was the thing to do, they were concerned about water conservation, with cactuses and succulents dotting their landscape.

Before the Southern Nevada Water Authority was advocating homeowners to eliminate unnecessary lawns, the Turners planted an entire front yard of shade-producing trees and shrubs. It is a prime example of what the water authority wants to accomplish with its Water Smart Landscaping program, where trees and shrubs will shade 50 percent of the area when plants mature. It is awesome to sit under the trees and to feel the cool and refreshing breezes in the middle of the summer.

Their backyard is another prime example of Water Smart landscaping. Towering trees hang over the yard and house, with a small patch of lawn nestled below and a table and chairs for entertaining guests. It is truly a functional lawn. Found under the massive trees and around the lawn are ground covers, vines, flowers, succulents and cactuses growing in the ground or in pots and hanging in baskets.

Across the yard are bird feeders with scores of hummingbirds taunting the Turners. Dave finds the hummingbirds get right in his face squawking for him to fill the feeders.

The Turners have practiced water conservation for well over 30 years.

“Cactus and succulent growing wasn’t popular at the time we started, but we loved them,” Dave said. “We have completely seen a transformation of landscaping in the valley and cactus and succulents and to know we have been a part of that. We now have something in bloom just about around the calendar.”

As an added note, many of this year’s landscape award winners purchased their plant material from the Turners.

The Turners have always specialized in cactuses and succulents that are hardy and beautiful. Dave would travel to many nurseries throughout the Southwest searching for hardy plants. He then dug them up and brought them home, where he planted and acclimatized them for sale.

A case in point is ocotillos. You will find ocotillos literally yanked out of the ground with nothing covering the roots until purchased at other nurseries. This was not the case at the Turners’ store.

Once the Turners get them, they remove the damaged roots, dip them in fungicide and finally paint the exposed cuts with tar. After potting the plants, they mist them once a day for about a year.

“Ocotillos come without absorbing roots and so we mist them until roots form,” Dave said. “We provided ocotillos to the Springs Preserve and they are always covered with leaves; something ocotillos don’t experience when roots are left exposed. I hope this information doesn’t die.”

Turner Greenhouse has been the home of many “Cactus Fests.” More than 3,000 visited the two-day festival to purchase plants, desert art, awesome containers, special rock material and garden art. Along with the festive activities, they have always had wonderful education programs.

“The horticulture world for advice is in short supply in Las Vegas,” said Karen Luksich of the water authority. “On the A-list of knowledgeable people are Dave and Chris Turner. Turner Greenhouse is a hidden treasure, known to cactus and succulent aficionados.

“If I have a problem about plants, they are my go-to folks for reliable answers. His or her knowledge of plants has been a great resource for anyone who is interested in gardening in this harsh environment.”

FARMERS MARKET

Purchasing fresh produce has never been easier than shopping at the Las Vegas Farmers Market at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. It has become a highlight of the week at the preserve. It features fresh-grown produce, such as oranges, peaches, asparagus, beets, avocados, sweet corn, onions, beans, squash, strawberries and other items, with an emphasis on organically grown products from within 500 miles of Las Vegas. It takes place every Thursday through the summer from 4 to 8 p.m.

If you want to become a vendor at this market, visit www.lasvegasfarmers market.com or call 562-2676.

DRIP IRRIGATION SEMINAR

This free class equips you with the skills to design and install a drip irrigation system. Learn the complete installation process from the street to the plants, including how to select and assemble components. Get involved by building a drip system right in the classroom and learn just how easy it is to save water and have great-looking plants. Join the experts from the water authority at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve. Register for this class by calling 822-7786.

IRIS SALE

The Southern Nevada Iris Society is having its annual plant sale from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and July 13 at the Star Nursery at 8725 S. Eastern Ave. The society is offering many award-winning irises and lots of new varieties with many unique colors to add new dimensions to your landscape. Society members will be on hand to assist you with all your iris questions.

Linn Mills writes a gardening column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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