A Place To Find The Unusual

by | Apr 27, 2016 | 5 comments

I have been going to Graye’s Greenhouse for many, many years. I go there to find the unusual, the unexpected, the houseplants I can’t live without. I also love to visit with the owners. Graye’s is known for its succulents, unusual geraniums, and truly miniature houseplants; many not easy to find.

A little history

A couple of days ago I stopped by and talked to Joe Graye about the history of the greenhouse. His grandfather Alexander Wnuk bought the land in approximately 1918 and its first use was as a truck farm, growing vegetables to take to the farmer’s markets. They went to three markets including Eastern Market in Detroit.

Greenhouse built

In 1928, the current greenhouses were built and in the mid-1930s the focus changed from vegetables to flowers. He grew cyclamen, cineraria, mums, lilies, gladiola, and other plants that he sold to florists in Detroit. Joe told me it takes 1 1/2 years to grow cyclamen from seed to sale size. Wow! In 1945 Joe’s parents Sylvia and Joe, Sr., bought the business from Sylvia’s father. Today their children Alyce, Joe Jr., and Mary Ann own the business. Mary Ann lives in Dundee and has a flower farm, selling at the Toledo markets. The love of plants really runs in the family.

70s houseplant craze

In the ’70s the houseplant craze kept them busy and today they grow unusual houseplants, veggies, and annuals.


Inside the greenhouse

When you walk in, you are greeted by a beautiful Koi pond and waterfall that is surrounded and filled with flowers and plants. Continue on, walking under the passion vine that has been growing there as long as I can remember. As you can see from the pictures, the floor is still just a dirt floor. It adds to the ambiance.

aisles full of plants

New plants growing on the dirt floors of Graye’s

Plants growing on benches -Love the dirt floors!

Checkout area

My plants boxed up

Sign at Graye's

Love this sign at Graye’s Greenhouse!

Almost a century-old

This independent garden center owned by the same family for almost 100 years is a great testament to the endurance and love of plants many families still have here in Michigan. I love this greenhouse and want to see it continue on for many years to come. If you live in SE Michigan, make sure you visit this small business in Plymouth.

Do you have a small garden center in your area you visit often? Tell me about it in the comments below.


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  1. Don Miller

    The Root System Nursery in Jonesville carries an exceptional assortment of well- grown cacti and succulents. It’s definitely worth visiting. It’s at 4840 E. Chicago Rd (rte 12) just about 6 miles east of Jonesville. The url is http://www.pricksnstones.com. As long as one is heading west on 12, stop off at Hidden Lake Gardens. JOhn and Kathy from Root System have provided a number of cacti and succulents to the reinvigorated succulent garden in the Hidden Lake conservatory. One word of caution. If the Michigan Speedway is having an event, be careful. The traffic will be very heavy.
    Another place to visit although farther away is Baker’s Acres greenhouses in Alexandria, Ohio. If you’re into Coleus or begonias this is definitely the place to visit. They have a fine variety of all manner of garden plants also.

    • thehouseplantguru.com

      Don, thanks for the comments. John and Kathy have parted ways, and I’m not sure what the outcome of the business is. I love Baker’s Acres! The owners, Chris and Nancy are the BEST! Julia and I are definitely coming to see you soon.

  2. Tony

    I’d have to say that I have three. One local, one not quite as local, and one that’s a short day trip.
    The local one is Baker’s Acres in Alexandria, Ohio. Always good for something new every year, as well as very good quality.
    The not quite as local is the Delaware, Ohio outpost of Oakland Nursery. A local ‘chain’ with 4 units, each one is run differently. This unit and the original are my favorites. I’m an Aroid/Gesneriad person and these two always have something for me.
    My third is my all time favorite. GlassHouse Works in Athens, Ohio.I started following them in the 80’s while I was still in high school and received a black and white catalog (no pics!) from them. I left the hobby for some years, but when I got back into it my friend and I found out that they were still going and headed down. Over the years I became friendly with Ken and Tom and we always had a good laugh when I went down. With Tom’s passing, I wondered if Ken would keep it going, but, luckily for me, and for the hobby as a whole, he has. The information/experience at GlassHouse is just outstanding.We’ve begun taking new plants we find in our forays down to Ken when we go. Last time I took him some cuttings of a Philodendron hederaceum he’d never had ( and one that I’ve only ever found one of!). The man’s eyes lit up as he looked the cuttings over. A little later he brought me a pot of one I didn’t have and insisted on a trade. Here in a few weeks I’m taking a new friend down that I met at a plant sale to introduce her to my plant Meca.

    • thehouseplantguru.com

      I LOVE Baker’s Acres! Chris and Nancy are the best! I also love Oakland Nursery in Delaware and Glasshouse Works. When I visited Glasshouse works many years ago, the bathroom was my first stop, of course. There was a BAT in the bathroom. But, no problem, I had to go. Lol You have good taste! Thanks for your comments.

  3. Beth

    Nice story about a local greenhouse family! -Beth


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