Petree Garden Center and Florist General Manager Laural Hardin, left, and Los Alamos Landscaping & More Co-Owner Rachel Wehner stand below the hanging flower baskets that the two businesses teamed up to provide to the community. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Craig and Rachel Wehner, owners of Los Alamos Landscaping & More, ran into an unpleasant surprise in February. Their grower, who was contracted for the flowers and plants to fill the hanging baskets that decorate the lampposts in downtown Los Alamos every summer, decided not to do it. The grower explained that the flower business isn’t nearly as attractive as the marijuana business, which left the Wehners holding empty flower baskets, wondering what to do.
Enter Laural Hardin, general manager of Petree Garden Center and Florist, to the rescue. She, along with the staff at the Petree Nursery & Greenhouses in Taos, worked to grow and cultivate the flowers and plants in time to hang the flower baskets in May.
“We were in a lurch (and) we went to Laurel and Mike (Mike Petree, the owner of Petree Garden Center) … and they pulled some strings … and grew the baskets themselves,” Rachel said.
This was a challenge because typically greenhouses begin the ordering and growing process in January and Los Alamos Landscaping & More received its unwelcomed news in February. There were logistics to consider, Hardin added, but the Taos Petree Nursery & Greenhouses dedicated one of its 11 greenhouses to the hanging baskets. They grew the plants for 150 baskets. Rachel said 144 are hanging but they have extras just in case some need to be replaced. Hardin added May can be a tough month because its’ weather is unpredictable; Rachel noted that it hailed a little while the baskets were being hung this year.
But the efforts paid off because the hanging baskets, filled with petunias, Sweet Alyssum and other flowers, now adorn the posts. And Rachel said they couldn’t be more pleased.
“It was awesome that a local business helped make it happen,” she said.
“Obviously we have a close relationship and if we can make this work for all of us, it’s a win-win,” Hardin added. “We’re really excited to work to make (future baskets) bigger and better and we were glad to step in and be a pinch hitter.”
Not only were beautiful flowers cultivated but so was a new partnership between the two businesses.
“We will definitely go back to Petree Garden as long as the County approves the contract,” Rachel said. “We have been working with the County to provide and maintain hanging baskets each year for the Los Alamos downtown since 2009.”
“Our working relationship is perfect,” Hardin said. “The stars aligned, we compliment each other … the more collaboration we have, the more we can do for the community.”
There has always been a symbiotic relationship between Los Alamos Landscaping & More and Petree Garden Center and Florist. Not only does the garden center lease its space from the landscaping company but Rachel pointed out that Los Alamos Landscaping can deliver any plants Petree Garden customers cannot transport themselves and if Los Alamos Landscaping & More has a customer who needs expertise on a certain plant, they can be referred to Petree Garden.
“We can do a lot more together than on our own,” Hardin said.
Collaboration is something both businesses encourage other local retailers to do.
“It’s not easy to be a business in Los Alamos,” Rachel said, adding that “Everybody needs support.”
Retail, especially, Hardin said.
“I would love to see businesses that are here have a dialogue about what is in their stores so there isn’t overlap,” she said.
As a result, Hardin said she feels that there would be “more choice, more options, which would be better for the community and better for the shopper.”
Thanks to this new partnership, the community can enjoy the flower baskets all summer. Rachel said for one season, they didn’t need to be removed until October.
Rachel also credited the Los Alamos County Parks Department, which awards the contract for the hanging baskets as well as works hard to ensure the sprinkler system is working to keep the baskets thriving.
Petree Garden and Florist, 2470 East Road Ste. C, opened in 2018 but Petree Nursery & Greenhouses in Toas has been in business since 1988.
As for Los Alamos Landscaping & More, Craig started the landscaping business when he was 15 years old with a youth business grant from the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation in 1992. It opened its current location, 2470 East Road, in 2017.