Bounteous baskets

 Mike and Portia Cozzolino of Mike’s Hothouse and Country Store. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Mike and Portia Cozzolino of Mike’s Hothouse and Country Store. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Mike’s Hothouse and Country Store, the family-owned-and-operated nursery located on Route 44/55 in Gardiner, started out as a small one-greenhouse operation that evolved into a three-greenhouse retail and market business, as well as landscaping services and flower arrangements for weddings/funerals and special occasions.

Portia and Mike Cozzolino originally launched their greenhouse and landscaping business in 2000 when Portia’s father, the owner of Donato Farms, suggested that they bring their greenhouse to the farm near the road and start selling their plants and flowers.

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“We had this one greenhouse and a cash register inside of it,” recalls Portia, “but soon it just snowballed and we needed to expand. So we built two more greenhouses and then this market,” a traditional barn-red, Cape-styled roadside structure.

The greenhouses are a riot of color and smells, with everything from herbs to vegetable plants, annuals, perennials and hanging baskets whose blossoms spill over like a waterfall.

There are also trees and shrubs, rosebushes and everything that a gardener needs, from mulch and peat moss to topsoil and fertilizer.

Asked what they believe their signature is, Mike Cozzolino said, “We’re an old-fashioned Mom-and-Pop type business. We carry your flats to your car; we’ll order whatever you need; we’ll plant something that you request…”

“We even plant people’s pots for them that they bring us,” added Portia. “You can show us a picture of your home and garden, and we can suggest what might be the right plants or bushes to fill in the spaces. We treat our customers on a very personal level, whether they need a hand, an idea, have questions about what’s best to plant or grow or how to feed their plants and vegetables.”

Another thing that sets them apart is the size of some of their containers. “We use big pots, because it helps build a better root system for the plants. And our customers love it, because they feel like they’re getting the most for their money when they take this large, overflowing pot home,” said Portia, pointing to a tub of peppers. “The Ag and Market inspector told me that he never sees these sized pots being sold anymore.”

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