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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Mum's the Word

Published: Tuesday, October 07, 2008

By Lisa Vidaurri Bowling     THE NEWS HERALD


Carol and Walt Irodenko have 20 acres in Huron Township, all a part of the business, "Mum's the Word."

HURON TWP. — Carol and Walt Irodenko have lived for 32 years on property her grandparents once owned.   Their 20 acres of country living includes a home, a couple of greenhouses and a gift shop. It’s all part of a business called Mum’s The Word.   A love for fall flowers launched the home-based business 20 years ago. The husband-and-wife team own and operate a chrysanthe-mum farm and gift shop, 23665 Otter Road.

“I’ve always enjoyed mums, but it seemed liked every time I would buy them at different places, they wouldn’t last too long,” Carol Irodenko said. “So, I investigated and contacted a couple of companies that sold the cuttings. I found that growing them outside, they are more acclimated to the weather and it’s easier for them to come back the following year.”

The farm is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, and Irodenko, who has taken classes in floral design and master gardening, estimates that it offers about 70 varieties of the fall perennials.  Every year, some new ones are added and others are taken away.  This year, with the help of their daughter, Nadine, their son, Mark, and his wife, Carrie, and their 8-year-old daughter, Rachel, they planted 4,000 mums, about half the number they planted the year before.  Irodenko said she took into consideration the economy and decided to reduce this year’s crop in the event business was slow.

The farm began selling mums in the third week of August and will continue until the end of October. Irodenko estimates there are about 2,500 plants still available to purchase.  The mums are sold in containers or directly from the field.  “You can walk around and choose the plant you want,” Irodenko said. “I’ll dig it up and bag it for you to take home and plant it.” And, regardless of the size, all plants in the field are one price.  Popular colors with customers are yellow, orange and red, although the farm offers a wide variety.

Irodenko suggests planting mums in September or October so they can get established before the weather gets cold.  “I tell everyone to mulch them for the winter because that does help,” she said. “Fertilize in the spring. They should be OK until then. We constantly fertilize here to help them through the winter.  “Mums like full sun, and they don’t do well in clay. Clay acts like a bowl and holds the water. Proper drainage is important, otherwise they will wilt and look dead.”  In the spring, as the plants start to grow, Irodenko advises against cutting back until late June, but no later than July 4.  “You cut them back just once,” she said. “You’re cutting the buds and everything to about a foot. In that 12 inches, every leaf that you have a shoot will come out, and that’s what makes them stay short and stocky.  Otherwise, they’d get tall, lanky and top heavy.”  In addition to the flowers, the farm sells pumpkins, Indian corn stalks, bales of straw and seasonal decorations.

“We do three different sizes of bales of straw, and we decorate them with bows and other fall decorations, and that is very popular this year,” she said 75 percent of the business stems from repeat customers.  The business does advertise, though the majority of customers say they heard about the farm from someone they know.  “We’re in the phone book and we often get calls for flower arrangements for showers,”   With the help of her family, Irodenko runs a gift shop, offering custom-made floral arrangements and home accessories. She works with fresh and silk flowers.  The shop carries a large selection of Longaberger baskets, although it is not a distributor, and some Home Interiors products.

In about the third week in November, Christmas greenery, wreaths, grave crosses and holiday items are sold.  “What we do is unique and different from what you’ll find in stores,” Irodenko said. “We may make 10 swags, but each one will have its own uniqueness about it. One thing that’s really popular is a lighted grapevine tree. It’s nice for someone who doesn’t have a lot of room for a Christmas tree.”

Mum’s The Word is open for business from September through December, although customers can call anytime with a special request.  “If I’m home, the gift shop is open,” Irodenko said. “Many times, I get phone calls saying, ‘We’re having a shower and I need so many of this or so many of that. Can you do it?’ Yes, I can do it.”

Mum’s The Word

lLocation: 23665 Otter Road, Huron Township; 1-734-753-4121.

lOwners: Carol and Walt Irodenko of Huron Town-ship.

lYears in business: 20.

lServices: Chrysanthe-mum farm featuring seasonal decorations, items and a gift shop.

lHours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

lMethods of payment: Cash, check and credit.



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