ELK GROVE (CBS13) – Northern California’s largest water-garden nursery managed to grow its business in a bad economy. But now it’s almost gone.

“I mean, we put everything into it,” said Marco Tjaden, the owner of Flora Tropicana.

Tjaden built his dreams around koi ponds, waterfalls and Japanese maples.

“I came from San Jose here for the Japanese maples,” said Charles Cummings, a customer.

“I mean, there’s no place like this in Northern California,” said Marco.

For the last 10 years, he and his wife made Flora Tropicana the place where homeowners could learn about building water features in their backyards. And even when the economy took a turn, the Tjadens held on when many shut down.

“It’s unique. And when it’s spring and summer, it’s wonderful to come out here,” said Cynthia Hill, a customer.

But Marco leased the five acres his business sits on from a friend who, last year, broke the news that the bank was foreclosing on the land.

“We found out at the last stage of everything, and the land went back to the lender. The lender says, ‘hey we don’t have a lease option with you, we’re going to jack up the rent four and half times,’” said Marco.

He couldn’t afford the $6,000-$8,000 rent, so Marco and his wife decided it was time to pack up.

“It’s $90 and everything is 50 percent off,” said Marco to a customer.

But he’s not holding a closing sale, rather a moving sale. He had already planned to open up a store in the bay area, and so that’s where he’ll take his ponds and his 30-year-old koi who likes to be hand-fed and pet. Marco refuses to sell him.

“And I kid you not, the standing offer right now is $4,000,” said Marco.

It’s those little things besides the product that’s made Marco and his nursery a favorite to his customers.

He says it’s also a measure of his success.

“And so I think really at the end of the day, after 10 years I can say the success is having those relationships still,” said Marco.

The new business will be called Liquid Gardens and will be located in Cupertino.


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