Blue Sage Gardens opens in rural Hillman

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Open now, Blue Sage Gardens, south of Hillman on Sage Road, is the brainchild of Brenda Cheney and her husband Scott Gotvald. With a house full of children, the two decided it would be a great idea for Brenda to start her own business doing what she loves, gardening.

Blue Sage Gardens is opening this year on Sage Road south of Hillman. Owner and operator Brenda Cheney, along with her husband Scott Gotvald, have built a state-of-the-art greenhouse and it’s filled to the brim with annuals, perennials, vegetables, hanging baskets, shrubs and more. Pictured are (from left): Cheney holding her youngest daughter Leah and Aaron, age 3. At the right is one of many garden ornaments available at Blue Sage Gardens.

“It was getting too hard to keep up with everything,” said Cheney. “Life was a rat race. I was working six days a week with a two and a half hour commute each day. Someone else was raising my children.”

Cheney said that gardening is her passion, that she loves pulling weeds.

“It’s therapy for me,” she said. The greenhouse is a perfect fit for her.

Cheney has an associate of applied science degree in horticulture and has worked in the field for 13 years in Brainerd. For several of those years, she would go to people’s homes to take care of their yards.

“I did landscape maintenance,” she said. “I still do some of that, but to a lesser degree.”

The 30-foot by 48-foot greenhouse was erected just south of Scott and Brenda’s home in the fall of 2011. They first had built a smaller greenhouse, but quickly learned they needed more space. The smaller greenhouse is now Cheney’s work area.

Sage Road, or County Road 33, is a main thoroughfare for weekend travelers and Cheney hopes she gets many of those travelers to stop in and check out what she has.

Blue Sage Gardens is open seven days a week. Cheney said someone is home all the time now, so just stop in. If the gate is open, the greenhouse is open.

Cheney said they are starting small, but when one walks into the greenhouse, that’s hard to believe. It has thousands of plants. And the greenhouse itself looks bigger on the inside than when viewing it from afar.

Blue Sage Gardens will be selling annuals and perennials, vegetables, strawberries, hanging baskets, trees, shrubs and more. The greenhouse also has pottery and potting soil.

Cheney stressed that her greenhouse is chemical free. Partially because of the environment and partially because of her children, she is not using any herbicides or pesticides. She will also be offering for sale organic fertilizers and sprays.

With Mother’s Day coming up, Cheney is already filling hundreds of hanging baskets with an array of colorful flowers.

This fall, Cheney plans on adding a variety of mums for her customers.

The greenhouse actually had a test opening last Christmas. It sold trees and wreaths and Cheney said it went well for not doing any advertising.

“We are testing the market, and I will be taking lots of notes this year to learn what my customers want,” said Cheney. “So far, the feedback has been good.”

Brenda and Scott have seven children. Danielle is 20, Chris is 17, Elizabeth is 14, Katlyn is 4, Aaron is 3, Matthew is 2 and Leah is 3 months.