As we come up on our one year anniversary of purchasing “The Garden Center” and beginning the transformation to “The Forest Flower.” I wanted to reflect on how we got here and where we hope to go.
Last summer I started a very small cut flower farm on some extra acreage my parents owned, inspired by the amazing Erin Benzakein of Floret Farms. I enjoyed it so much and found the process of growing flowers from a seed so magical, I immediately wanted more.
During this same time the previous owner of the garden center was planning to close down the shop permanently as he was 76 and the property needed gobs of upkeep and maintenance. I sent my father a simple text, “I want to buy the garden center.” He responded with a simple, “K” and then came over later to tell me that he had some good news and some bad news. The good news and bad news were both that Bill was willing to sell us the garden center for what seemed like a reasonable amount of money. A few hours later, we had signed a purchase agreement on a legal pad, shook hands, and my dad who is a cross between Willie Nelson and a gangster pulled $1000 cash out of his pocket for earnest money.
Bill walked me over to a handful of completely shocked employees and announced that I was the new owner-yikes!
I had immediate visions for what I wanted the place to become, but the initial reality was that we had 40 years of accumulated stuff to deal with first. Well ten giant dumpsters, numerous craigslist posts, several junk king hauls, and various scrappers later we were finally making a dent into getting the property back to square one.
Both of the retail buildings needed complete overhauls including new roofs, new electrical and lights, major furnace repairs, new and repaired windows, fresh paint and a good scrubbing. We added a recycling bin and compost pile and tackled years of invasive honeysuckle and poison ivy that had grown unchecked. We added gravel, new concrete walkways, replaced broken doors and installed new shade structures- and this was all done in 8 months while we were open for business the entire time.
While there are still plenty of building and grounds improvements we hope to make (our beautiful old greenhouse for one!) I am super proud of what we have accomplished. We had the completely renovated houseplant shop open less than 4 months after purchasing the property. Our two adorable miniature donkeys came to live with us in May- and we haven’t stopped smiling since!
We finally started to offer classes and workshops this July and they have already been a huge success. I had to forgo planting cut flowers this spring because we were still focused on the renovations, so next spring I hope to bring that aspect of the business back. We want to add a community garden for the neighborhood surrounding our shop and expand our services and classes.
The feedback and support we have received from the customers and community has been amazing. Bill also has been our biggest fan and champion, checking in on us, offering friendly advice and letting everyone know he loves the changes we’ve made.
Check out a few of the before images below. Come visit us at the shop soon to see the progress in person!