While the core team behind Maple Grove’s Lynde Greenhouse & Nursery might not always have state temperatures on their side, these designers, growers and caretakers are certainly onto something West Coast-like in nature. Affable and educated, they spread their enthusiasm through gardens of all sizes, strongly encouraging the scenery as long as the warm-weather window of the Midwest stays propped open. To this staff, landscaping must not lie dormant—it must pop, providing a personal getaway from the ordinary (or at least the inevitable first frost).
Founded in 1896 by Charles Horace Lynde and his wife Margaret, the company was conceived as a small vegetable-growing business. Now, Lynde is in its fifth familial generation, with a greenhouse spread over four-plus acres and its business model completed by a neighboring garden center. These expansions, combined with the staff’s willingness to tackle any project no matter how ambitious have clearly been the secret to Lynde’s success. And though it has been over a century of cultivating, installing and preserving Maple Grove properties, both commercial and residential, they still show no signs of slowing down.
“I’ve always loved the idea of making the outside of your house just as part of your home as the inside,” says Lynde sales and marketing manager Mindy Krueger, who traded in an office cubicle for greenhouse work and is now in her tenth season. “Because of our climate, we have to take full advantage of the short seasons. It’s about working with what you have, not against it, to get what you want.”
This in-touch yet can-do attitude about Lynde has made them the natural choice to outfit The Shoppes and Fountains at Arbor Lakes Shoppes mall areas. A popular Minnesota destination, this outdoor collection of shopping and dining amenities understandably requires a property with beautiful, escapist qualities. And the hot tub-sized stone planters, plentiful hanging baskets and elegantly spaced flower beds look so natural; it’s easy to forget the year-round work required to keep things pretty, happy and healthy.
At the end of each August, Lynde landscape designer and farm-raised horticulture devotee Allison Slabbert blueprints Arbor Lakes’ look for the upcoming year. All 10,600 square feet for the ground beds, as well as the 232 for planters and the 132 for baskets, must be accounted for. “There’s a lot more detail to designing and planting, a lot more behind-the-scenes work, than people might think,” Slabbert explains. “But I love it because you get to be creative and be outside. And because plants are beautiful.”
Beautiful, yes, but also high-maintenance: by September, all designs must be finalized and the seedling versions of Slabbert’s chosen plants and flowers ordered. When all the baby botany has arrived, it very carefully gets planted and nursed in Lynde’s greenhouse until the first blooming. Meanwhile, the staff keeps The Shoppes and Fountains looking sharp with winter evergreen arrangements of sparkle trees, wreaths and spruce tips. Once the chill has settled and spring has sprung, usually in late April, everything is taken outdoors; May means amending the soil with compost and then filling all ground beds, planters and baskets with flora, shaping and hanging as necessary.
Throughout the summer months, the Lynde team must follow a strict system, including daily hosing with ph-balanced water, weekly inspections, pruning and weeding. As the heat fades and leaves start to fall, Slabbert begins her exhausting design process anew.
In the end, the Lynde staff relies on the power of plants to strengthen their surroundings and their selves. The key is to keep thinking they are invincible to unavoidable obstacles to ensure colorful, eye-catching displays and, most importantly, ultimate customer satisfaction. “We do try and top it year after year because we want to make their shopping experience a lot nicer,” says Slabbert. “The breeze, the smell of the blossoms—all of these things just put you in a good mood.”
Observant shoppers have taken notice of Lynde’s dedication over the years, approaching the company with similar desires for their own backyard paths, ponds and shade gardens. Arbor Lakes’ employees too have plenty to say about Lynde’s attention to detail and the positive, hands-on outlook they retain.
“They do a fabulous job and we’ve never had any reason to consider making a change,” The Shoppes marketing director Jennie Zafft praises. “We’ve gotten a lot of compliments from shoppers and tenants. Before I worked here, when I came [through The Shoppes], I felt like I was in California. It really sets this whole area apart.”
Michael Grenander, Shoppes’ general manager, did little to hide his appreciation for the Lynde touch—and he has been around the block and back with property management since 1979. “They’re at the head of the class,” he says, proudly. “They’re reliable and willing to work with you, and their responsiveness is superlative.” However, despite all appearances, it seems there is one big glaring problem.
“The thing they don’t do very well,” Grenander says, “is control the weather.”