Last weekend my husband and I took a drive out to Schwenksville, PA, to Ott’s Exotic Plants. We were looking for some flowers to plant, yes, and also for a low-key outing. We found both at this place.
Ott’s is a landmark of 60 years or so. At that time, this location was way far away out in the country, and yet they attracted business from all over because of their plant selection. I have seen the store many times. Bbefore we were married my husband lived a few miles from here, and also, it is right across the street from the Perkiomen Trail and near a major intersection.
But guess what, I have never stopped here to look around. So this is my first visit, probably 35 years+ after first setting eyes on it.
And, before I go any further, I must mention the Mum Mountain. According to this story from 2015 by a local TV station, the soil left from grading the parking lot formed a mound, and it became a tradition to plant it solid with chrysanthemums. As you may expect, it drew onlookers and is a local landmark.
You can read the story I mentioned or search the internet under the term Ott’s mum mountain and click into the Images section to see many years’ worth of mum mountain scenery. I am not sure they did it in fall 2020 or if they plan to continue the tradition going forward. The company doesn’t have a website and info is hard to get. Anyway, if you look to the left of this fairy-tale cottage entrance to the store, you see the edge of the “mountain”. Right now it has the carcasses of dead mum plants neatly arrayed in rows, from whenever the display was last done.
It’s not mum season. It is spring! And we are looking for color and brightness and new plant life. Let’s check out the place.
As you come in from the parking lot, you notice the domed greenhouse to the right. It’s an environment made just for people to wander into – nothing is for sale. My understanding is the building dates from the 1960’s.
Inside is a pond with fish, plants, and there is a walkway you can follow up and over the archway into the “selling” greenhouse.
As we stood looking at the fish, we noticed a cat come from above, work its way around the pond (ignoring the fish) and finally, lie on the railing, all the while paying us no attention.
Well, what do you know. And guess what, this is not the only cat we saw on the premises. Every single one of them was intent on its own business and ignoring the many customers.
Now I will show you the greenhouse.
Yes, it is enormous, and packed full of a variety of plants, flowers, small trees, herbs, cacti…you name it, I think you will find it here. We even saw a grapefruit tree high above us with a nice crop of fruit.
We had a wonderful time wandering the aisles, and we certainly found some flowers to take home. I don’t have words for how beautiful it was, so I will just show you the photos.
We paid for our plants and headed for the car through the outdoor display of pansies. I love pansies, but they are early spring flowers and I had not gotten here at the right time (to my way of thinking) to purchase them for home. Sure don’t mind looking at them, though.
What a rejuvenating experience this visit was. I will certainly return.
I am making a note of this place for next time we are in the market for plants. The overhaul of our landscaping is still malingering on our To Do list. My youngest son will be easy to drag along with the promise of potential cat encounters.
The place is full of things to do there even if the plants don’t excite you that much. And they have every kind of plant you might like to grow. I was attracted to the cacti but I’m not doing houseplants anymore (having just finally gotten rid of a lethal 2 + foot high cactus I bought as a 5 inch or so sprig back about 25 years ago. I need a rest). Anyway, lots to see here.
I absolutely love plants but I have no knack with anything that isn’t capable of looking after itself in the wild. I grew lots of heathers and other ground covering plants back home in Scotland, lots of lavender, and I had a herb garden. That and trees are about all I have had success with. It is actually cruel for me to buy house plants as they just die in my “care”. I need to do more with our property here but we keep going back and forth about major landscaping which leads to procrastination over planting.
I have done landscaping for 2 different houses and I am especially happy with our front yard, it looks like something I have always dreamed of having at my house. Having said that, I do not want to take on such a project again. In my next place, I hope to stick to flowers in pots.
You do have a very lovely outdoor space.
Thank you. This is our 3rd house in 35 years and by now we had the advantage of the mistakes we made at the other 2 places!
Yes, it was so much more than I had expected, for the size and the variety of flowers and plants. You didn’t know where to look first, you had to take it table by table.
That place is one gigantic work of *art.* Beautiful.
Yes. It was breathtaking. And everyone else but me seemed to be taking it in stride, just seardhing out plants and putting them in their little wagons. Although I may be wrong, there was one guy with a very professional looking camera there. Me, I was gasping and oohing and ahing. Anyway, you are right, it was like being inside a work of art.
I would be paralyzed with indecision. And cats and fish too! (K)
This place is one of those true individual visions come true, over decades, developing a personality in a way a chain never would, of course. I still can’t believe it’s taken me so long to go inside the door. It was a lot of pleasure and a real event to go there. And of course the flowers…you are right, almost overwhelming, and yet, if you take things one table at a time (go slowly) it’s arranged so that you can take in what you are seeing. I will be going back here all right, and soon.
I don’t blame you. I imagine each season has its personality as well.
I’m planning to check it out through the year. I will need some kind of flower or small plant, maybe even just for me, and I would love to see this place as it goes through the year.
And of course you will take photos and share them with us (I hope)
Yes. I will do so. I am sure I will have a lot to show, I remember the mum mountain and if they have that, well, it is one of those things that is very odd, but very beautiful. I still can’t believe I have never gone in here before though I’ve passed it over and over through the years.
That looks like a magical place to visit. I think $500 later I would get out of there – ha!
Believe me I understand. I will be back here and soon, I think. If for no other reason than just to enjoy the beauty.