By Chelsea Royer
Tucked away in the curves of the East Satsop’s winding road is the hidden treasure of Juel’s Unique Nursery. After fourteen years of business, it has expanded to cover a full acre with many varieties of plants and green houses. One end of the nursery houses raised beds full of heathers, marigolds, and lavender. On the other, large greenhouses full of vegetables and exotic plants thrive. Whoever heard of a “fruit cocktail tree”? A plant that grows two different kinds of plums, peaches, and nectarines, all grafted into one trunk! In the largest greenhouse dwells a Clivia, which is a large, blooming houseplant native to places like South Africa and Swaziland.
How did the rural nursery come to house such a unique assortment? Juel Sanchez began her business from scratch. WIth no formal training, classes, or schooling, she decided to branch out from horse boarding and begin living off the land. An idea shaped into a business and even after fourteen years, Juel says she’s still learning, by attempting to grow what everyone insists will be a failure. “People said I couldn’t grow sweet potatoes. Last year I harvested 65 pounds of sweet potatoes,” Juel grins.
From lemon trees, to wasabi and exotic houseplants, Juel isn’t afraid to dive into something new. This year, the newest additions to the nursery are you-pick vegetable beds. “I hope it works,” she laughs. “Otherwise I’ll have a lot more vegetables to can this year.” Several raised beds are already sprouting green beans, broccoli, lettuce and more.
Juel’s Unique Nursery is expansive in that it supplies trees, shrubs, vegetable starts and berries as well as different types of flowers and succulents. Juel’s personal love and practice of homesteading overflows into her business to make the visiting experience one-of-a-kind. Beauty meets practicality and Juel is always eager to share the tricks of her trade.
Perhaps the best part about visiting Juel is her eagerness to show-and-tell. It is not arrogance that motivates her, merely a simple, passionate love for the outdoors and the things she grows in it. “My favorite aspect is teaching people, teaching them they can do this. As an example, you can grow a tomato plant (in Grays Harbor) and actually harvest tomatoes. The most important thing is not to give up. Some days are really tough, but you can get through it. No one succeeds the first time every time.”
Juel not only has a green thumb when it comes to plants, she also has a way with animals. Two farm-dogs trotted along beside us as we toured the property. Cows grazed in the field near the nursery and in a short walk from the house, I was able to meet the pigs and chickens.
Sustainable living is something Juel practices and encourages. It means long days and hard work, but at the end of the month, Juel will have only spent $40-$50 at the grocery store, including expenses for toiletries. Everything else she grows and preserves herself. To some, the work may appear mundane but, in reality, every action is an investment into the future. Juel’s business is a natural extension of what she has already implemented into her lifestyle and practices on a regular basis.
Juel’s sunny spot of earth boasts variety, beauty, and an opportunity to learn. She takes care of her customers and ensures her plants are strong and prepped to take home. Juel’s Nursery is more than just a store for plants, its an experience. Upon your visit, you may leave the nursery with an armload of plants, but not with disappointment.
350 East Satsop Road
Elma, WA 98541
Hours: February through October from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, 7 days a week