Green thumb

Published 3:47 pm Friday, February 11, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - As a little girl Patty Steinhauser would grow small plants on her bedroom window sill.
On Saturday she will be sharing her life-long passion for plants at Fernwood Nature Center, Niles, from 1:30 -3 p.m.
She will share her knowledge of a variety of plants and the horticulture industry at one of her favorite places.
Steinhauser will be introducing new and unusual varieties of plants out for the 2005 season. She will also be looking at some varieties of plants that haven't been so popular in the past few years, but are still great plants to incorporate in gardens and landscaping.
Steinhauser's knowledge of plants comes working with them her whole life and also from her college degree from Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill. in horticulture.
For the past 15 years, she and her husband Jay have owned Stonehouse Nursery in Berrien Springs.
The Steinhauser's chose to go into this type of business because it meshed well with the lifestyle they wanted. They wanted to be able to have a family and still do something they loved.
The nursery is a whole sale grower of 2 and 3 inch starter plants. They grow a variety of perennials, shrubs and grasses, and in turn supply other nurserys and landscape growers all over the country with these plants. These nurserys and growers then take these starter plants and move them to larger pots and use them to supply their customers.
Their nursery is situated on about five acres of land, and they have about 50,000 square feet of growing space under greenhouse roofs.
The plants are grown through a process of taking clippings from other larger plants and then dipping the portion where it was cut into a rooting hormone. The cutting is then planted into a small plug.
The plants are then tricked into rooting, when over a period of time they are misted with water on and off. In about 10 to 12 days depending on the variety of plants, the clipping will have rooted and are able to be transplanted to larger pots.
With their business they also enjoy giving back to their community. They both are quite active at Berrien Springs' Sylvester Elementary School, with its garden. "We helped to get the garden started, and play an active roll in maintaining it," said Steinhauser.
For anyone looking who is looking to get into gardening, Steinhauser has this advice.
Steinhauser added when taking a walk through gardens, see what you might be interested in, and through a combination of reading books and hands on experimentation you will begin to learn the craft of gardening.
The program Saturday at Fernwood cost $10 for members, and $12.50 for nonmembers.