HOPE — One of Hope’s longstanding and most well-known businesses, which closed last summer, will spring to life again March 11 under new ownership and familiar management.
Duck Creek Gardens and Elsbury’s Family Greenhouse will operate on the site of the former Elsbury’s Greenhouse, 5073 N. State Road 9, three miles south of Hope.
The business, which was a family-run greenhouse for almost 40 years, included a restaurant during the past two years when owned by Hope residents Brian and Kim McKinley.
Howard and Betsy Downey of Hope purchased the property from the McKinleys, including the greenhouses, retail building, 25 acres around the structures and the house at the end of the lane, where they will live.
The Downeys will manage the gardens, focusing on vegetables. Gordon and Nancy Elsbury, who owned and operated the business from 1973 to 2010, will return to manage the greenhouse with its assortment of flowers. The new business will not have a restaurant.
“We’ve always enjoyed gardening, and the location is right close to our family,” said Howard Downey, who has three brothers, three sisters and several nieces and nephews, many of whom live or farm in the area.
Betsy Downey, who spent 32 years as a nurse, said she loves gardening, cooking and canning, but she and her husband will be counting on the vast gardening experience of the Elsburys.
“We knew we didn’t have the resources and knowledge they have,” said Howard Downey, who asked the Elsburys to return to the business. The Elsburys had been working at the Flower and Herb Barn in Brown County.
Together, the Downeys and Elsburys plan to try some new ideas at the familiar Hope business that over the years has become well known across southern Indiana for its vegetables, herbs and flowers, including chrysanthemums in the fall and poinsettias in the winter.
The greenhouses already have rows of seedlings sprouting in planting trays, and purple, yellow and maroon pansies that are about to bloom.
Various vegetables, herbs, spring flowers, accent plants and hanging plants line the covered planting areas with name tags placed in each for easy inventory.
The Downeys and Elburys will spend the next week planting, cleaning, organizing and preparing the main retail area for the grand opening.
The Downeys also will sell garden seed, seed potatoes, sweet potato slips, onion sets and onion plants, plus packages of frozen beef from the farm of Howard Downey’s brother, Wayne Downey.
Betsy Downey has been busy preparing large planting boxes for vegetables to grow in the greenhouses, so customers can buy fresh produce.
In the fields surrounding the greenhouses, they plan to plant strawberries, raspberries and blackberries with hopes of having pick-your-own berry patches established by next year.
Howard Downey, an engineer who does contract work with Cummins Inc., has been planting these berries at his Hope residence for 25 years and looks forward to expanding his gardens.
The Downeys plan to focus on retail operations for starters but later might consider more wholesale business and sales of mums and poinsettias to organizations for fundraisers, depending on the interest.
“We’ll take it slow and see where it goes,” Howard Downey said.
Gordon Elsbury, who has known Howard Downey for about 46 years, said he was thrilled to return to the Hope business and hoped that customers will drive out to see the new operation.
“We’re striving to revive the place,” Gordon Elsbury said. “We’re ecstatic to be back doing what we love doing.”