“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
Or, in the case of the Brothers Greenhouses, there visits the residents of Port Orchard of a replica hobbit hut.
For a business that has been around for nearly 50 years, the hobbit hut that sits behind the greenhouse, built in 2015, has quickly become a popular attraction.
“Somehow it got on [the website] American Roadside Attractions, and all of a sudden there were bunches of people coming. It was really fun,” owner Cheryl Pelkey said.
Pelkey and business partner Marilyn Davis have owned the six-and-a-half-acre property since 1996 after buying it from its original owners. When the property went on sale, it sat for a few years until two interested buyers came forward who wanted to keep Pelkey and Davis there to run it.
“We thought, why work for someone else?” Pelkey said. “So we pooled our money together and bought it.”
And while the original business was wholesale, the pair has worked to make their business unique to stand the test of time. Along with the hobbit house, the business has several displays housed in their many greenhouses.
Between the thousands of flowers, trees, vegetables and lawn coverings are displays by local artists and unique knickknacks to keep visitors busy for hours.
“We’ve been able to put our own personalities into it,” Pelkey said.
The Brothers Greenhouses employs about 10 people during the busy season of April, May and June. Roughly five stay on full-time throughout the year.
“It’s a skeleton crew,” Pelkey said. “But we do most of the work ourselves.”
Along with selling flora and fauna to everyday folk, the business provides the flower baskets that decorate Bay Street in Port Orchard and in downtown Gig Harbor.
With several greenhouses named after different mountains, the large piece of property is covered in arrays of color, rows of trees and plants remininiscent of the fictional Shire, the hobbit folks’ homestead.
“We’re the grower. From seeds to vegetation to cuttings to bulbs. Anything from the start in the soil,” Pelkey said
And in keeping with the mountain theme, the question Pelkey and Davis still get asked is, “Why is it called Brothers Greenhouses?”
“We get asked that all the time,” Pelkey said. “In the Olympic Mountains over there, the highest peak is called The Brothers. It’s been called that [the greenhouse] from the beginning, and we decided not to change the name.”
While Pelkey describes Davis as the farmer who can grow anything, she calls herself a creator.
“I have these little projects and competitions, artistic things,” she said. “We need to be different to compete with the big growers.”
Pelkey has several different projects throughout the greenhouses.
She offers classes to create fairy gardens and hobbit houses. Pelkey also hosts an annual egg-decorating competition at Easter where all entries are displayed in the gift shop.
She hosts a photography contest each year in which local artists can submit their work. Every entry is published in that year’s book, and the winner’s photograph graces the cover.
“We get about 135 entrees every year,” Pelkey said. “There’s a lot of local involvement.”
But one of her largest projects are the displays set up throughout the gift shop and retail area.
The first is a large castle made out of bamboo with different succulents and plants growing throughout.
“We consigned George Kenny out of Allyn to build us a castle,” Pelkey said. Kenny is known for his elaborate chainsaw carvings, and he even offers classes out of his shop.
“He didn’t know what that really meant so he made us four pillars, and we connected them with bamboo planters around,” she said, describing the massive structure covered in greenery. “They weren’t made as planters, but we planted plants in them so now they’ve turned into planters.”
The second structure is newer and Pelkey is proud of the hard work she has put into it. Tying in to the roadside attraction out back, the newest display is called “The Shire.”
It’s a display covered in greenery with hidden hobbit houses under the hill. The doors are painted to look like wood with stone pillars, and the enchanted “Forest of Dean” looks over the top where she plans to add the wizard, Radagast the Brown.
“There will also be a train going through with gold on it and a dragon following for some movement,” Pelkey said.
Which brings us back to the other hobbit house, large enough for people bigger than a hobbit to enter.
Pelkey and Davis set this area aside for a large interactive structure of some kind. They originally had the idea of building some kind of castle. However, after years with this idea stewing in their minds without becoming a reality, the idea of the hobbit house came to the forefront.
“There was nothing here, so finally I said, ‘Why not build a hobbit house?’ and it just clicked,” Pelkey said.
Her first idea was to take a culvert steel pipe to build a tunnel under the pathway leading into the hobbit house in the woods. Davis took that idea and instead suggested simply building the hobbit house out of the culvert pipe.
“It’s made of 14-gauge steel, so it’s not going anywhere or caving in,” Pelkey said. “We cut off ends and added it to the front for the entryway. Then we nailed wood all around it and brought rocks in for the front to create the illusion of a hobbit hole.”
There is a round swinging door that mirrors Bilbo Baggins’ home Bag End and a fireplace inside that is used with careful monitoring.
Covering the top of the house are different ground coverings they offer at the greenhouse. In the center is a large Magnolia tree that blooms white flowers in the summer.
Although the house is a large draw, Pelkey’s favorite part is the “Hobbit House Journal,” a guest book by the register for those who paid a visit to their Tolkien-inspired attraction.
“Sometimes when I get gloomy or sad, I go through this, and it’s uplifting to see people’s comments,” she said.
Although Port Orchard may be far away from Middle Earth, those looking for someone to share in an adventure don’t have to travel farther than the Brothers Greenhouses.
For, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
Brothers Greenhouses is at 3200 SW Victory Dr. in Port Orchard. The shop is always open. The business hours are: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.