Happy to Bring Work Home
Jan and Michael Turzian create their own garden sanctuary while building a thriving business
PHOTOGRAPHY Dev Khalsa
The chandelier in the Turzian-family gazebo was installed there after their daughter left for college and her parents borrowed it from her room.
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An old photograph of Jan and Michael Turzian’s home taken just after it was built reveals a barren, high-desert landscape of sagebrush and high grasses. Today, the Turzian home rests among stunning, vibrant gardens on the East Fork of the Big Wood River.
The colorful landscape reflects the homeowners’ passion for gardening, the growth of high-altitude gardening and, not coincidentally, the evolution of landscaping in the Wood River Valley.
From Ketchum’s Memory Park to hundreds of other properties, the Turzians have played an integral role in the changing landscape of the Valley.
Their story began more than 28 years ago, when the couple opened the Sun Valley Garden Center, the first full-service nursery in the Valley.
At the time, Jan was a waitress. Michael worked as a golf assistant, and they were happy. Still, after starting a life together, the couple looked at one another and said, “This isn’t going to work for raising a family.”
In 1980, with a budget of $5,000, they opened a full-service garden center in downtown Ketchum. As owners of a new venture in the Wood River Valley, the Turzians did whatever they had to do to make their business work. Jan worked at their garden center during the day and at what was then the Warm Springs Ranch Restaurant at night. Michael ran the grounds department for Sun Valley Company in the summer, worked on the Bald Mountain courtesy patrol during the winter, and moonlighted at the budding garden center.
“You would think [the Valley] was wooded forever, “ Michael says. In fact, the only indigenous trees to the Valley were the cottonwoods, a few aspens, and Douglas firs.
“It used to be that thousands of trees each year came into the Valley,” he recounts.
In 1988, the Turzians moved the Sun Valley Garden Center to Northwood Road in Ketchum. The facility featured a full-service nursery and retail store. Jan and Michael both worked fulltime at the business.
“That was the point in time that the whole garden thing started to take off,” Michael explains. All the young people had homes in the North Valley that they had just purchased. They wanted to add equity and fix them up. Gardening became a big hobby for everyone. We were lucky enough to have our garden center in place and enjoy those times.”
Business boomed and the Turzians opened an additional garden center in 1996 at the south end of the Valley, in Bellevue.
As their business flourished, so did their knowledge of the concept of high altitude gardening. When the Turzians purchased and started landscaping their East Fork lot, “aside from the cottonwoods on the river, we had only one tree on the property,” says Jan.
They were up for the challenge.
“I think Jan and I both have a passion for creating surroundings we love to live in,” Michael says. “You do wonderful projects for your customers, and you want to bring it home and bring it into your own life.”
After years of dedication, the couple’s passion and experience blooms throughout their property.
“Our neighbors thought we are crazy. They said, ‘This is what you do all day,’” Jan recalls.
The first project on their property, even before their home was built, was to plant an aspen tree. The tree was planted in memory of their late collie, Fargo, and was indicative of the tremendous work that would ensue.
“Over the years, we have changed our garden drastically,” Jan explains. >>>