For almost four decades, Theresa Mieseler has been a go-to source of plants and know-how for gardeners who want to grow herbs. But in the mid-1970s, when she was placed in charge of the herb gardens at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum by then-director Leon Snyder, she admits she was clueless.

“I told him I don’t know what an herb is,” recalled Mieseler.

She was a quick study. Soon she was a member of local and international herb societies, and she and her husband, Jim, were cultivating their own herb gardens, including unusual varieties, on their acreage in Chaska.

In 1977, the Mieselers turned their seedlings grown in Dixie cups in their basement into Shady Acres Herb Farm, where they eventually cultivated and sold about 600 varieties of culinary herbs and vegetables — including heirloom tomatoes and peppers — in eight greenhouses.

After 39 years, the couple, both in their 60s, are hanging up their trowels as of June 12.

“It got to be a lot of work, and Jim has back problems,” said Theresa, who added that they’re not selling or leasing the herb farm. “Now was the time to retire.”

The enterprising couple worked all year long on the farm, planting seedlings in the greenhouses in February and wrapping up the selling season in mid-June. They also held herb-related classes and events and opened a gift shop.

“We never dreamed that it would be such a wonderful business to be in and how it made people happy,” said Theresa, noting that they’ve made friends with gardeners all over the world who share their passion for herbs.

Shady Acres and its wide-ranging, flavorful assortment will be missed by Twin Cities herb lovers, judging from e-mails and phone calls to the Mieselers since they announced the closing. The couple even planted flats of specialty herbs for some of their loyal customers.

“Now I’m wondering where I’m going to find mrihani basil,” said Theresa.

Last herb hurrah

Shady Acres’ closing sale is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 9-11, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 12, with plants, containers and pots offered at half-price.

The Mieselers also will set up a big tent for their final Garden Salon from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 27, featuring herb-related lectures, workshops, demonstrations and lunch at 7815 Hwy. 212, Chaska. Cost is $65. Register at shadyacres.com by June 20. 

@LyUnderwood