For almost 17 years, Danna and Buddy Cook say they have been blessed by the number of people that visit their Philpot greenhouse, simply known as Cook’s Greenhouse. Buddy was a farmer and in 1992, Danna had an idea — to grow flowers for her father’s grocery store, Doodlebugs, in Knottsville.
“Dad always sold flowers at the store and the lady who he bought them from was retiring, so I planned to sell to him and Gordon’s True Value,” Danna said.
Without much to go on, Danna and Buddy jumped into the horticulture business. They bought the original suppliers pots, leftover trays and other supplies she was willing to part with and began looking at catalogs.
“We failed a lot, but that’s how we learned,” Danna said.
Danna said they learned what sprays to use as pesticides, what suppliers were the best to buy their plugs, cuttings and seeds from and, in the meantime, they kept growing their business. Literally.
The Cooks now have 20,000 square feet of greenhouses and each is filled with a variety of plants, perennials, annuals, tropical plants and vegetables. They keep two of the greenhouses heated through the winter, because, starting in September, 1,600 plugs of ferns are planted for the next season.
In October, Danna starts ordering from the many gardening and seed catalogs she gets in the mail.
“I order the faithful stuff and then I order new varieties because that is what people always ask about,” Danna said. “I am like a kid in a candy store and I just pray I have room for it all.”
Come January, they will work 50-60 hours a week on planting cuttings and cleaning up.
“We have over 2,000 geraniums alone and1,600 hanging baskets,” Buddy said.
With the popularity of raised beds and home gardens, the Cooks have several vegetables and fruits for sale as well, including heirloom tomato varieties not found at other nurseries.
“It is continuous seeding and sewing,” Buddy said.
Beginning in March, the Cooks work fifteen hour days and Buddy’s mom and Danna’s dad help, along with other family members, including their two daughters.
“We have it to ourselves until the end of February,” Danna said.
Their macho ferns are what attract people to their rural location, Danna said, because that variety takes the sun. She said that they have another variety that takes the sun well, and these open the door for other plants and flowers to be purchased.
Tropical plants are also available and can easily be grown in the hot sun. Danna said most people buy them to put around their pools or on full-sun patios.
Danna also orders heirloom roses that are more traditional and have a fragrance, something missing from knockout roses, although they do sell them as well.
“God help us if something happens to Danna,” Buddy joked. “The whole thing would fold if I had to do the ordering.”
Both agree that it takes a lot of time and a huge commitment to run a business that is only open for three months, but they feel blessed by the support they have received from Owensboro.
“You can have more than you can handle, and we aren’t there yet,” Danna said.
Cook’s Greenhouse opens the first Saturday in April. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except on Sundays they open at noon. They are located at 8950 State Route 762 in Philpot.