HARVARD – Sitting atop 6.25 acres, the newly opened nursery Natives Haven offers its visitors a scenic alternative to traditional flower shopping.
Since buying the land in 2005, owner Bill Warzecha has transformed the Harvard property from a copious cornfield to a peaceful paradise. Natives Haven, which opened June 3, grants guests the unique opportunity to buy plants while submersing themselves in a serene environment.
“It makes me feel good to see people walking around and enjoying the feeling that we get when we walk around," Warzecha said.
Guests following the winding paths will discover native plants in formal beds as well as a wildflower prairie, among the property's many other features. Conveniently located chairs and benches encourage visitors to enjoy their time outdoors.
“It’s not like when you walk in a nursery, and there’s tables with flowers and plants," said Terrie Warzecha, Bill's wife. "It’s like you’re in somebody’s garden.”
The spark that ignited his passion was the idea to transform a sandbox at his previous residence into a pond, Bill Warzecha recalled. His enjoyment, along with a first-place recognition from Countryside in Crystal Lake, encouraged Bill Warzecha to pursue his new hobby.
Natives Haven is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.
Since retiring in 2015, Bill Warzecha now has more time to tend to his property, which is at 13809 Durkee Road.
“I can’t just sit around and do nothing. This is going to be my retirement gig,” Bill Warzecha said.
With more than 10,000 spring bulbs planted, 87 different wildflowers and 13 different grasses, every angle of the property offers a new opportunity for discovery. Bill Warzecha said the appearance of Natives Haven is ever-changing, with something new appearing every 10 to 15 days.
"All that I have to do is water. I don't have to fertilize and I definitely don't use any type of insecticides," Bill Warzecha said.
Instead of the conventional nursery style, guests may view potential purchases in formal beds as well as a native environment. Potted plants for sale are featured next to their planted counterparts, and may be picked up as guests peruse their options.
Since 2013, the native species featured at Natives Haven have not needed watering and their establishment has attracted various insects and birds to the property. Turtles can now be spotted inhabiting the ponds.
As the Warzechas looked back on their experience, Terrie Warzecha recalled that her husband mentioned the possibility of opening a nursery about 20 years ago.
“I was thinking, 'Wow, that sounds like a long time away,'" Terrie Warzecha said. "And here it is. We have it opened.”
For information about Natives Haven, including a list of plants for sale, visit www.nativeshaven.com/home.html.