By Bonnie Gordon
Even when April days remain blustery, Los Alamos residents can be sure spring is just around the corner when Pajarito Greenhouse is once again open for business.
This year, the greenhouse will open Wednesday, April 25.
Pajarito Greenhouse is a department of CB FOX Department Store, but it’s located at the home of Anne and Dave Fox at 238 Rio Bravo in the Pajarito Acres section of White Rock.
For 17 years, the greenhouse has provided the community with well-rooted, hardy plants in pots, ready to go in the ground, plus gardening supplies.
There was a small greenhouse in place when the Fox family purchased their home from Karen Ames.
Dave Fox relied on a childhood friend for advise on how to run a greenhouse business, chalking up many hours on the phone before launching Pajarito Greenhouse.
Currently, the greenhouse occupies 3,600 square feet of display area.
“Word has gotten around and people start asking in January when the greenhouse will be open,” he said. “We start in mid-April because if we opened sooner, people would plant their annuals too soon and lose them.”
Fox credits concern for the customer and a thorough knowledge of local conditions with the success of Pajarito Greenhouse.
He calls the business a “Talking Greenhouse,” because the staff wants to educate gardeners on how to succeed in high desert conditions.
“Amending our local soil is a specialty. I’ve been gardening in Los Alamos for 32 years and I have a good handle on what it takes,” Fox said.
Choosing plants that thrive in local conditions is also important, he said.
“We carry lots of perennials that do well at our altitude and in our arid climate. We carry over 200 kinds of perennials,” Fox said. “We have so many kinds of penstemon, you can get all the color you want in one species. We have a lot of native dry land shrubs like apache plume and potentilla. We even have one really vigorously blooming shrub, prunas virginiana, that smells a little like honeysuckle and posole.”
The greenhouse also carries plants that take a little more work and a little more water, including lots of colorful annuals.
“The lowly petunia is still the number one selling plant,” he said.
The greenhouse also specializes in vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, spinach, lettuce and, of course, tomatoes.
“We do tomatoes really well,” Fox said. “We have both long season and short season varieties. You can grow 90-day tomatoes here if you start with larger plants. We have plants up to two feet tall.”
Herbs are another Pajarito Greenhouse specialty. Cilantro, basil, mints and five different kinds of culinary sage are among the offerings.
You don’t need a big yard, or any yard at all to get into gardening.
“A lot of people are gardening in pots these days,” Fox said. “We have potting soil that won’t turn into a brick in your pot, even in our climate. It’s easily usable for more than one season.”
The greenhouse offers incredible hanging baskets, all planted and ready to go. These have proved especially popular as Mothers’ Day gifts, Fox said.
Pajarito Greenhouse is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. June 17 is the last day of the season for the greenhouse.
Call the greenhouse at 672-3023. Visit Pajarito Greenhouse online and see a handy map to the greenhouse at www.cbfox.com.