Driving to Eunice to the backyard nursery of James and Linda Stelly, you have to look closely for a small sign off the highway that simply says “NURSERY”. Just down the road you know you have arrived when you see the fenced in, shady growing area full of plants. A multi-branched 6 ft mamou (Erythrina herbacea) plant displays the season’s red berries at the corner and as you turn to walk in the trellised, gated entrance, you see a mature Silver bell (Halesia diptera) under the pines. Across the street at their home, the front of their patio is lined with Indian pink (Spigelia marylandica), Buckeye (Aesculus parvia) and a large Native azalea (Rhododendron canescens) grows behind the patio. Inside the growing area, pots of Indian pink stand ready for pick up. A native plant lovers dream!
James Stelly started his nursery 40 years ago as a hobby growing non-native palms. On a walk in the woods near his house, he encountered a pretty little herbaceous plant he later identified as Indian pink. He brought a small division home and planted it by his patio where it expanded by divisions and self-seeded profusely over the years! The original stand is still growing in the woods, years later. He decided to grow this little beauty in pots and offer it for sale with his palms. Because the seeds are scattered away from the plant when the husk dries out, the seedlings were growing in his yard. He dug and potted these outliers from his lawn. When Diane Bullard found his ad in a local agriculture flyer, she called to share the news and I hurried over to pick up some plants for myself and ANPP. Mr. Stelly obviously enjoyed native plants and was interested in becoming a satellite grower for ANPP. We provided seeds and seedlings for him to grow at his nursery, and bought what he didn’t sell when the plants were ready. Beebalm (Mondarda fistulosa), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), Mamou (E. herbacea ), and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) flourished under his care. The couple has decided to close their nursery as the physical demands have become a burden. We thank you Mr. and Mrs. Stelly for propagating and selling these hard to find native plants!