gardens-in-thyme-003By Jann Wiswall

It’s finally planting time in our region and now there’s a new greenhouse just minutes from Ellicottville that has a great selection of flowers and veggies to fill all of your pots and plots.

Gardens in Thyme is the brainchild of Ted and Florence “Punky” Nichols, who loved the idea of starting a nursery as a way to keep busy during their retirement years. Punky has worked in greenhouses during summers since she was a child and loves everything about the job, and Ted has a passion for gardening as well.

When Sinn Valley Gardens in Cattaraugus decided to close last year, the Nichols jumped at the opportunity to purchase their greenhouses and start their retirement jobs a little early. The unplanned result, however, is that they’re each working two jobs at the moment.

“It’s a little hectic right now,” said Punky, “but it’s worth it.”

Ted is scheduled to retire from his job as a lift operator with Fitzpatrick & Weller on July 19. This will mean that, instead of waking at 1 a.m. to water the thousands of plants and get to work by 4 a.m., he’ll be able to sleep in until 5 a.m. Punky hopes to retire from her job as a senior examiner for social services with the county within the next year.

This summer, the Nichols are fortunate to have a dedicated crew of family members and friends keeping the greenhouse staffed, stocked and organized while they’re at work.

During this first year of business, the greenhouse has an abundance of annual flowers, vegetable plants and hanging baskets for every garden. There’s also a limited supply of perennials.

“Perennials take a year to establish, so we’ll have a great supply next year,” explained Punky. “We’ll probably need another greenhouse for them.”

Business is getting stronger every week, Ted said. “Memorial Day weekend should be very busy now that the threat of frost is minimal.” And word is getting out about the new store.

“People have been coming in to take stock of our supply and promise they’ll be back — hopefully this weekend,” he said.

Plus, the Ellicottville Garden Club held a class there last week led by master gardener Nan Miller.

Gardens in Thyme is located at 5177 Baker Rd. in Little Valley. The new greenhouse, which opened April 26, is now open for the season from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. The Nichols also plan to open during selected holiday seasons, including Christmas and Easter.