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Mulch Sales Help Nurseries Make Ends Meet

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DURHAM COUNTY, N.C. — With the hot, dry weather the Triangle has been experiencing, local nurseries report plant sales have been off.

Nursery workers are working to keep things green and to find ways to deal with less green coming into the business.

Many people are also putting off buying new plants because of outdoor watering restrictions.

However, the drought is not stopping Jennifer Cook, of Durham.

"Today I'm looking for some crepe myrtles. We want to put a crepe myrtle hedge between our house and the one next door," she said.

Cook believes she can work around the drought.

"No, it doesn't worry me. We use our fish tank water. I take buckets of water, so I don't use the hose to water my roses. Luckily, the rain has kept our trees alive," she said.

Chip Watkins of Redmill Nursery said most customers are looking for plants that do not need a lot of water.

"I tell folks, 'With time yes, but right off the bat no.' You can't put the plants in the ground and walk away,"he said.

As the drought worsens, Watkins watches his sales drop.

"Sales are off. Whenever we get the rains we get the highs, but then we have the valleys between. The valleys have been pretty extended lately, but all in all, sales are a little off," he said.

The nursery sells mulch year-round, and at a time when plants are not selling well, mulch sales help make ends meet.

"The mulch has been moving well," Watkins said. "We sell a lot of different mulches and that is something that can always be done year round. It does help us get through some of the slower times."

There is a silver lining for nurseries -- all the dead and dying plants in the area are a potential boon for the nursery business once the weather cooperates.

The nursery manager said smaller plants and shrubs can be planted successfully if there is water available. For trees, Watkins recommends waiting until November.


Dan Wilkinson, Reporter
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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