By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – One, it’s good business strategy. “We use them for advertising,” said Pioneer Patio proprietor, “to pull people down the alley” – Pioneer Alley, where the back of Main Street buildings aren’t much of a draw.
Two, “it’s a labor of love, that’s for sure,” said Kathy, his wife and business partner.
Three, it’s become a perennial prize-winner in a competitive field.
When the Clark Foundation announced the winners of its 2020 Village Beautification Contest, last Thursday, Sept. 3, Pioneer Patio again took first place in Category One: “Most Attractive Floral Display in a Business Setting,” for the second time in two years. Last year, the Busses took an Honorable Mention.
“An impressive multi-level floral display utilizing a wide variety of plant material,” wrote the judges, Ron and Carol Bayzon, horticulturalists from Richfield Springs. “A lot of work.”
Other first-prize winners this year were Judy and Peter Henrici, 92½ Pioneer St., for “Most Effective Overall Planting Which Enhances a Residential Property.” And Barbara and Richard Havlik, 94 Fair St., for “Most Appropriate Residential or Business Window Box or Hanging Basket.”
“A lot of work”? And how, the Busses will tell you.
Each morning, Kathy takes the lead in dead-heading “hundreds of flowers,” Rich said. And then, daily, the plants are fully watered. (He doesn’t want to know how that affects his quarterly water bill.)
The Busses says the flowers are primarily “super petunias.” Meg Kennedy, who provides the flowers through her Ark Floral business, described them as “landscape petunias,” which keep “breaking out new from the center.”
All are annuals and, as it happens, Kennedy will soon begin ordering next year’s inventory, which will arrive next March, planted in her Mount Vision greenhouses, and be ready for delivery next May.
She has other Main Street customers on Cooperstown’s Main Street – Perry Ferrara’s Hard Ball Café, for instance, next to the Heroes of the Game Wax Museum, uses her flowers – but no one surpasses the Busses.
“Why do the Busses do so well?” she asked. “They start with great plants, then they take very good care of them.”
A few years ago, the Busses added mint to the mix, for practical purposes.
In August, the flies come out around here, Rich said, and mint deters them. Complaints about flies have dropped 85 percent since the mint was planted, he said.
The Busses, both born and raised in Cooperstown, trace their interest in flowers to their childhoods.
Kathy’s mom, Gloria Irving, a war bride from New Zealand, was active in the Lake & Valley Garden Club in the 1950s. Rich grew up on Brooklyn Avenue, where his parents always grew a garden.
The couple – at one point, they have operated as many as a half-dozen downtown establishments at one time – have owned the Pioneer Patio for 30 years, acquiring Obie’s, as it was originally known, from Don and Sharon Oberitter. The three Busse children grew up with the businesses.
Three years ago, they added a second floor, which also is a showplace for additional flowers.
And why not? “Flower are always a good idea,” said Meg Kennedy.