In 1922, Bill and Rod Kelley started a nursery business in the Long Lake area.
On May 7, 2022, Kelley and Kelley Nursery will celebrate 100 years in business and staff invites the public to celebrate with them at their 100th Anniversary Open House at the old Kelley home grounds at 2325 Watertown Rd., in Long Lake.
The centennial celebration will have master gardeners on hand from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to answer any questions; and tours through the woodland garden, where tree trunks will be laden with garden art for sale, courtesy of artist B. Ryan. The Will Fraser Quartet will provide live music from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, the first 200 visitors will receive free tree seedlings. There will also be chances to win garden tools, plant-themed note cards and books for sale.
The 1920s wasn’t the best time to start a new business, but Rod - a landscape designer with degrees from the University of Minnesota and University of Massachusetts - and Bill - a land surveyor with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota - forged ahead as large estates around Lake Minnetonka still needed nursery services.
“It was kind of a depressed era to start a company, but this area had people coming out from the cities and building their estates. The Kelley’s kind of took advantage of that,” Steve Kelley, fourth generation owner of Kelley and Kelley Nursery, said.
Steve Kelley said those estates needed extensive landscaping with long, tree-lined driveways, formal gardes and orchards. This all required landscape work, which the Kelleys provided.
Over time, the nursery and services changed, but Kelley and Kelley Nursery was always there.
In 2022, Kelley and Kelley Nursery, has 12 employees and offers a variety of products and services at its Garden Center.
The Garden Center, located on Watertown Road in Long Lake, has display gardens with a number of different perennials. Steve Kelley said they grow their own perennials in raised beds. Their greenhouse also has a large selection of annuals. They also feature hundreds - if not thousands - of pieces of ironstone, glazed, and terra cotta pottery.
“We try to do things that are little unusual that people can’t find elsewhere because there are so many options like Home Depot or Walmart,” Steve Kelley said. “They can go anywhere and they don’t have come here, so we try to do things they can’t find elsewhere. It’s different than the usual garden center. People will come and spend hours here, just poking around. Its almost more of a social place than a garden center.”
The business also provides design, installation and maintenance of residential landscapes. Steve Kelley said they try to keep their designs relaxed and natural.
The Kelley and Kelley business has been a family affair for four generations with Steve Kelley taking over in 1992.
Steve, now 75 years old, isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon.
“I still can put in a day’s work,” Steve Kelley said. “I still love it. There is nothing else I would rather be doing, so why not stick with it?”
He and his wife, who is also a gardener, live across the street. They have no kids and no other Kelley’s are interested in the nursery business, so Steve Kelley doesn’t know what will happen with Kelley and Kelley Nursery in the future, but he is not worried about that.
“What’s going to happen to Kelley and Kelley?” Steve Kelley said. “I don’t know. I will worry about that when I’m on my death bed. It would be completely different if somebody else took it over.”
For now, Steve is enjoying the work and ready to celebrate 100 years on May 7.
“Its fun. I still enjoy it,” he said.