I live in a little village a suburb of Albany, NY. I came up with this idea for a business, where I purchase multi family homes (that I rent to middle income people) with 5 or 10 acres of land I can grow plants on. To date we have three properties within 5 or 6 miles of each other.
I seek out plants that are of local interest but really only available mailorder. I have this saying "that if Home Depot has it we dont".
I started with Native Azaleas and Rhododendrons for the Albany, NY area; Pinxterbloom Azalea (R. periclymenoides) and Rosebay Rhododendron (R. maximum). I have a friend in TN that propagates these from seed (collected on the Appalachian Trail) in a greenhouse and sends them to me as tiny seedlings. We plant them in pine bark mulch in 1 gallon pots, making them available mailorder and locally. Back then my business was called Azalea House.
Next I looked for Roses that were locally hardy, disease resistant, vigorous and fragrant that I could easily grow without lots of chemicals. I bought them grafted on Rosa multiflora because roses on that root stock are guarenteed virus free. Every July I take heel cuttings and send them to another friend with a greenhouse in PA to root and keep for the winter. He returns them to me the following spring.
Rooted cuttings that I will grow for a couple years before I sell them. I will set their price based on pot size, how much I have had to pay, and how many of a variety I have (pictures are copied from the picture-newsletter).
I bought already rooted cuttings of Lilacs from propagation Nurseries all over the Northern USA and grew them into 3 gallon pots under drip line in our fields until they started to flower. Then I label each one with a locking name tag while it is flowering and transport it a few miles to our plant sale location (which is getting pretty crowded). We look for cuttings from Lilacs that either have double flowers or that have flowers that look purple even though they may actually be; magenta, lavender, violet or purple. Often when customers go to a Nursery looking for a "purple" they have one in mind they have seen along side the road. Other Nurseries show them the one variety they have but I can usually show them 14 different varieties many with somewhat different shades of "purple".
I buy Apple or Pear trees and train them to grow on wires like in a Vinyard. I choose varieties that I like, so at least if they dont sell, I will have their produce.
From this you may understand that I wont know what varieties I will be selling until they start to flower each year. And I dont always know what varieties of Lilac or Rose I am growing until they flower. When they do flower I add up how many of each variety I have and write the number and write the number on a colored dot attached to a sign with the variety name and description. A green dot is in a 7 gallon pot for $30. A blue dot usually shows a plant that is in a pot small enough to be sold mail order. I take a picture of the sign and place it on my web site next to a closeup picture of the flower. If you click the sign picture it opens a large enough picture you could save it as wallpaper, of the sign surrounded by all the plants of that variety. Inventory is a daily process where I take a small picture closeup of each sign with a date label that clearly shows we had this many plants of this variety as of this date. I only take a few pictures each day so some get passed over. If you ask me about a particular variety I will probably take a more recent picture.
'Painted Damask' Damask Old Garden Rose introduced in 1827, (zones 4 thru 9, 4'x7'), strongly fragrant it blooms for several weeks in late spring to early summer ( a red dot indicates its in a 25 gallon pot we usually use to take cuttings from but may sell for $100 each, you might be surprised how many of these fully established plants in 25 gallon pots we sell, but you have to load it yourself and these are heavy).
I walk around the nursery with a digital camera no matter what else I am doing. The pictures are saved into one of my "picture-newsletters". If I get a better picture closup of a flower I may take the picture and overwrite it into my catalog of plants as well. I comment between pictures in the newsletter about the price of things, historical context and more. I try to get potential customers to subscribe so they can be introduced to the intricacies of what I do.
Whenever I see a plant in bloom I attach a white locking label that identifies a plant that can now be sold. The label has a crop number (used when labeling cuttings), the variety name and the date the variety was first introduced.
I would like to buy a large Victorian house somewhere on a main route (maybe Western Avenue, Route 20), The outside would be restored. We would rent rooms in the upstairs similar to dorm rooms, you know a combination bedroom and private bath. Downstairs I'd hire an elderly, motherly type woman to take care of the kitchen and rule the premises like a Queen Mother. A large Solarium and enclosed porch would have booths for people who wished to come eat at the small buffet (but you could also buy individual menu items up to the maximum that would be the buffet price). And my plant sale would be arranged around the house in a 10 acre formal garden.
I dont have the money to do that yet but thats the dream.