It has taken longer than expected to get there, but Kalleco Nursery in Tillson is finally getting ready to cut the ribbon on its permanent headquarters building. Built over the winter, the all-new Garden Center at 801 Route 32 will have its Grand Opening on Thursday, May 18 beginning at 4:30 p.m. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served on the stone patio; a fire will be going in the firepit; experts in construction and landscaping will be on hand to answer your questions, offer advice and show you around. And everyone is invited. “I’m a fan of celebrating,” says Kalleco owner Mark Masseo. “It’s not about us; it’s about showing people our products and services — showing them how they can help themselves.”
The opening of the new 3,200-square-foot barn-style building — which houses retail space on the ground floor, storage and eventually offices upstairs — represents the culmination of a long journey for Masseo. He says that as far back as high school, he knew that he wanted to own a full-service greenhouse and garden center that could be a one-stop shop for homeowners, gardeners, do-it-yourselfers, weekend warriors and professional contractors alike. And now, after many years in the landscaping business and selling trees, shrubs and plants on the Tillson site since 2014, his dream is coming true.
In 2008, Vern Palmateer wanted to retire and sell his business on Mountain Rest Road, Ruslyn Nursery, and Masseo Landscaping was his biggest customer. Mark and his wife Bonnie, who teaches at New Paltz High School, had a one-year-old daughter and a son on the way; they had just built a house, and weren’t really looking to acquire another business at that moment. But, Mark relates, “No one else was stepping up to the plate. And it had everything we needed except location. So we agreed to purchase it.”
Then the US economy went into recession, and keeping both businesses afloat for the next few years was often a struggle. Meanwhile, Masseo was watching out for a new site to relocate the nursery — preferably Tillson or Rosendale, since he felt that New Paltz already had plenty of similar businesses. By 2013 he had discovered the 26-acre parcel for sale on Route 32, and found the local planning and zoning boards receptive to his idea. “Rosendale wanted something on 32 besides storage units,” he recalls. “They want to see things that create character in the community.”
Permits in hand, Masseo broke ground for Phase One of his new nursery in 2013, first building a greenhouse, then clearing several acres for display of trees and shrubs. “The following fall we put in electric and slowly started building the site…. We put in the bulk-bin material last year and started organizing things systematically.” Nowadays you can stroll around the grounds and check out the neat piles of mulches and topsoil and compost, as well as paving materials ranging in diameter from stone dust to river rock, plus bricks and stone pavers.
But now, right in the middle of all the outdoor displays, stands a two-story Garden Center, its insulation not yet fully installed, but ready for business during the next three seasons at least. Its construction reflects Masseo’s commitment to green building practices, with radiant heating built into the concrete floor, high-R-value thermopane windows and a rustic look achieved by the repurposing of salvaged barn siding, including a huge sales counter that the owner built himself.
Inside, and under the generous 14-foot-deep porch overhang that protects the entire perimeter of the building from the elements, you’ll find most anything you’d need for gardening and landscaping. Bags of grass seed, mulch and organic fertilizers are stacked high. One corner features landscape fabrics, glues and edgings for walks and patios; another drainage pipes, drip-irrigation hoses and any sort of hardware imaginable for redirecting stormwater; yet another seed-starting, potting and bird-feeding supplies. Take a walk around and your dreams of creating an “outdoor room” or two will be amply fed. Masseo believes in supporting other local businesses as well; many of his suppliers are based nearby, including copper rain gauges and pavers and other dressed-stone “hardscape” materials from Gardiner.
There’s more to come: Masseo plans to continue hosting educational workshops about such topics as how to use new sustainable building materials; best practices for stormwater management; what sort of trees to plant in whatever soil or light conditions you have…and so on. “We listen to what people want,” he says. “I’m a firm believer in continuing education.” Long-term, he’d like to build an elevated boardwalk trail through the unused acres of his property, to encourage “health and wellness.”
Meanwhile, the Kalleco Nursery Garden Center is getting ready for its Grand Opening. “We’ve been really busy. People say they’ve been watching this building go up all winter long. Everybody’s really excited about it.”