The business is packed with thriving plants, each one carefully tended daily by the Groundworks staff. The fruit trees and roses from Bailey's are the healthiest I've seen, and the prices were reasonable. Torula said the fruit trees are big sellers, and she treats them with an organic fungicide to keep problems at bay.
"The 'Easy Elegance' roses compete with the 'Knock-Out,'" Torula said. "The sales rep said that while they are guaranteed, the company rarely sees one returned."
Many Proven Winners shrubs, in full bloom right now, can be found around Groundworks, including hydrangeas 'Invincibelle Spirit,' 'Incrediball,' 'Cityline,' 'Mars' and 'Limelight.' There's Proven Winners' version of the "Endless Summer" hydrangeas -- 'Let's Dance' and 'Moonlight.' Also blooming are 'Sunshine Blue Caryopteris,' Buddleia 'Miss Ruby' and 'Miss Molly,' 'Lo & Behold' and hibiscuses 'Blue Satin' and 'Lavender Chiffon.'
The Ninebarks -- 'Summerwine' and 'Coppertina' -- are stunning, and Torula has several that are trimmed into standard form.
"Ninebarks have that drooping branch when they are mature, so I'm looking forward to seeing them as they mature in these standard forms," she said.
The center receives bare-root plants in February, and they pot them in a mix of 80 percent fine pine bark and 20 percent compost, shipped in from North Carolina. It's all hands on deck getting the young plants into pots and into the hoop houses to mature. They speak fondly of their loyal staff.
"We had a young man show up when he was 8 years old with his mother, and he said, 'I'm going to work here someday.' Well, he's worked here for six years now; he's 20, and in college at Concord," Torula said. "We're all family here. Two gals who work here are daughters of our farm partners. We've been referred to as 'Team Groundwork.'"
The couple is at home walking among the beautiful garden beds along the highway, teasing each other about different plantings and combinations. Her bumper sticker describes their philosophy: "Practice Random Acts of Gardening!"
They can't use the lower part of their land that spans the bank of the Greenbrier for business purposes because of the tenuous nature of the river's water levels.
"We have a picnic every July down there for staff and friends, but that's all we can use it for," Torula said.
The river and the road play an integral part in Groundworks' success, and Chris said the sounds from both play a part in their daily lives.
"In the early spring, you can hear that river, and, of course, you can hear the cars on the road. Then a train comes through, and wow! It's loud."
The couple agrees that the best sound, however, is the crunching of tires on the gravel parking lot in the spring signaling the beginning of growing season.
"Ahhh ... the sound of tires on gravel," Chris said with a laugh. "We like that sound."
Groundworks Nursery is located along W.Va. Route 3, in Hinton. For directions, visit www.groundworksnursery.com or call 304-466-4440.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.