The sounds of spring in Thetford Center are abundant. And at EC Brown Nursery there's also a serenade for the budding plants.
On these 8 acres more than roses grow -- thousands of trees of all shapes and sizes are for sale. A far cry from when it started 45 years ago.
"We started the business with seven plants thats all we had. My boss down in Connecticut gave me seven plants and that's how we started, says Elmer Brown.
He moved back to his native Vermont to start the nursery, back then the idea of landscaping was pulling a tree from the forest and plopping it in your yard.
Through hard work, the business grew, they now have 11 mostly seasonal employees. They serve much of the Connecticut River Valley. Elmer is a busy man -- lifting 50-pound bags regularly at the business.
The secret to his health? He makes no bones about being a teetotaler who doesn't smoke and of course, he's physically active.
"I can't do what I used to do, but I'm at the stage of my life -- this being my birthday -- I can say whatever I want that comes in my head," he says.
You heard him right, it's his birthday. Elmer is now 85. The former marine loves plants, loves singing in a barbershop quartet and of course loves his wife, Bertha.
"I think he's alright, we've been together a long time, I think I'm going to keep 'um," she jokes.
She did the books for the business. They've been married for 48 years, and he says she's been very important for the business.
But she's not his first wife. Marjorie died in her early thirties, leaving Elmer with two young boys. It was a tough time.
"You got to do what you got to do right? You got a challenge, you got to stand up to it," he says.
That he did, now his son Kevin works along side his dad. Brown says he's proud of his business.
As a kid he never dreamed of being wealthy, just living a rich and fulfilling life.
"What do they got that I don't have? I think I have more of a peace of mind than a good number of millionaires," he says.
He's been a volunteer fireman, EMT, Justice of the Peace, and even a self-published author. The botanist even makes house calls.
So the next time you see a white truck heading down the road, listen carefully -- it may be Elmer balancing his two passions: singing and landscaping.
"I've had a great life and I'm looking forward to more. I look forward to another 25!" he says.
PO Box 4508