If you enjoyed the botanical magic of Frances Burnett’s novel “The Secret Garden,” you’ll definitely want to carve out some time to visit Nature’s Harmony Nursery in Manns Harbor. Now in its 30th year of operation, Nature’s Harmony was founded by Sherry Foreman and her late husband, Ron. Previously they had been crabbers, but when an outboard motor broke down and the cost to replace it was $5,000, the couple thought investing that money in a greenhouse was more to their liking. Soon thereafter, the Foremans had an herb business up and running on Shipyard Road.
Over time the business expanded into a full-fledged nursery with a loyal following of local customers but Sherry says it wasn’t until 2020 that Nature’s Harmony really hit its full stride.
Turns out social distancing unleashed the inner gardener in many folks. With more leisure time people wanted to get outdoors and get their hands dirty. A Facebook group that Sherry and her team launched in February 2020 quickly grew in popularity. It became of hub for local gardeners as well as recent transplants from other hardiness zones eager to learn what would make it here in their new eastern North Carolina digs. Today, the forum, Nature’s Harmony Nursery for the Outer Banks Gardener, hosts nearly 2,500 members. In fact, Sherry’s favorite task these days is administering the Facebook group and posting new content.
Participants share plant photos and growing tips, pose questions about the viability of plants on the ocean side versus the sound side, and discuss deer, salt and drought resistance. And of course there’s the occassional gardening meme.
One group member recently shared her success incorporating black pepper into garden soil to deter bugs. Another member quizzed the group about what she could plant now that would be in full bloom when she marries outdoors this fall.
The Facebook group members also enjoy watching Daniel Lopez grow up before their very eyes. He’s a frequent and willing subject of Sherry’s impromptu live interviews. Daniel has an infectious smile, a joyful work ethic, and the kid’s got jokes too. Where did the bunny go for breakfast? IHOP.
The ladies of Nature’s Harmony are successfully cultivating community in the way gardeners know best: through propagation. And it’s through that power of sharing that business keeps blooming at Nature’s Harmony even as the pandemic begins to unwind itself from everyday life.
Don’t have a green thumb? No worries. Nature’s Harmony makes for a great field trip. There’s certainly no shortage of fresh air, fairy-like venues, and beautiful butterflies. If you enjoy photography and want a venue to hone new camera skills, there’s no place more rich in subject matter than the nursery. And then there is the awe inspiring Barbara, the crown jewel of the nursery. She’s a heat-loving Barbara Karst bougainvillea that in full bloom is the thing flower dreams are made of.
Nature’s Harmony is located at 8353 Shipyard Road in Manns Harbor. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday–Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
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