Karen Wu is the daughter of Al Bertschinger, the longtime owner of Al’s Nursery on Portola Road. The business, started in 1959, was the way of life for the family from the beginning. At first they lived in the little building that became the office, then in 1960 in a house they built on the site. Both Karen and her sister worked alongside their parents, beginning by pulling weeds. “Work first, then play,” was the motto. (Play was sometimes in the dirt of sparsely traveled Portola Road.)
Karen met John, who has a background in biology and zoology, at the nursery. He had had various careers, e. g. college administration, before he began chatting with Al one day when he was biking the loop. He and Karen eventually married, and became increasingly active in the business as Al aged. Karen and John took over the business in 1996. Until his last days, Al missed the work and always asked, “Who came in today?”
In 2011, the Wus sold the nursery and retired to Florida to join their two children who work for Disney. Volunteering and/or working only eight-hour days was something to look forward to.