Loving to grow

Bill Hayes/Love to Grow Nursery

It`s a little pocket of greenery, an unpainted fence, a worn driveway leading off the west side of Boulder’s North Broadway, up a slope to a strip of scruffy industrial buildings.

But don’t drive that far, or you’ll miss it. Which would be a shame, since the I Love to Grow plant nursery is a multi-tiered oasis in the rapidly developing neighborhood known as NoBo.

“Flower power” here is not just a reference to the Colorado-hardy plants for sale, it’s a metaphor.

“Flowers have a lot of beauty, but not a lot of ego,” explains Bill Hayes, who owns the place with sons Stephen and Jonathan. “People are as varied as flowers, and what we do is help them learn to work harmoniously together.”

For years, Hayes has had a studio in the industrial strip in back of the nursery. He works with musicians and other artists there as well, recording and promoting. Having embraced the “back to the Earth” movement of the 1970s, Hayes says he raised his family with home-grown produce on the table.

So he was drawn to the little nursery fronting the lot on North Broadway, befriending and helping out the owner, Paul Balbin. When Balbin retired a couple of years ago, it seemed the natural move for Hayes to take over. But it wasn’t only plants that he had visions of nurturing.

“The studio is fun, but it’s all indoors. I have a lot of musician and artist friends,” he says. “I had an idea for an artist collective with a garden environment where we could all meet, market our wares, build some community.”

I Love to Grow officially opened about a year ago. C.J. Jorgensen was hoping to form a band when a mutual friend introduced her to Hayes. With his encouragement, she wound up going solo as a professional musician and is now helping run the nursery.

On a recent tour, Jorgensen pointed out the fence made of recycled wood, the plant shelves built of repurposed pipe, and the dining area furnished with discarded patio sets.

“We take people’s unwanted plastic plant containers and reuse them,” she says. “And we’re a drop-off site for CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] shares. We’re looking at solar power, maybe in the future.”

The place is irrigated with water from the nearby Silver Lake ditch, stored in tanks. A wooden bridge over the ditch leads to an area reserved for the natural fertilizers and amended soil soon to be offered. More high-elevation and edible plants are also planned.

As for the non-plant part of the enterprise, starting on July 4 the nursery became one of the First Fridays venues for NoBo Nights Out — community evening events featuring crafts, art, live music and food.

Rental space is available, and the establishment can be used for private events.

“Flower power,” after all, is more than just an old hippie slogan.

“Life’s a canvas,” Hayes says.

“What colors do you want to paint on it?”

I Love to Grow
4715 Broadway, Boulder, (303) 736-9508, http://www.ilovetogrow.com/

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