It’s been five years since Elizabeth Elliott traded international peace building for community building as the owner of Himmel’s Landscape and Garden Center.
Elliott was in South Korea for her work on behalf of the Global Peace Foundation when she received a call from her former boss, Himmel’s Farm and Garden Center’s then-owner Steve Watkins, asking if Elliott was ready to buy the business. It was a move the two had discussed for years, and the time had come.
“I was in heels and dresses every day,” Elliott recalled with amusement.
Though her wardrobe didn’t make the cut for farm life, Elliott has utilized tools and lessons from the corporate world to cultivate and grow Himmel’s.
First up was crafting a mission that customers can find printed near the cash register in the garden center: helping our neighbors build a better, healthier, more beautiful world.
Five years in, that mission remains the driving force behind all of Elliott’s decision-making.
“We really are thinking globally and acting locally by the way we interact with people, by inviting diversity and being a welcome, open space, a safe space for everyone,” Elliott explained. “That’s very, very important to me.”
Also important to Elliott was expanding what Himmel’s had to offer. One of her first major shifts in the business model was the addition of the landscaping division.
“I love transforming a space,” Elliott said of starting with a blank canvas and creating an outdoor space tailor-made for her clients.
The landscape team at Himmel’s is trained and equipped to handle everything from design to installation.
“We try to get the customer to talk as much as they can about what their dream is,” Elliott said. “That’s our whole thing: turning the landscape of your dreams, turning your backyard into a unique habitat.”
This year, Elliott chose to move full tilt into hardscaping, a decision intended to provide customers with a more comprehensive experience.
“We had customers who we would build a beautiful landscape job for after they had their patio installed, and we wanted to be more of a one-stop shop, and now we are a one-stop shop,” she said.
Elevating an outdoor space can be a significant time and financial commitment, depending on the project. Elliott understands this and wants to work with her clients at their pace, no matter how long it takes to reach the end goal.
“Customers don’t have to feel like they have to do it all at once; we’re happy to work with customers in phases,” she said.
Not to be forgotten, at the heart of Himmel’s is the retail side, where Elliott said she’ll put her plants up against the best of them.
“Our plant material is just extraordinary,” Elliott said. “We try and bring in things that other garden centers don’t have, so that when [customers] come here, they know they’re going to find something unique and special.”
Elliott and her team recently added house plants to their inventory to expand their offerings, a move that required some creativity.
“We didn’t really have a way to keep them healthy in our greenhouse, over the winter especially, so we built a mini greenhouse inside of our big greenhouse,” Elliott said.
When Elliott took over at Himmel’s, she prioritized the professionalization of the staff. She is quick to give credit to her highly skilled and dedicated staff of 30.
“They’re here because they love plants, and they love people,” she said, noting that her staff comprises career horticulturists and landscapers.
A knowledgeable staff and valuable product could, arguably, be enough to carry a business.
But Elizabeth Elliott doesn’t settle for enough.
“I like being a person who uplifts other people, and I wanted the business to do that,” she said.
In addition to the retail selections and landscaping services, Himmel’s offers community. The company sign along Mountain Road also lists upcoming events, which include a variety of activities that promote wellness, the arts, gardening and the overall homestead lifestyle.
“People are just trying to find happiness in this world,” Elliott said. “Come here. Learn about plants, start your first garden. Get out. Get your hands in the dirt.”
Himmel’s Landscape and Garden Center is located at 4374 Mountain Road in Pasadena. For more information, call 410-255-7730 or visit www.himmelsgardencenter.com.
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