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ULTSHOP-ShopTalk 6-6-06 Garden of Eden By Frank Etheridge

Photo by Frank Etheridge Healthy plants of all types and expert advice are what youÕll find at Green Parrot Nursery. Green Parrot Nursery (4920 Tchoupitoulas St., 894-1100) developed its formula for success in a way that's opposite of typical business planning.

"Our concept is contrary to traditional economic principles in retail, where you typically start off with the retail and then build up services," Green Parrot owner Nick Richards says. "But we did just the opposite. We started off as a service and then built the retail."

Richards returned to his hometown after working for years in public safety and started his landscaping and horticulture business. Inspiration for the retail store came from his late mother, Mary Louise Richards, who noted the need for a safe, convenient and relaxing nursery Uptown. Four years ago, Green Parrot opened the gates to its nearly 1-acre location on Tchoupitoulas Street with such needs in mind.

But, like all other aspects of life in New Orleans, Katrina changed the Green Parrot.

First, Richards helped personally clear trees and greenery off 23 miles of roadway with his Bobcat. "We operate more with the traditional mom-and-pop store mentality that's concerned more with the community than making a buck," Richards says.

Now, Green Parrot is busy serving customers all the way from movie stars looking for a total landscaping project to college students simply looking for a plant to hang in their dorm window. The nursery sells a wide variety of flowers and plants such as begonias and fincas, which are especially popular right now. Richards says he gets shipments of plants in daily, which keeps his inventory fresh. The post-Katrina customer base, he says, has changed to include people from all over the metro area, from Gentilly to Lake Catherine to Metairie.

"People in New Orleans want a sense of normalcy right now," Richards says. "For a lot of folks, that can mean an airplane plant, a couple of cactuses or a fully landscaped yard. We can help with all of that." They're Back! New Orleans Museum of Art and the nearby Besthoff Sculpture Garden have expanded their hours and beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, June 7) will be open five days a week to better meet public demand. The new hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Currently, Louisiana residents with a valid ID are admitted free.

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