By Jesse Eastman, Owner & General Manager
Looking back at the last year, I am overcome by a profound sense of nostalgia mixed with giddy anticipation. I have never been more excited to be exactly where I am, nor have I ever been so excited about the opportunities that I see on the horizon.
2011 was the first year since 1976 that my father, Gary Eastman, was not standing at the helm. Kent Hixson retired in 2011, taking with him nearly 40 years of experience.
This is a trend that is sweeping through the nursery industry nation-wide. In the best scenarios, the business passes as a strong entity to the next generation, as in my case. In the worst scenarios, accidents have taken industry leaders before their time, as happened with the tragic loss of Warren Jordan of Jordan’s Greenhouse. As the younger generation takes the reins, the loss of institutional wisdom is profound, yet the possibilities seem endless.
Coupled with this changing of the guard, the aftershocks of the economic crisis are still rippling throughout the country. As a retail garden center, we are staying on our toes, always seeking new ways to help you keep growing as a plant-lover. The fundamental way businesses like ours operate is changing, and I am excited to see what fantastic innovations this shift will bring. Already, we have seen an explosion in outdoor container gardening, and indoor gardening has veered away from the traditional houseplant-in-a-pot and is hurtling headlong into trends like vertical gardening and fairy gardening. More and more people are planting vegetable gardens and home orchards. “Local” is the new buzzword, one which I am happy to say we embody thoroughly, with over 85% of our #1 (1 gal.) perennials being grown on-site by our production team! All of these steps that gardeners are taking to be more sustainable and to support local businesses have exciting implications for the future of gardening.
I mentioned the intense sense of nostalgia I feel when I look back at 2011. This sense of being a part of something much bigger than myself is due in no small part to the fact that I have the honor of ushering in Fort Collins Nursery’s 80th year in as a purveyor of fine plants and expert advice. Founded in 1932 by Ira Glenn Kinghorn, this nursery sets the standard for garden centers in Fort Collins and throughout Colorado. Countless past employees are now running their own successful businesses, including but not limited to: Tom Throgmorton of Throgmorton Plant Management; Gary Kershaw of Fort Collins Landscaping; Denver City Forester Rob Davis; and Gary Epstein, past co-owner of Fort Collins Nursery and owner of Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery. I am truly standing on the shoulders of giants.
Finally, I believe you are the most wonderful and supportive customers around. You are the reason we do what we do. I recently had the opportunity to drive around Fort Collins with my dad as he pointed out the trees in various landscapes that came from Fort Collins Nursery. Most of them were older than I am, and many of those yards belong to customers who still shop here today. It is incredible to be a part of something so integral to the spirit of this city as the trees and gardens that dress the yards and landscapes all around.
It is with this in mind that I eagerly anticipate our 80th anniversary year and all that comes with it. We have come such a long way, from our roots as a fruit and vegetable stand selling a few plants on the side to the thriving garden center we are today. I hope you will all be here with us as we journey on to the next step, whatever it may be.