By MARG JACKSON
Business is blooming at Morris Nursery in Riverbank.
A well-known full service nursery in the 209, owner Ron Hoffmann said March, April and May are the busiest months for the business, which is situated along Patterson Road (Highway 108) just west of Riverbank.
Hoffmann has been involved in the business for years, starting out as a ‘water boy’ while still in high school and climbing the ladder through multiple positions within the nursery industry before eventually purchasing Morris Nursery.
A graduate of Davis High School, Hoffmann also did some college classes at both Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus State, but said much of his ‘schooling’ came on the job.
He started his career working for Floyd and Betty Zaiger at Zaiger’s Nursery in Modesto, now Westurf Nursery. Originally interested in pursuing a career in mechanical engineering, Hoffmann said that career choice was left behind when he joined the FFA in high school.
“It changed my goals,” he said of his involvement in the agriculture-focused organization.
The nursery covers about 2½ acres along the highway and nearly two acres are covered with plants, trees, garden art, fountains and more. They also have an extensive gift shop with hard-to-find items.
“We carry a lot of unique things,” Hoffmann said.
It hasn’t always been an easy row to hoe in the nursery business, especially when people got used to “going to chain stores” for plant needs but Hoffmann said he is seeing a change.
“There’s such a move on now for people to grow their own food, they are realizing that fresh vegetables and fresh fruits are good for you,” Hoffmann said.
Morris Nursery is literally a ‘one stop shop’ for those needs, the owner added, with plenty of fruit trees and seeds for the garden available, as well as ornamental trees, flowers and plants to bring that needed curb appeal or to create a custom backyard oasis.
Offering garden and landscape design, master nursery professionals to answer all your questions and featuring classes on topics from planning a summer vegetable garden to orchid care, there are plenty of ways to learn and do at the shop.
Along with Hoffmann as the owner, the professional staff includes General Manager Dave Provost, Assistant Manager/Creative Design Director Cynthia Austin Tanis, Bedding Manger Jaci Ideus, Assistant Giftroom Manager Kathy Stepp and Horticulturist and Landscape Designer Jadwiga Hoffmann.
Ron Hoffmann served as manager at Morris Nursery for several years before purchasing the business from former owners Bill and Sharon Morris in 1996. He still leases the land from them. Along with the retail side of the nursery that Hoffmann purchased, there is also Morris Wholesale Nursery, which he doesn’t own, that deals more with landscape contractors and professional designers. It is adjacent to the retail store but is a separately owned business.
As far as the best part of the job?
“Dealing with the public,” Hoffmann said. “I like to solve problems people are having with their plant issues, I enjoy the blooming flowers and hummingbirds … our busy season started in January this year, that was earlier than normal because of the weather but typically March, April and May are our busiest. Also, October, November and December are busy because of Christmas.”
Morris Nursery is turned into a virtual Winter Wonderland for the holidays, making it very much a ‘must see’ on the holiday list with several rooms decorated for the winter season and Christmas.
Hoffmann said he and the staff at Morris Nursery take pride in being able to help customers with a variety of issues, concerns and projects. Whether it’s someone looking for help designing a small or large yard, getting answers on what plants will fare the best in the Central Valley summers or someone looking to get into gardening, the answers can be found.
“We get a lot of plant questions, bug problems, leaf problems,” Hoffman said. “We’re about to hit our daily full parking lot time.”
And staying busy is what makes Hoffmann and his staff the happiest, since they know they are helping meet a specific need for each customer that walks through their doors.
“To get good quality, come to a nursery where people know what they’re doing,” Hoffmann said.
Name of business:
1837 Patterson Road, Riverbank
Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.