Mercer couple grow more than just herbs for sale

April 13, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - It would be fair to assume that a place called Good Thymes Garden raises and sells herbs.

It would be wrong to think that is the only product to come from the place on Dix Dam Road that is owned and operated by Don and Pat Isaman. While they sell several herbs, the iris patch has more varieties than any other part of the garden.

When Bloomfest 2004 opens at the end of this month, visitors will see some of the 78 varieties of iris in bloom. They will continue to bloom and can be seen through the second week of June. There are early, middle and late blooming iris. The bulk of them will be in bloom the middle two weeks of May, Pat Isaman said.

All 9,000 plants will be for sale, but customers won't be able to take their purchases home just yet.

"They can order what they see and like," Pat Isaman said last week.


After the blooms fade, the rhizomes will be dug up and divided and given to the customers that paid for them during Bloomfest. Isaman said even if all 9,000 plants are purchased, she and her husband will have enough plants to sell the next year.

"Each tuber multiplies 13-15 times," she said.

There are rows of iris plants that are just now beginning to show foliage through the ground, and all of the varieties are labeled, Isaman said. The iris plants cost between $4-$18. There are a few very rare varieties that cost $50 a plant.

They've lived on their 11.5-acre farm for 14 years

The Isamans have lived on their 11.5-acre farm within view of Kentucky Utilities' E.W. Brown electricity-generating plant for 14 years. Don Isaman is retired from Lexmark, and Pat Isaman is a retired respiratory therapist, but they've always gardened, she said.

They learned about gardening through the years from reading, watching other people garden and through their own experience. That experience is beginning to pay off in ways beside selling individual plants; they do landscaping, too. Last year they had three or four jobs in the fall and already are working on one in Lexington, the city in which they both grew up.

Also for sale at Good Thymes will be 50 varieties of daylilies, foxglove and herbs. There are literally thousands of herb seedlings, and because spring weather seemed to have arrived, the Isamans put the seedlings outside, but when winter returned for a few days with very cold mornings, they all had to be carried back into the propagation room in their garage.

The herbs are sold wholesale to 27 restaurants. The Isamans raise sage, basil, cilantro, oregano and, of course, thyme.

A few tulips and five varieties of narcissi decorate the front yard of the Isaman house, but they are not for sale, although Pat Isaman said they are considering selling narcissus bulbs next year. They have started growing peonies, and there are hostas growing around the house that will be sold in the fall.

"I usually have something blooming all summer," she said.

In the winter, she works on quilted wall hangings

In the winter, she works on quilted wall hangings that she sells at Bloomfest, craft shows and farmers' markets. Pat Isaman is member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and a juried member of Kentucky Crafted.

Tony Shirley, Mercer County extension agent for agriculture, credits the Isamans for helping begin and supporting the Mercer County Farmers' Market. "We were surprised we didn't have one in Mercer County," Pat Isaman said. They have attended all of the weekly organization meetings, she said.

The Mercer County market will be in the Hitachi Pavilion at Anderson-Dean Community Park and is scheduled to open the first week of May.

"It's great to have it out there," she said. They also participate in the farmers' market in Lexington, which opened last week.

The Isamans will sell oriental lilies, iris and daylilies at the markets, both as potted plants and as cut flowers. They raise a vegetable garden, but its produce is for the their consumption alone.

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