Lotus Gardens Outdoor Living Center of FresnoAug 27, 2019 11:00AM ● By Melissa Mendonca
In Full Bloom
Story by Melissa Mendonca
Photos courtesy of Lotus Gardens Outdoor Living Center
AS HINTS OF FALL start to fill the air, and the first leaves begin to turn, make sure to savor the final blooms of your summer flowers this month. Come October, the advice from Diana Spino, co-owner of Lotus Gardens Outdoor Living Center of Fresno, is to get ruthless with the culling process if you want to have a glorious showing of fall and winter blooms.
“It’s our job to train everybody,” she says of the ideal planting times she'll share with her customers. “October is great because it’s the transition from spring and summer annuals to your fall and winter flowers. Get their feet in the ground in October. You’ve got to get them established so they’re pretty for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
While Diana is happy to share her knowledge, she’s quick to point out that her entire staff is able to answer just about any garden question a person might have. “We have a very knowledgeable staff,” she says. “We have an older staff, but with that comes a couple hundred years of combined experience. Most of my sales staff here in the retail section have over 20 years experience. They’re knowledgeable people.”
While the name Lotus Gardens has been around since 2009, Spino’s husband, Tom, has been in business much longer. “He started the business back in the ‘80s,” she says, noting that it was under the name Spino’s Landscaping. “We’ve been here for years.”
What sets the business apart is that most of what’s sold at the nursery is developed in house from seed or cuttings. “Ninety-nine percent of the time we grow our own plants, shrubs and trees,” says Spino. The grounds comprise 13 acres, with a couple devoted to retail and the rest holding cold frames and greenhouses for propagation.
Fall is a good time to plant pansies, snapdragons, calendula and poppies, says Spino, and “we grow all those right here on site.” The company also grows vegetable starts that are sold in other retail centers around the Central Valley each year. “To get from a seed to a plant takes quite some time,” she says.
“We’re out in the country. We’re on the outskirts of Fresno,” she says. “We’re a little bit of a drive for people.” What they’ll find, however, will be worth the effort. “It’s a pretty relaxing place to be. We have a chicken coop. We sell eggs. People like to come out and bring their kids to hang around the chickens.” Each summer, the nursery plants a large garden and sells the harvest. “We have a following here now of people who come in to get vegetables,” she says.
While Lotus Gardens staff can provide a wealth of knowledge for the do-it-yourself gardener, they also realize not everyone has the time, energy, interest or talent to take on big projects themselves. Lotus Gardens Landscapers is finding its niche in smaller commercial projects and homeowner remodels, a project they particularly love.
“We go in and do total remodels. Create a blank slate,” says Spino. Many people stay committed to their homes for decades, but need refreshers every so often. “Their homes are paid for. They aren’t going anywhere. They’re spending money on what they have. By hiring a licensed contractor, they’ve got a lot of knowledge behind what’s going in their yard.”
A project of particular pride for the business was the re-landscape of the William Saroyan House Museum in Fresno, which opened in August 2018.
Trending right now are succulent gardens, and Spino is thrilled by the new demographic they are bringing in. “Succulents are huge right now,” she says. “The neat thing right now is that we’re getting the young people into them. The millennials love succulents. They’re fun. They’re cool. They’re different looking.”
Whether you need a succulent garden, whole yard refresh, veggies, or are ready to plant a forest, the folks at Lotus Gardens are ready to help you do it right. They won't even mind if you just want to come hang out with the chickens, either. •
Lotus Gardens Outdoor Living Center
2271 N. Grantland Ave., Fresno • (559) 255-3311
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7:30 am-4 pm;
Sunday, 10 am-4 pm • www.lotusgardensfresno.com
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