Take time to stop in Salisbury

Part 3: The Garden Path, The Farm

[AUG. 25, 2000]  Next to the Morning Star Mercantile and Café (on the opposite side from the Colin Folk Art Gallery) is a new garden center called The Garden Path, where you can shop for climbing roses or tomato plants. Robbin Nickelson, a first-time business owner, is happy to help answer any gardening questions you may have.

"We’ve very close to a booming community. People like to get away from the population. I’ve had a lot of community support. We’re not the little "trapped-on-your-condominium-type gardener here—we have acreage to deal with," she said.

The business, with three part-time and two full-time employees, occupies a 5,000-square-foot building that once housed an oak furniture business but had been vacant for two years. It also once served as a community building and gas station.

Nickelson offers a good variety of plants to pick from, especially roses, herbs and perennials, which fill the lot behind the business. This is a friendly place to purchase some additions to your flower bed. In fact, both her father and father-in-law may be the one loading your purchases for you. She plans to offer even more varieties next year when her two greenhouses, currently being constructed, are completed.

She holds seminars twice a month at the center. Future plans also call for a library room, complete with garden reference books, for educational purposes—to answer questions and allow customers to read books and watch tapes about gardening. "We’re trying to do the Barnes-and-Noble-type of a garden center," she said.

"Business is excellent. It’s very, very promising so far."


After shopping for art and flowers, it’s well worth the effort to stop at The Farm. A trip to this Menard County family-owned business just a few miles down the road from Salisbury is like a breath of fresh air. After a scenic drive down a country road, you drive over a small bridge to get to the large red horse barn, which is where Gail Adamski sells dried flowers, herbs and gifts.




(To top of second column in this section)

On bluffs overlooking the Sangamon River, Adamski (sister-in-law to tearoom owner Pat), has orchestrated a patchwork of neatly organized theme gardens, all planted behind the backdrop of the barn. After shopping for lavender-filled sachets or a new dried-flower wreath for your front door, treat your senses by strolling through the gardens. The gardens are not only educational, but will give you more than enough ideas to use in your own yard.

There is a children’s garden, complete with a life-size hopscotch board made of alternating squares of creeping thyme and gravel; a lemon garden, planted with lemon-scented herbs and flowers; a lover’s garden, tucked away in a private corner, featuring plants with Cupid-inspired names like "kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate" and "love-lies-bleeding."

Adamski, who opened her shop in 1995, a year after planting the theme gardens, doubled its size in 1997. Last year, she added a greenhouse, from which you can purchase herbs and flowers.

She and her family moved to rural Petersburg from Springfield 14 years ago to operate a Christmas tree farm on 40 acres. Three acres are planted in Christmas trees, which the Adamskis still sell, but the gardens and dried flower and herb business have been so successful, they have taken center stage.

And this summer, at least one antique shop is expected to open, adding to the booming business growth. Across the street from the tearoom and art gallery, Salisbury resident Perry O’Connor is working day and night remodeling the one-time hardware store owned by his late parents. He plans to open an art, antiques and collectibles business in the building, which originally was a grocery store and town hall.

So next time you plan to take visiting relatives to a drive to New Salem or have a reason to travel to Menard County, take the time to stop in Salisbury — you’ll be glad you did.

[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]

Take time to stop in Salisbury

Part 2: Colin Folk Art Gallery

[AUG. 24, 2000]  After having lunch in Salisbury at the Morning Star Mercantile and Café, you can walk next door to the Colin Folk Art Gallery, where the conversation with owners George and Winnie is as delightful and colorful as the chalk paintings they sell.

The couple is delighted if you appreciate George’s paintings, which fill every wall of the three-year-old gallery, but they get just as much enjoyment showing you the new baby birds perched in a branch just outside the gallery door. After a few minutes and a few stories they gladly share about how they became successful in this tiny town, visitors are soon considered friends. In fact, when I left the shop on a recent visit, Winnie thanked me for my visit, saying it was the best thing about her day. I felt the same way.


The large, colorful sign advertising the shop’s location isn’t really needed—the splashes of yellow, red and purple paint on benches nestled in flower beds, birdhouses hanging from trees, and just about anything made out of wood, which dot the yard of their home and gallery, are proof. And Winnie, with her red hair and heart of gold, delights in the attention her husband’s artwork has brought them and the town.


You get the feeling, though, that they both would be happy with or without the success and notoriety. "I will never leave Salisbury. We love it. Spiritually, it’s got a feeling. We came, we saw, we conquered," Winnie said. "I think it’s a very nice safe place to live. The people are wonderful."

(To top of second column in this section)

When they moved there 35 years ago to be close to New Salem, there were two taverns, two antique shops and "weeds as high as our house," she said. Although now her husband’s colorful, primitive chalk paintings of nature and Midwest scenes have landed him in the American Musuem of Folk Art in New York and on the cover of national magazines, George and Winnie still live in a converted garage just feet away from main street—adding one room at a time over the years as they could afford it.

"Who is going to buy art in Salisbury?" was a comment often heard, the artist said.

Even though they serve clients like Senator Dick Durbin, Oprah Winfrey, former governors and presidents, the notoriety and success hasn’t changed what they enjoy most in life—greeting visitors from their small corner of the world.


[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]


(Note: This article concludes on Friday.)


(To Part 3 of this article)

Take time to stop in Salisbury

Part 1: Morning Star Mercantile and Café

[AUG. 23, 2000]  Salisbury may not ever make the top 10 list of tourist attractions in Illinois — it’s not even listed on the state map. But for those who take the time to slow down while traveling on Route 97 from Springfield to New Salem and Petersburg, they will find a delightful place to wile away a few hours, have a leisurely lunch and watch the world go by.

Salisbury, just a short drive from Lincoln, is located about 12 miles northwest of Springfield and about the same distance south of New Salem. This town of approximately 150 people (no one knows for sure, since the population sign is missing) is loaded with charm and tranquillity and maybe the friendliest people you will ever meet. I still smile when I remember the enjoyable afternoon I spent there several weeks ago.

There was a time not so long ago that the business section of town consisted only of two taverns, two churches and some folk art scattered along the road as advertising for a local business. These fixtures are all still there — but so is a new tearoom, gift shop, garden center and nearby herb farm. Plans are also under way for an antique shop to open soon. There may still be a few rickety buildings that have seen better days and a few boarded up storefronts scattered among the new signs of economic growth, but that just adds to the charm of the place.

Salisbury has become one of my favorite places to share a cup of coffee and a piece of homemade pie with a friend on the front porch of the rustic tearoom that blends right into the primitive countryside. I’m not the only one who enjoys the charm of the Morning Star Mercantile and Café — it’s been packing in people for lunch since opening nearly two years ago.

Pat Adamski, who owns the business with her parents, Bill and Georgia Adamski, not only cooks and serves homemade pies and sandwiches in the rustic structure made from salvaged wood from a 100-year-old barn, she also lives above the restaurant.


(To top of second column in this section)

   Adamski says she gets a lot of comments from customers about how much they like the decor of the rustic building. The warm wood floors, beams, ceilings and walls are like a warm blanket on a chilly spring day. The massive stone fireplace, the featured attraction on one wall, was patterned after those at New Salem, adding to the ambience of the tearoom, which feels like part old general store, part log cabin and part bed-and-breakfast. Mismatched, simple wooden tables and chairs culled at country auctions and estate sales complete the decor. My favorite place to indulge in a chicken crepe or dessert, however, is out on the expansive front porch, decorated with hanging flower baskets and antique trellises.

This is a family business and it shows. Adamski’s father and brothers built the building, and her mother is usually found in the kitchen, washing dishes or helping out in other ways.

The menu includes a soup of the day (including chili during October through May), cashew chicken salad, olive nut spread, smoked turkey, chicken crepes and special broccoli salad, which is a crowd pleaser. Desserts such as apple-nut dessert, carrot cake and coconut cream pie are consumed rapidly by customers. You get the feeling many local residents have made this a daily or weekly part of their routine.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drinks, baked items, and desserts and ice cream are served all day.

After eating lunch, you can shop in a section of the building packed with candles and other craft items.

[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]


(Note: This article continues Thursday and Friday.)

(To Part 2 of this article)


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