By: Gina Lanaux

I know a woman who rides a Softail Harley, races a 22’ Lindenberg, is the Alabama Master of Shorinji Kempo with a 4th-degree black belt and is also a fairy, a plant fairy. She is a plant fairy because she can magically grow anything: ageratum, begonia, coreopsis, and that's only the first of the plant alphabet. Terri Loftin is her name, and is one of the hardest-working, toughest girls I know. I have the privilege of seeing her in action at her nursery in Fairhope, where I sometimes work for her. 

The Plant Fairie differs from most retail nurseries or plant stores because Terri grows almost everything she sells through propagation. Starting from seed or cuttings from a mother plant, the baby plants are nurtured under grow lights and tenderly misted with water until they are big enough to be potted into a 6-inch pot and then stepped up to a gallon size. (my job) She has two large greenhouses overflowing with houseplants, succulents, perennials, annuals, plants that volunteer from under the tables, tropical vines that climb all over structures, and even more blooming plants outside in the sunshine. 

Terri calls her business a plant factory, and it is one of those places where plant lovers can wander, look, question, and find treasured plants. She has so many plants that we sometimes laugh when customers ask, “What color is the bloom?” and we look it up on our plant ID app to find the answer. Customers love coming to visit with Terri because she is laid back, and knowledgable and her prices are the best, because she doesn't buy and re-sell. 

She grew up in Bay Minette, got her associate's degree at SouthWest State (now Bishop State), and went to work for the Corps of Engineers, eventually becoming a draftsman in a civil engineering company. “I liked the landscape designer’s job of making the blueprints come alive,“ she said. She then went to Auburn to major in Horticulture. 

After years of working in landscaping and plant nurseries, in 1997, she decided she wanted to open her own landscape business. While waiting on licensure, she met her mentor, Bruce Brakin, who was with the Department of Agriculture as a nursery inspector. He told her not to be a landscaper but to open a nursery and he took her by the hand and taught her everything she needed to do to make it happen. 

She had a place in Barnwell from 1997 to 2001 and then took a break to raise two boys. In 2012, Terri opened the Plant Fairie, on Jubilee Trail, just off Gayfer extension, in Fairhope. It's the first left after you cross Greeno Road. She says that her business is a work in progress and work it is! 

She pots up, plants, waters, rearranges, labels, mixes dirt, fertilizes, over and over every day, and carries trays full of plants with her strong muscled arms. In one day, her fitness tracker logs over 10,000 steps just doing her daily chores and she does most of it herself. When she is not at the nursery, she is riding her Harley with the American Legion Riders or racing her sailboat at the Fairhope Yacht Club. “ I just like to have fun.” 

She loves being outside and says, “ Many people don’t realize the incredible science that is happening. Being around plant energy has overwhelming benefits that go unnoticed. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, it's healthy and therapeutic.” 

Terri has so much to teach us about growing things and says “Everyone is born with a brown thumb. Time and effort and trial and error is how you learn.” That sounds like a life lesson, to me. Plan to visit The Plant Fairie at 21085 Jubilee Trail in Fairhope. 251 510 7771. Open Monday through Saturday 9 till 5 pm. It is a one-of-a-kind place with a one-of-a-kind woman.

May 15, 2024
People & Business Profiles

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