By Carol Cowan
When Jerry and Fay McDaniel took ownership of the Clarksburg store that had been in his family for generations, they wanted to infuse it with the Old World charm of Bavaria, Germany, where the couple spent 15 years during Jerry’s service in the U.S. Army. The McDaniels had developed a keen appreciation for German customs and antiques while living abroad, so it was only natural to give their interest expression back home.
They christened their store Oma’s Antik Haus – German for “Grandma’s Antique House” – and filled window boxes and planters with purple petunias to mimic the colorful flowers that adorn the homes and shops of Bavaria. Items on its shelves include heirloom dishes, vintage vases, and antique dolls and figurines.
While the rural West Tennessee antique shop brims with unique merchandise, it’s often the profuse flowers, spilling over the edges of their containers by as much as four feet, that cause passers-by to double back for a second look and even some gardening tips.
“As big as the store is and how it sticks out, people will drive by and come back to look at the flowers and want to know how we are growing flowers that look like that,” Jerry says. “We have a lot of people stopping in just interested in the flowers themselves.”
Growing Petunias in Planters
Folks asking questions find the McDaniels generous with their expertise.
“We use Miracle Gro potting soil and Miracle Gro plant food crystals mixed with water once a week during their regular watering,” Fay advises. “Containers should always have good drainage – petunias do not like wet feet – but do not let soil dry out between waterings. Water daily during hot sunny weather, giving the plants a good soaking.”
The McDaniels devote about an hour each day to caring for their 20 planters of petunias – the Tidal Wave variety of Wave petunias exclusively, because with proper care they thrive even in 100-plus-degree weather and don’t require deadheading.
Planning for their summer blossoms begins early. Each fall, they preorder flats of 36 plants each from a local Mennonite nursery. The nursery grows the plants from seed in greenhouses over the winter. Come April, the young shoots are ready to transplant.
SEE MORE: Petunia Pointers
“A dozen young transplants are put in two rows in a 24-by-6-by-6-inch plastic flower box tray,” Fay explains. “We have wooden boxes attached to the side of the store under the windows and on the rails of the porches that the trays fit inside. The wooden boxes, along with the plastic trays, all have drainage holes so that water will not stand. Our large wooden barrels will hold about two dozen plants.”
With diligent watering and fertilization, new flowering shoots continue to cascade over the older ones, which die off as they go to seed. Pruning away the dead stems beneath the newer growth tricks the plants into thinking they are not finished for the season, Fay says, and the petunias continue to bloom well into the fall, even surviving early frosts.
“Do not be afraid to give a hard pruning when necessary, even on the ends with blooms,” she says. “The result will be a more uniform appearance, and gaps will soon fill in.”
From General Store to Antique Shop
Oma’s Antik Haus was originally built by Jerry McDaniel’s great-great-great-great grandfather in the mid-1850s as a crossroads general store, serving needs from cradle to grave and selling items from produce to livestock, and eventually, cars.
“It served as the center of the community,” Jerry says. “I found the old ledgers over a span of about 40 years in the late 1800s. They sold caskets, and the storeowner even put on funerals. They sold anything anybody wanted; if they didn’t have it, they could get it. It was the first Chevrolet dealership in the county; back in the 1920s, you could order a car.”
Jerry’s grandfather, Jesse Pendergrass, ran the store from 1953 to 1989, when he died at the age of 93. Having grown up spending time at the store with his grandfather and getting the local news from the old-timers gathered on the porch or around the old potbelly stove, Jerry wanted to keep the store in the family and so purchased it from the estate. He and Fay have spent several years restoring and preserving it.
The building still has the original shelving and counters. The main room with its 14-foot ceilings, along with the upstairs and side rooms where previous proprietors once resided, are now full of antiques, primitives, stoneware, quilts, linens, collectibles, glassware, furniture, artwork and trunks.
There are still rocking chairs on the porch, though, and the McDaniels welcome all-comers to sit a spell, share the news, enjoy the flowers and browse the store.
Contact or Visit Oma’s Antik Haus
Oma’s Antik Haus is located at 3375 Hwy. 22, Clarksburg, Tenn. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed holidays. As always, please call ahead before traveling long distances: (731) 986-3018.