Edgerton father, daughters grow hanging baskets at greenhouse garden
EDGERTON—It's Edgerton's secret garden.
Tucked away at 709 Walker Way west of downtown sits an 18-acre piece dotted with green vines and petaled pompons.
Tim Clark enjoys working at his greenhouse nursery where he's able to watch two things grow: his flowers and his three daughters.
Clark calls it his “hobby gone wild.”
The Edgerton native decided to start growing a few trees and shrubs in the backyard one day in 1996. He developed a green thumb, and before he knew it, he was building a greenhouse.
“I started growing more and more and just kept adding to it,” he said.
He built the greenhouse to grow tobacco plants but got cold feet because he didn't think they'd turn out.
Instead, he started growing annuals. His year-round greenhouse soon became surrounded by 43 hoop houses, which are partially enclosed structures made from metal hoops covered in greenhouse plastic.
Today, Clark and his three daughters tend thousands of annual and perennial plants and flowers sold to local residents, area farmers markets and the city of Edgerton.
His daughters--Tatiana Carlson, 30; Tarah Clark, 21; and Tori Clark, 13--help their dad with daily watering, planting and potting.
“I never knew it would be this big,” Carlson said.
This year the family grew about 6,000 hanging baskets, Tim Clark said. They scaled back from last year's 8,000 baskets after having to throw out a lot, he said.
This year, they're just about gone as the season nears its end.
Edgerton locals might recognize Clark's baskets as the ones dangling from the arms of wagons stationed in the open lot near the Edgerton Teen Center on Fulton Street. Clark decided to bring his hanging baskets into better view because his greenhouse garden is so out of sight.
He brought out the wagons about three years ago. Sales are on a self-serving honor system. The baskets drop in price as the season goes on, starting at $20 and eventually falling to $5. This year, the wagon helped Clark sell about 2,000 baskets.
Janesville resident Ann Deltgen said she has 10 of Clark's plants this season. She doesn't buy hanging baskets from retail stores because they can't compare to Clark's flowers, she said.
“They just keep getting bigger and bigger. I'd recommend them to anyone,” Deltgen said.
The city has been buying flower baskets from Clark for three years. He supplies and tends 43 baskets that hang on the light posts along Fulton Street.
Clark recently stood next to a wagon lined with sprouting mums and broke clumps of dirt between his fingers as he talked about his milkweed project. Nearly 20 years after he got his gardening itch, he still talks about his plants with a passionate spirit.
His latest ambition is to grow milkweed—a tall plant that grows broad leaves, pods and clusters of flower heads.
He started growing milkweed after reading an article about how monarch butterflies depend on the plant.
“I hope people will want to buy them,” he said.
He and the daughters have plans to make signs at farmers markets to explain how milkweed helps the butterflies.
Clark's helping nature isn't just directed toward butterflies. He's also volunteered for the landscaping project at City Hall.
“They needed some help, so I decided to help them,” he said.
Clark's primary business includes drywall and landscaping services under Clark Companies.
His daughters spend nearly all day tending to plants.
Their helping hands are what make his greenhouse garden possible, Clark said.
“We couldn't do it without the help,” he said.
In his retirement, Clark plans to keep growing and maybe add a few high tunnel houses, which are used to extend the seasons for agricultural plants.
His daughters plan to help for as long as they can.
“I'd like to keep it in the family,” Clark said.