Mary McKay welcomes a customer to her new nursery in Patagonia. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

Local gardeners have a new source for seedlings, bedding plants, perennials, succulents, trees, gardening supplies and more right in downtown Patagonia. Mary and Kevin McKay recently opened Patagonia Plants at 308 Naugle Ave. and already have plants, soil, compost, and organic fertilizer available. 

Vegetable and herbs, as well as most of the flowering plants, are grown locally by Mary McKay in her greenhouse. The trees for sale are grown in Douglas, AZ, Green Valley, and Sahuarita. “I use as many local sources as I can,” she said. 

“This nursery is for the locals, for my community,” she said. “It’s really difficult for people to get plants that are suitable for our climate in this Sky Island area. Often vegetable plants at big box stores are timed for the warmer climates of Tucson or Nogales. By the time we can plant, they are often sold out.” 

She makes her own potting mix. The only chemical she uses is a slow-release fertilizer. She uses biological controls such as lacewing larva and ladybugs that she has encouraged to move in to her greenhouse by growing plants that attract them. In an effort to cut down on waste, McKay recycles and reuses plastic pots for her plants and has even made seedling pots from recycled PRT newspapers. 

The couple have plans to build a greenhouse and a shade structure. McKay envisions an inviting space with benches, water features and outdoor art created by local artisans. “I want to fill it with beautiful display gardens,” she said. 

McKay will take special orders and will be expanding her inventory to include more houseplants. They are also building a gift shop at the front of the nursery. Patagonia plants will be open year-round. At present the nursery is open Thursday through Saturday, 9a.m. – 2p.m.

During events, such as the Fall Festival, the McKays will also be selling smoked brisket, pork, and chicken at Jackrabbit Barbecue in front of the nursery. They are available for catering at larger events.

McKay has always had a love of gardening. “I’ve had a shovel in my hand since I was three or four,” she said. Her father, Richard Harris, Santa Cruz County agricultural extension agent for the U of A from 1973 until 1997, was responsible for planting at least 2000 trees in the County. 

McKay graduated from the U of A with a degree in plant sciences and studied landscape architecture in graduate school. She is available for garden and landscape consultations. 

For more information, call Mary McKay at 520-604-2540. Patagonia Plants is also on facebook, Instagram and google maps.