Meet the vendor: Parsons’ Gardens

Meet the vendor: Parsons’ Gardens
Posted on 06/12/2019
Jay Parsons with native plantsJay and Leah Parsons of Parsons’ Gardens in Olathe are both teachers — Jay a P.E. teacher and Leah a special education teacher. During the summer, they can be found working in their backyard planning, growing and cultivating native plants. Originally from Omaha, Jay grew and sold tomatoes and peppers at the farmers market there for six years before moving to the Kansas City area. 

Jay has a particular love for monarch butterflies, which undertake an astonishing migration from Mexico to Canada. He began to learn about the ideal native plant habitat to help conserve these once numerous butterflies, which are being threatened with extinction due to pesticides, development and climate change. 

Today, Jay and Leah grow 45 different types of native wildflowers and grasses to attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife. They don’t spray the plants with herbicides or pesticides. As Parsons’ Gardens, Jay sells native plants at area farmers markets and offers native landscaping consultation, design and installation services. Jay says his biggest challenge is that people don’t expect to find native plants at a farmers market. He finds himself educating people about the benefits of native plants one week, then after pondering it further, people return the next week ready to bring native plants into their yard. 

Native plants are adapted to the local soil and provide food and habitat for pollinators like bees, butterflies and birds. Native plants also require less maintenance, especially water. Jay has found that when you plant native plants, wildlife just starts to show up. He wishes people would take more time to consider whether what they plant in their yards will be beneficial for wildlife. 
Like most of our vendors this year, Parsons’ Gardens is a few weeks behind in growing due to the weather. Occasionally Jay brings caterpillars and chrysalises, and he’s been known to release a butterfly from the market. Look for Parsons’ Gardens at the Lenexa Farmers Market on Tuesdays through July 2. 

Need another incentive to go native with your landscaping? The City of Lenexa reimburses residents up to 75% of the cost for native plants through its Cost Share Program

Published June 12, 2019