Plant Land, a year-round wonderland of green, is a family owned and operated greenhouse and garden center that put down roots in Evergreen in 1986.
As the winter wears on each year, a sign in front of the popular business counts down the days until spring.
Early last month, palette after palette of perennial flowers, vegetables, herbs and more began to fill the greenhouses and are now ready to be planted in gardens across the Flathead.
A homegrown operation from the beginning, the family business began in a backyard in Lakeside, where founder and owner Bob Balding raised gladiolus bulbs to sell at the local farmers market.
Balding continued growing in a greenhouse behind the family’s garage before purchasing property on U.S. 2 East, where he built two large greenhouses and launched Plant Land.
Since then, the store has expanded into seven greenhouses at the Evergreen location, along with four more that serve as a grow site near Trumble Creek Road.
Growing up, Balding’s daughter, Michelle Grigsby, said she took a keen interest in her father’s business, working at the store throughout high school and returning home during the summers of her college years with the dream of one day calling the business her own. Grigsby now runs Plant Land alongside her father and husband.
Most of what the family sells they grow themselves in their greenhouses, excluding only some of the more tropical houseplants, which they ship from a grower in Florida, and trees and shrubs.
Plant Land specializes in custom containers, selling an average of around 2,600 in a season. Their work can be seen throughout the summer throughout downtown Kalispell, at Tamarack Brewing Co. in Lakeside and other businesses across the valley.
Whether their customers need upwards of 100 containers or are browsing for one or two to add some color to their outdoor patio, “there’s nothing we can’t do,” Grigsby said.
As a community oriented business, Grigsby said she and her staff hope to go beyond growing and selling plants.
They aim to ensure their customers receive the advice and help they need to start and maintain healthy, successful plants and gardens.
Grigsby said she walks her staff through the greenhouses for monthly meetings to educate them on the season’s plant stock and how to answer any questions about them.
“The customer can always come in anytime and ask questions,” Grigsby said. “If they’re new and need help, absolutely anytime, come in and ask questions.”
Each spring, Plant Land also hosts a series of free gardening seminars for the public, offering mini-classes on some of the basics needed for successful planting in Montana.
Participants need only walk in to learn about topics ranging from seed starting to advanced vegetable growing and more. The seminars start in March and continue through April.
Gardening has begun a resurgence as the economy has stabilized, giving people the opportunity to explore it as a hobby rather than a necessity, according to Grigsby.
“They’re realizing it’s therapeutic or they enjoy it or it gets them out with their kids or their grandkids or their great-grandkids,” Grigsby said. “Something they get to see grow themselves.”
The satisfaction of harvesting and eating homegrown produce draws many to try gardening at home, and many people grow to appreciate the difference in flavor between homegrown and store-bought fruits and vegetables, she said.
“Flower-wise, I think it’s a cheerful thing for a lot of people,” she added. “I think a lot of people just enjoy it.”
Much like the fashion industry, the plant business follows trends of different plants and vegetables dominating the market each year.
Recently, the flowers and houseplants popular in decades past are popular again with younger generations of growers.
Succulents have held their popularity for several years now as a less intimating, low-maintenance option for the less experienced grower, or those less invested in gardening.
Beyond the initial sea of fragrant green leaves and colorful blooms, Plant Land also offers the most extensive selection of pottery in the valley.
Pots, planters and baskets of every shape, size and material take up a third of the first green house.
Inside the gift shop, customers can find everything from fertilizer to insecticides, grow lights to seed starters and anything else they need to help their gardens bloom.
To view a schedule of events or for more information, visit http://www.plant-land.com/, call 406-756-7568 or visit the store at 1008 U.S. 2 East.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.