BeyondFountains (the blog)

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I have an apology to make. You see I recently realized that at one time or another during the past 16 years you entrusted us with your email address. You counted on us to write you and let you know what was going on at The Secret Garden. I was faithful. I wrote monthly. We had a good relationship you and I. But then I met a couple of new friends. They were cool and edgy and we started hanging out a lot. I don’t have to write them long letters, they don’t have time for that. Just a quick note or even a picture is enough. But over time I felt something was lacking and I realized I missed our lengthy correspondences. Facebook and Instagram are great, but a good letter really bares the soul and covers all the details doesn’t it? So here you go with a new email/blog post, after an unplanned absence, with all the juicy details. This summer has been a very busy one at the store.  Not just busy with customers but busy with renovation projects. After almost 9 years at our “new” location, we’re working to make the Secret Garden experience more comfortable for everyone. Khal us Krazy but we’ve been adding DG (decomposed granite) to over an acre of pathways throughout the garden. This is transforming the look of the store as well as making it more comfortable and more accessible for those with strollers or wheelchairs. The difference is remarkable and speaking as someone who was walking on those awful rocks every day, it has made a world of difference.  Have you strolled through the nursery lately? Newcomers to the store don’t even realize that we only started carrying plants 4 years ago. Khal us Krazy that we launched the new nursery during the drought years! But it was because of the drought and a belief that we should all be growing more sustainable plants in our landscaping that we focused on succulents, cacti and drought tolerant perennials. That decision has led us to where we are today. A destination nursery that draws succulent fans from hundreds of miles to shop our vast selection. If you haven’t been in for a while, Fall Garden Faire & Plant Sale (Sept 15/16) might be a good time to visit. All plants will be 15% off and Fall is a great time to plant. The cooler temperatures allow the plants to establish healthy root systems before the onslaught of Sacramento’s summer heat.  Pssst....I’ll let you in on a secret because we’re old friends.....we’ve got some exciting new growth planned for this nursery department in the coming year. (Pun intended!) The great Maya Angelou wrote “When you learn, teach.” Following that sentiment, we have continued to expand our workshop series. Last year we hired and trained two “outside presenters” who have been teaching our succulent workshops in breweries and wineries from here to Lodi. It’s a great program for us, as we get to meet people who may have never even been in the store ... YET! It’s also a great program for you too, as succulents go beautifully with a cold beer and/or a great glass of wine! Our in-store workshops are also still in full swing and there is always something fun to learn and do, from mosaic work to mandala rock painting and everything in between. So if you don’t use Facebook or Instagram where these classes are regularly posted, be sure to check out the website regularly to see what classes we have scheduled. So that’s it for now. This next month will be busy with workshops, Garden Faire, and we’re even throwing our daughter’s wedding reception out in the garden in October! Khal Us Krazy! Thank you for being you, Jennifer & Victor Khal The Secret Garden
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Sunday Morning, April 15 - This morning before work I was feeling extremely pensive. I was thinking back to when we were first opening The Secret Garden in early 2002 and our son (only 9 at the time) wanted to know how we were going to make a living selling things nobody needed. (He always was an intelligent and thoughtful child and I'm sure we'd had many a discussion explaining the difference between needing and wanting). And then my brain fast forwarded to the past few weeks when I've watched our store come alive with Spring color and with the heavy traffic of people through our gates. I'm specifically remembering the lady who came in this last week to find a little something to celebrate her "cancer free" diagnosis just that morning. She said she knew she had to come here. Then there was the man who came in because he was missing his late wife and he wanted to walk through her favorite store to "feel her here". I'm remembering the young couple that got engaged during one of our succulent events because that's her favorite hobby. I'm thinking of the daughter, the mom and the grandmother who came in to have a playdate together at one of our workshops. These customers come to The Secret Garden because it a place of beauty, of nurturing, of positive energy that they need at that moment.  So all this to say, that I'm feeling grateful that we have indeed created a business that does have something that people NEED. I'm thankful to my husband who works tirelessly beside me to maintain it. I'm thankful to our amazing team of employees who strive to deliver that extra something special every day. And I'm thankful to our clientele for continuing to support us. Our motto has always been "So Much More Than a Garden Store" and I'm feeling this morning that we've lived up to that.  Thanks for letting me ramble.... jennifer
As small business owners there is no shortage of grand ideas and plans. Trust me when I tell you that my lists have lists. It's true. Ask anyone who knows me and they will attest to me always having a notebook and a pen in hand, adding to or crossing off my list du jour. I'm lucky in that I get to do this business with my husband of 34 years. Call us crazy, but it works. One of the things that helps in deciding which ideas to pursue and which to leave on the drawing table is to ask three questions - What? How? and Why? It's actually a terrific method for deciding lots of things, both personal and professional. Take our decision to offer our already very successful in-house workshop series out on the road.  What? Offer our attendees an opportunity to learn something new, make something fun and enjoy food and adult beverage at the same time. How? It seemed rather a natural to partner up with other local business owners to the benefit of both businesses. We offer our customers an opportunity to be entertained and engaged in an activity while enjoying a cocktail and maybe a bite to eat. The food and beverage venue gets new clients who may have not otherwise frequented their establishment. Why? This is where the answers get longer because there are just so many "why"s! 1) How many times have you looked at your partner and discussed "doing something" but didn't just want to go to a movie or out to dinner again. Our workshops have always offered something new to do, but by taking them out on the road, our attendees can enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine at the same time. Couples can hang out and experience a grown up "play date". 2) Partnering with other small businesses is for the common good. We have always had a philosophy at The Secret Garden to join up with others whenever possible. If we don't all stick together and help each other out, who will?  If small business doesn't succeed, then all we're all left with is Costco, Walmart and the likes. And while my family will certainly no doubt shop at both of those places several times this year, is that the only choice I want? Definitely NOT! 3) Being around plants is healing. Literally. Science has proven again and again that just having your hands in the soil is actually beneficial for your health. Having plants in your life reduces stress, improves your air quality, helps you sleep better, improves concentration, etc etc etc. Now I know these facts already and well, let's just say that the last time I watered my houseplants I counted 42!  Maya Angelou was quoted as saying "When you get, give. When you learn, teach". I take that second part quite seriously. By taking our workshops on the road, we will be reaching more people. By making the workshops fun and engaging (with a nice cold beer) we'll get some involved that otherwise wouldn't have attended. By helping people learn more about plants and how to care for them properly, then they can be successful in caring for their plants. Then maybe they will continue to expand their knowledge and in turn help others see the value and importance of having plants in their lives. I know it's a lot. But that's the major "Why". Because Plants Heal and because I'm saddened every time I hear someone say "I have a black thumb and I can't keep anything alive". So we're taking our show on the road, as they say. Terrarium Nites and Suds & Succulents events will be popping up in restaurants, breweries and wineries near you. So keep your eyes open and watch us bring "plant shenanigans"** to people all over town.   See you soon, Jennifer ** fabulous term borrowed from my friend Warren Keller at Warrens Garden in Lompoc.

The Secret Garden

8450 West Stockton Blvd
Elk Grove, CA 95758

Phone: 916-682-6839








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