About Us – Edenvale Nursery

MANKATO — In 1976, Jim and Betty Koberoski put everything they had into a 5-acre soybean field on Highway 22 South of Mankato.

With hard work, a strong faith, and good help, the Koberoskis turned that soybean field into the successful Edenvale Nursery and a family home for their five children.

“Things weren’t always roses. We worked and worked,” Betty said.

At age 68, Betty walks quickly through the grounds to assist customers, lead tours of school children and garden clubs, instruct employees or check on stock. In her candy dish, she keeps carrots to snack on for “vim and vigor.”

At age 71, Jim works quietly at his own pace. He had the patience to transform the field into a show garden one plant and tree at a time. He is the mastermind behind Edenvale’s meandering paths and charming gardens.

“This is what my dream was — exactly what I have now,” said Jim.

Edenvale is open from April through October and employs about 15 people during the height of the season.

“There is nothing better than to spend the day in nature. We get to stop and smell the roses every day,” said Juli Blaine, who has been working at Edenvale for eight years.

The job is also physically demanding: potting plants, trees and shrubs; unloading semis of nursery stock; arranging displays; and selling all season long. They’re on their feet all day rain or shine, helping customers and tending plants.

“When I come in, I’m tired, dirty and hungry,” Betty said.

Roots

Betty, the third oldest of 13 children, grew up on a farm near Minnesota Lake. She met Jim while working as a nanny and attending Mankato State College. On her way to school, Betty passed Loomis Nursery in Mankato.

Jim’s father owned Loomis Nursery, so Jim grew up working in landscaping. His brother Dick Koberoski owns Kobers Nursery in Mankato. The close-knit brothers are friendly competitors. 

Betty and Jim married in 1963, went to California for their honeymoon and lived there for 13 years. Betty taught school and Jim worked as a laborer. While home for a visit, the couple put a down payment on the land.

Jim planted four Siberian arborvitae shrubs to mark a square and put up a white picket fence. Inside that square were all the trees, shrubs and plants for sale. Betty set up a card table and cigar box for purchases.

“We started out small and I grew into it,” Betty said.

Showplace

Gardeners make a pilgrimage every summer to Edenvale Nursery, and it has become a popular site for graduation and wedding photos.

One busy Mother’s Day, Betty asked an elderly lady if she needed help. The woman replied, “’Honey, don’t you worry about me. I write poetry and come out here to gather my thoughts.’” 

A row of towering arborvitae provides a backdrop and castle-like atmosphere to the landscape. Jim and Betty had planned to repot them to sell, but they got too busy and the shrubs grew up instead.

Today, the Koberoskis order most of their stock from wholesalers that can provide the best trees, shrubs and plants.

“Jim makes the place

beautiful for us girls to sell,” Betty said.

Gazebos, a waterfall, a grape arbor, trellises teeming with flowering vines, and paths beckon visitors to hidden gardens. A playground for the kids, wicker furniture and wooden gliders invite people to relax and enjoy.

Quality and service

To compete with the big-box stores and seasonal greenhouses in town, Edenvale carved a niche by selling top-quality plants, trees and shrubs, as well as new and unusual plants.

“We’re known for weird and wonderful things. We’re known for the unique and unusual not found in the big-box stores,” Betty said.
By Marie Wood 
Special to The Free Press