Our staff

Fort Collins Nursery is a complete, year-round garden center that prides itself on customer service and horticultural experience.

Our friendly staff includes people who are experts on everything from apples to zinnias and everything in between, and includes 10 Colorado Certified Nursery Professionals. We are dedicated, knowledgeable and enjoy what we do. Our goal is to help you enjoy your visits with us and to offer expert gardening advice and outstanding support throughout the year.


Jesse Eastman

Jesse is the owner and General Manager of Fort Collins Nursery. Growing up in and around the nursery, his first job here was around age 6 when he was paid 5¢ per packet to package corn and beans. Since then, he has always been drawn back to plants, and gardening. He took over ownership of the nursery from his father, Gary Eastman, in December of 2010. Jesse also enjoys rock and ice climbing, camping, and snowboarding.

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? My Bears Seedless Lime
  • Where did you grow up? Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • What is your favorite part of living on the Front Range? I love running into people I know everywhere I go.
  • When did you first decide you wanted to work in the green industry? I always told myself that working at the family nursery or doing odd landscaping jobs was just a way to pay the bills, but when those are the only jobs you ever have, you eventually realize that it was meant to be.

Scott Swartzendruber

Scott SwarzendruberScott is our Nursery Stock Buyer and oversees both the Perennial and Woodies Departments (Trees & Shrubs). He has been with Fort Collins Nursery since 2000. Scott also buys our pumpkins and Christmas trees. When Scott isn’t working (including when he’s on his lunch break) he can often be found fishing in his favorite secret fishing holes.

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? My daughter Ruby’s cactus. It hasn’t died… yet.
  • Where did you grow up? Iowa City, Iowa.
  • What is your favorite food, and why? Beer, you don’t have to chew anything – saves energy.
  • More than anything else, what did you want to be when you were a child? A pediatric oncologist.

Pat Throgmorton

Pat is our Office Manager and has worked at Fort Collins Nursery since 1996. She is generally the calm in the center of the storm when things get hectic around here. Beyond her duties in the office, Pat has been seen cashiering, helping coordinate events, and even working on the sales floor from time to time. Pat really is our “Jack of all trades” and a master of many!

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? All of them that are still alive!
  • Where did you grow up? Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • What is the farthest from Fort Collins you have traveled? What’s farther: Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Bangkok, Singapore, New Zealand, or Australia?
  • What is your favorite part of living on the Front Range? Being able to navigate by the mountains! (And being so close to such beautiful surroundings)

Troy Cobb

Arriving in 2001, Troy is the Greenhouse Manager at Fort Collins Nursery. He got his start in the business pulling weeds as a child at Shamrock Nursery in O’Neill, Nebraska. Troy’s passion for orchids has led to development of a beautiful tree in our greenhouse, which features orchids that grows directly on the branches of a huge Fiddle Leaf Fig, much as they would in their native tropical habitat.

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? Qunep – it’s a tree native to Haiti. I collected a seed from a fruit when I was there in 2003 and was able to get it to germinate and grow!
  • Where did you grow up? I was born in Montana but grew up in O’Neill, Nebraska.
  • Have you ever met any celebrities? I met and talked with rapper DMX for over half an hour without realizing who he was.
  • Which actor would play you in a movie of your life? Larry David.

Brendan Anderson

Brendan AndersonBrendan has been a part of the Fort Collins Nursery team for seven years, with 12 years total in the nursery business. He runs the Production crew, and oversees the annual growing of more than 35,000 perennials, trees, shrubs, annuals and vegetables. Brendan is also the go-to fix-it guy. Some of the best days at Fort Collins Nursery are when Brendan brings in a crock-pot of homemade chili.

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? All of my tomatoes.
  • Where did you grow up? Cañon City, home of the Royal Gorge and lots of people who wear orange.
  • Can you touch your tongue to your nose? Not without severing one or the other.
  • When did you first decide you wanted to work in the Green Industry? After working in it for three years.

Rae Dawn Hilker

Rae Dawn joined Fort Collins Nursery in 2014 as our Marketing Director, and handles advertisements, community relations, sponsorships, and on- and off-site events. When she’s not creating something here, she can be found creating something at home: beading, embroidery, hand-made cards, etc!

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? I would have to say all of them: We just finished xeriscaping our back yard and we found an amazing variety of beautiful plants that are low-water and low-maintenance (they are also more forgiving when I forget to water them).
  • Where did you grow up? Phoenix, Ariz. and Vernal, Utah (once known as “The Dinosaur Capital of the World”).
  • Who is your favorite author? Stephen King; he is a great story-teller and his writing can make me laugh out loud because his characters are so real.
  • Have you ever met any celebrities? Roy Rogers, Scott Glenn, Gary Busey, Jamie Farr, Mickey Rooney and more. My first career was in journalism and when I worked at a small California daily, I got to meet several celebrities. I have to say my favorite was Ben Johnson … I was raised on John Wayne westerns and Johnson was in several of his pictures.

Matt Kaylor

Matt is the Nursery (Trees, Shrubs & Perennials) Manager and also oversees our Planting & Delivery crew. He has worked in the nursery industry since 2004, and has been at Fort Collins Nursery since 2009. He is one of the tallest members of our team, and with his head up in the branches all day long, we suspect his tree knowledge is primarily absorbed through osmosis.

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? I love all my plants, especially my bonsai.
  • Where did you grow up? Aurora, Colorado.
  • What is your favorite thing to do on your days off? Hike and/or Frisbee golf.
  • What five things are always in your fridge? Milk, beef, fruit, hot sauce and beer.

Kristen Johnson

KristenWEBKristen is our Garden Shop Manager. She has been working in the nursery industry for 9 years, and has been at Fort Collins Nursery since 2012. When she is not at the nursery you will find this Norwegian gal volunteering her time to Ski For Light, guiding blind cross country skiers through the snow!

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? My shamrocks because they make me feel like a super gardener!
  • Where did you grow up? Between Boulder and the Twin Cities, MN
  • What’s your favorite food? Edible Food
  • More than anything else, what did you want to be when you were a child? I wanted to be a barrel horse racer; my air horse and I were quite fast!

Connie Barber

Connie has held many positions at Fort Collins Nursery since starting as an outside salesperson in 1990. She has supervised the Tree and Shrub department, worked with our Production and Maintenance crew, and managed the Garden Shop until 2001. She rejoined the team in 2009 as an assistant office staff, and does many other odd jobs – as she says, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? My windbreak planting – more than 500 plants that will eventually protect our house from the wind, enhance our property on the prairie and give us the satisfaction of being better stewards of the land.
  • Where did you grow up? Olathe, Colorado
  • When did you first decide you wanted to work in the green industry? I grew up on a farm in Olathe, Colorado, and have always loved growing things. My sophomore year of college I started working at a nursery and have been in the industry ever since.
  • What movie can you watch 50 times in a row and still enjoy? Top Gun – the beach volleyball scene is the best. “I feel the need, the need for speed!”

Bonnie Francis

Bonnie is our Beds Maintenance Supervisor. She has been working for Fort Collins Nursery since 2005, and in 2009 earned the prestigious title of Colorado Certified Nursery Professional. Bonnie got married in 2013 to her best friend Matt Francis.

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? A shamrock plant because it was my grandma’s and it’s at least 20 years old.
  • Where did you grow up? Timnath, Colorado
  • What’s the farthest from Fort Collins you’ve traveled? Scotland
  • What is your favorite food and why? Cheesecake, because I love to bake and I make a mean one!

Ashley Ikemeier

Ashley is our Assistant Production Supervisor and is also in charge of Receiving. She started working in the nursery industry in 2010 when she joined Fort Collins Nursery after receiving a degree in Horticulture with a minor in Botany. Originally hired as seasonal help, Ashley quickly impressed us with her hard work and great personality; we’re excited to have her as part of our team!

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? My philodendron because it is very long.
  • Where did you grow up? Westminster, Colorado.
  • What’s your favorite food and why? Hot sauce. It’s spicy and comes in so many different flavors; it’s fun!
  • More than anything else, what did you want to be when you were a child? The Little Mermaid.

Randy Hixson

RandyHixsonRandy has literally grown up at the nursery but started receiving an actual paycheck at the age of 14. He has worn many hats here, including Chief Seed Hander Outer, Carry Out, Receiving, Lead Cashier and most recently, Assistant Garden Shop Manager. Randy has a wealth of knowledge related to gardening that he would love to share with you!

  • What plant at your home are you most proud of? My Kumquat, even with the neglect I have put it through, it thrives – I got it to bloom again this year!
  • Where did you grow up? Right here in Fort Collins, CO.
  • What is the farthest from Fort Collins you have traveled? Paris & London; I preferred London.
  • What is your favorite food and why? Lasagna, I love making it and then having enough food to last me a week!