Meet Your Tahoe Merchant: ‘Growing’ business at High Sierra Gardens
Special to the Bonanza
What: High Sierra Gardens
Location: 866 Tahoe Blvd.
The love for plants, flowers, gardens and the lake brought Dan Yori in 1970 to Tahoe, where he worked for years doing landscaping for different yards along Lakeshore Boulevard.
But even before that, High Sierra Gardens’ owner was shaped and pruned to be in the plant business.
“At age 11, my grandfather made me cut grass and work in the garden,” Yori said.
Yori was raised for the most part by his grandparents, and spent a lot of his childhood in their garden in Sparks. He helped his grandfather with planting and weeding, harvesting vegetables — he was a kid getting his hands dirty.
He said his grandparents asked him to complete his chores in the garden, “before tossing (him) ten cents to play the pinball machines.”
After more than a decade working in landscaping in Inline, Yori bought Ponderosa Nursery and made it his own High Sierra Gardens. Today, his business has expanded into a nursery, florist, gift shop and design landscaping.
Most of Yori’s clients have come from word of mouth, or by people simply liking what they see.
“The next person looked over the fence and saw my work,” he said of the early day marketing.
Design landscape became Yori’s specialty over the years in Incline and he is proud to say that many houses in the North Tahoe area (and nearly half along Lakeshore) are the work of he and his team.
Working with texture and colors, as well as keeping up with the constant changing of yards, keeps Yori intrigued and excited.
“It’s where my creative juices are — it’s what I like to do,” he said of landscape design. “I always had a creative eye with landscape, I can see a yard and see it three different ways or five different ways.”
He often uses large granite, perennials, trees and water features to create a feeling of serenity in a space. Aspens are his favorite for “the way they quake.”
Like many businesses in Tahoe, Yori must work closely with the seasons — not for tourism, but for weather itself.
“Mother Nature is a huge influence on us,” he said. “Having a nursery in the mountains means you have to really pay attention.”
The business owner is thankful for this year’s early spring, as some years he hasn’t been able to open the nursery until as late as mid-June.
“The sunshine comes out and the phone starts ringing and I’m scrambling,” he said.
Although with its flowers and wind chimes, tall trees and greenery, the scrambling he may feel is never felt by customers.
Through the back of the business runs Wood Creek, a small stream which starts in the Sierra and empties into the lake.
Small wood bridges and benches create a feeling of serenity among the potted plants for sale and the native plants all around.
For the volume High Sierra Gardens caters to, the business is relatively small.
“It feels serene now,” Yori said, “but wait until a truck comes in, we get cleaned out quite quickly.”
In his off time, Yori is at home, on his knees in the soil, getting his hands dirty.
“Don’t you ever stop?!” yells a neighbor over the fence as he digs and plants, picks and (as he says) “putzes.”
“Gardening is my stress relief,” Yori said.
Happy birds and the distant sound of passing cars on the highway are the only sounds in Old Brockway as Yori works in his vegetable garden, bringing in his heirloom tomatoes for a salad, picking herbs to cook with.
Like anyone who can make a living doing what they love to do, Yori agrees he is a lucky man.
Working with plants and soil, flowers and yards is what the man has known since a boy and has transformed and brought the love to others through high Sierra Gardens.
“It grew in me where I had this passion for it, now there’s a science to it,” he said.
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