A Promise Made Twenty-Five Years Ago

Every spring the Nursery is buzzing with fun events and celebrations.  Primrose, the Nursery’s antique and gift shop located right across the courtyard from the Garden Store, is also humming with springtime cheer. We love seeing the familiar faces of our regular customers and enjoy welcoming new visitors to the shop.  Our Primrose staff fields many questions (ex. “where are the best tulip fields?” and “where’s your restroom?”), but the question we hear surprisingly often is this: “I never knew you had a gift shop. How long has this shop been here?” In anticipation of that question, we started doing the math and it turns out Primrose began 25 years ago!

In honor of her 25th anniversary, here’s a look back at the history and evolution of Primrose:

The Primrose space was originally a tractor garage. The Nursery’s owners, Bob and Margie Hart, drove their tractors right through what is now the entrance to the shop. The garage was built during the war when wood was scarce so Bob Hart’s dad handmade all the cement blocks for the space. The ‘Block House’ was completed in 1946.

In the 1980’s, John and Toni Christianson would take day trips to La Conner and stop at what was then Hart’s Nursery. On cold days, they would often find Bob and Margie in the front section of the tractor garage, sitting around a little wood stove having lunch with friends and employees.

In 1990, John and Toni made the life-changing decision to accept Bob and Margie’s suggestion that they purchase the Nursery. In those early years, Toni and her friend, Karen Anderson, began designing seasonal wedding flowers. In 1994, with the flower design business doing well, the Nursery opened a small gift shop and named it Primrose, with the tagline ‘A promise of the unexpected.’ The most logical place for the gift shop was in the front half of the tractor garage, still heated by that little wood stove. They kept the wood stove for heat but eventually, in 2000, the stove had to go because of the mess of the wood and soot. At that same time the wall that separated the space was removed, doubling the size of the shop. Eventually, the floral design business was phased out, but Primrose continued on, with Toni doing the gift and antique buying as well as the shop displays.

Today, the shop still has the original cement floor and most of the original windows and doors. It’s also filled with twinkle lights, chandeliers, and a dazzling and unexpected array of antiques and gift items, all thoughtfully selected and beautifully displayed. A couple years ago we also added a cash register to help make your gift (and plant) purchases more convenient.

Toni continues to do the antique buying but now enjoys sharing this role with Brenda, our merchandiser.  Eve, our shop manager, is the gift buyer, and Angie and Emma complete our staff. Together, the five make a great team.

When you visit the Nursery this spring be sure to swing into Primrose.  Seeing the shop today it’s hard to imagine that it was once a tractor garage with a little wood stove, and yet this unexpected setting has been a wonderful home for Primrose these past 25 years. It’s another example of how great things can grow from humble yet sturdy roots, especially when given years of loving care.