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For Minnesota's Cummings Greenhouse, it's one more season

DULUTH, Minn. - Even before she closed her greenhouse for the season last year, Barb Cummings put her 10-acre property up for sale, saying she would retire -- unless it didn't sell.

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Barb Cummings combines plants in cemetery baskets at her longtime business, Cummings Greenhouse in Duluth, on Thursday afternoon. She keeps detailed records of the cemetery arrangements she does for customers which she plants herself. She typically does 100 cemetery planters a year. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

DULUTH, Minn. - Even before she closed her greenhouse for the season last year, Barb Cummings put her 10-acre property up for sale, saying she would retire - unless it didn't sell.

It didn't.

So Cummings Greenhouse at 4112 W. Arrowhead Road is open again this year for its 49th year in business, much to the delight of her loyal customers who swear by her plants.

Harolyn Mageau of Duluth was driving by last week when - to her surprise - she noticed the greenhouse was open again.

"It put a smile on my face," she said. "I am glad she's open. I've had good luck with Cummings' plants. They're good plants."

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After taking down the Cummings Greenhouse sign that had stood along Arrowhead Road for years, it was back up the first weekend in May, open for business. Inside, the greenhouse had its usual offerings of annuals, bedding plants, vegetables, hanging baskets, herbs and potted arrangements.

There's plenty more in two off-limits greenhouses for replenishing the shelves. Outside, a growing line of customers' empty cemetery baskets await plantings which Cummings does herself. She usually does 100 of them each spring.

There has been buyer interest in the property which lists for $392,900 and includes a five-bedroom home, seven greenhouses and the seasonal business. A sale was in the works to a couple who wanted to carry on the greenhouse business, but that deal fell through. Some of the others who have expressed interest have other uses in mind, such as a boarding house for horticultural education.

With most of Cummings' former staff back, the seeding started as usual in February, followed by transplanting seedlings into packs and pots and caring for the plants. Among them is Evie Windus, 77, who was working the front desk last week.

"I love it, I love the place," said Windus, who has worked for Cummings for nearly 30 years. "I love doing the flowers and working with the girls."

Cummings will close as usual on June 15. She says most people have gotten their annuals by then. And it's what she always does.

She says it's been good to see her regular customers again.

"You miss people," she said. "You see people that didn't expect to see you again. Everybody is just really glad we're here. And that's a good thing. It makes you feel better."

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But this year may, indeed, be it. Now age 75, Cummings says it's a good point to truly retire.

"I do love it, but it's getting to be a lot," she said.

Related Topics: FLOWERS
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