Details for 5/12 Spotlight

Heirloom plants from the heirloom business Ray’s Quality Greenhouse remembers its roots Mother’s Day is a very special day for Sam and Donna Jones, owners of Ray’s Quality Greenhouse. It’s a time to reminisce about their humble beginnings and the importance of family. Donna’s parents, Ray and Edna Nykaza, began their humble business by selling produce in the early 1960s. “My parents were farmers,” Donna recalled. “They began with a small roadside stand in front of the house.” All the produce was grown by Ray and his sons and sold by Edna and Donna at the stand. After a few years, theNykaza’s added flowers to the stand. “Geraniums were their favorite and became their specialty,” Donna said. “They were well known in the area for high-quality geraniums. We had gardeners travel long distances to buy their plants here.” This year is no different. The Mother’s Day weekend is one of its busiest, as patrons from all over the Region shower Mom with flowers and plants. “We are open on Mother’s Day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.,” said Ray. “A lot of our customers come in on Sunday morning, so that their purchase is fresh and ready for show.” Specialty baskets are very popular for Mother’s Day, and Ray’s Quality Greenhouse has gorgeous 12-inch and combination baskets for Mom. “Our baskets are full of sunny spring and early summer blooms that look great,” Ray said. Over the years, Donna’s parents transformed the roadside stand into a greenhouse, adding many other types of flowers to the geraniums. “My parents had equal success with other flowers,” Donna said. “It was a combination of experience, education, and passion. They took a lot of pride in flowers that made customers say wow.” Sam and Donna purchased the greenhouse business from her parents in 2006. They still grow prime starters for customers who travel for their prized flowers. The duo has also added perennials and foliage from high-quality growers such as Proven Winners, Hort Couture, and Ball Seed. They carry a wide variety of sun and shade perennials, and many plants native to the area. Lovers of pollinators have found their go-to. Two master gardeners are on hand to answer your questions and help you design the garden of your dreams. The expert plant education at Ray’s is unmatched. Sam and Donna also offer customized planting service. Bring in your empty pots and prepared to be wowed by the finished product. “We built a ‘Wow Greenhouse,’ ” Sam said. “We display our most colorful flowers in an array that makes everyone who steps in say ‘wow.’ When regulars return, it’s usually the first thing they look for. We take a lot of pride in that.” The Wow Greenhouse shows how Sam and Donna view their business. They don’t focus on being the biggest greenhouse; instead, they emphasize quality products. Geraniums are still their pride and joy, and they carry varieties you won’t find elsewhere. Dahlias are another flower that Sam and Donna have perfected, offering many heirloom varieties. “We always remember our roots” is more than a catchy phrase at Ray’s. Edna, a spry 87, still comes in to help. She’s the expert at transplanting tomatoes, and customers keep her skills in high demand. “My mom has very fast fingers,” Donna said. “Her talent and passion are just as young as ever.” Before you head to Mom’s on Sunday, stop in at Ray’s Quality Greenhouse for a gift you’ll be proud to give. Ray’s Quality Greenhouse 117 E. 231st St. Steger, Ill. 312-608-7042 Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday • 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

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