Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Burpee fails Heronswood

If you aren't a gardening junkie, the name "Heronswood" probably means nothing to you, but this Northwestern nursery is legendary and has probably done more to bring new species into popular cultivation than any other. The founders, Daniel J. Hinkley and Robert Jones started the nursury about twenty years ago and would travel the world collecting exotic plants to bring back and try out for gardening in the Northwest. The varieties they collected are amazing and their catalog was both beautiful and interesting, with their amusing descriptions of the different plants.

And now all that is shot to hell.

Thanks a lot, burpee. True, the burpee folks are being better than they could have been, but what did they do in this short time that took a successful company which they wanted to buy to turn it into a money drain? Don't suddenly say that it just won't make money. It did and now it is being uprooted and pulled apart. Just please, please let someone who can really take care of it buy those grounds and prevent further harm (Martha Stewart?).

I get annoyed with big companies that take over smaller successes and then take a successful formula and kill it by inflating it and then suddenly saying it couldn't work. No, it could have worked, it used to work, you just did it wrong and rather than try to adapt it, the movable stock is just swallowed into the larger company and the rest sort of cast off.

Whatever, I find this really depressing. Heronswood was this sort of mythical paradise kind of business. Its whole concept always appealed to me on so many levels and struck me as beautiful and inspirational that something like it could still exist in this crazy modern corporate world. Well, I guess it couldn't, but it was nice to believe in while it did. Thanks so much, Burpee. This is more than a business failure. I need to quit thinking about this.


Rosemary said...

I really get sort of tired of everbody lamenting the *apparant demise of Heronswood. Here is a nursery in the Pacific NW, which only claimed to find plants appropriate for that area, which was bought by a big nursery in the US east coast who thought a "hot" nursery would serve its customer base. Boy, was that a stupid mistake - none of the plants Heronswood offered seemed to thrive anyplace else but the PNW - hello? That is what those dudes collected, period, and most of that stuff didn't grow, period, in other areas.

West coasters adore these guys, but nobody who grows plants anywhere else will even miss them.

Anonymous said...

It was an asinine decision for Burpee to buy Heronswood in the first place. They should NOT dismantle a Pacific Northwest garden mecca just because they made a dumb corporate decision. Local (yes I live in Kitsap County, WA) garden enthusiasts were hoping to band together and buy the property, but that doesn't seem likely now that Burpee put a $11 million price tag on the 15 acres. They also did not treat the employees respectably, as they laid them off without any notice at all. No one should support a corporate wh*re of a company like Burpee! There is nothing stopping them from doing the same thing somewhere else.

Unknown said...

As an East Coast person, I'm happy that Heronswood moved out this way. It's allowed for me to go to the East Coast opens now. The last one was very good. Nice article here talks about the last one. Picked up some nice hellebores.,0,2361228.story

Future Opens

Anonymous said...

Paul is a spammer see

To Rosemary true Heronswood was specialized but Dan collected everything and sold them. Heronswood popularized many plants trying them first before others such as Arisaemas, Disporums, and Thalitrums. What many of us lament is the lossed possibility of new plants that Dan had a knack for finding. PS I am currently living in the Pacific Northwest but had lived on the east coast and know that people out east miss the old Heronswood as well.