PANAMA CITY BEACH — Plants bring people simple joy.
That’s what Ashley Daily believes, based on her observations of others and her own experiences in the garden.
Daily opened Blue Ming Garden, a Panama City Beach plant nursery, Monday morning on Back Beach Road. She hopes to fill a niche for area residents and visitors who prefer the intimacy of smaller nurseries and are in search of more exotic plant varieties.
“There is a cult following for this plant,” Daily said, as she pointed out the distinctive features of the Dutchman’s pipe, an exotic plant that resembles a pipe when it opens up.
Daily said she got interested in plants at an early age thanks to her mother, Sandy Pearson, who owns Zen Garden on Beckrich Road. She said she used to take the money she earned at Shuckums restaurant as a teenager and buy plants.
A former clothing designer, Daily said she lived in New Orleans for several years and was influenced by the city’s small gardens set up in courtyards between buildings.
“Not everyone wants to go into a gigantic nursery,” Daily said.
Blue Ming, which is located next to Fernleigh Antiques, measures about 800 square feet and features about 100 plant varieties.
If you have time stop in and say hi to the Fernleighs next door. I got a great antique desk there a couple of years ago. The desk was from a lumber ward near Green Bay, WI.
About half of Blue Ming’s plants are exotics, and Daily said she tried to get unusual plants that would serve as conversation pieces. She mentioned another plant, the red veined Parlor Maple, that looks like a hibiscus and does well in winter weather if planted properly. “Everybody that comes in goes to that plant,” Daily said.
Daily worked with her mother at Zen Garden before opening Blue Ming.
She said that, even though the businesses are separate entities, she will continue to work together with her mother. Blue Ming patrons can custom order plants, and Daily said she anticipated the custom orders would be a big part of her business.
Daily said that she planned to offer plant rentals in the future, after she had built up a bigger inventory. She will also offer landscaping services through the business.
Although she is pleased with her new business, Daily acknowledged she didn’t expect to open Blue Ming during a brief cold spell.
“My plants are not happy,” Daily said.
Blue Ming is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and is closed Sundays.