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Friday, November 16, 2018

Rooted in the South Mountain

It is not too surprising that Gary and Sharon Petterson have a deep interest in youth programs, and in particular 4-H.  Through a meeting at a 4- H convention in Chicago, they met, married and eventually established Gardener’s World and Gardener’s Eden Landscaping, a successful family owned and operated business based in South Mountain District.
The Petterson’s began by selling citrus and olive trees in 1971 at Gardener’s World original location in Glendale. Taking advantage of opportunities, and a greater interest in exploring plants indigenous to Arizona, Gary Petterson created his own mulch, Green World Mulch. With the success of that venture, he began searching for a larger location to house the expanding business. By 1976 the need for more land necessitated moving operations to the current location at 3401 E. Baseline Road.
“Trust and hard work, working together, hanging in there,” is how Sharon Petterson describes the key ingredients that turned their one-time, home-based business into one that currently employs 45 people and includes  professional landscaping and gardening services. 
The initial move to South Mountain was not an easy one, however.
Although the climate in South Mountain is conducive to growing, bankers were rather reluctant to finance businesses moving into this section of Phoenix at the time.  For Gary Petterson, the move was a clear-cut choice.  He is not at all surprised by the expanding growth the area is now witnessing, or its new found popularity.  According to Sharon Petterson, he always had a clear vision that saw beyond the present.
Then again, that vision is not surprising when looking over his extensive background in the field. With 35 years as a horticulturalist behind him, Gary Petterson’s resume includes having been the gardening editor for Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine, Gary the Gardner on K.P.H.O. Television, a county agent for the University of Arizona Extension Service, Vice Chair of the Gilbert Arizona Design and Review Board along with numerous other titles.  Sharon Petterson, who serves as C.E.O of Gardener’s World has an equally impressive service resume with stints as President of the Arizona Nursery Association, National Chair of the Farm Bureau Horticulture Advisory Committee, President of the Maricopa County Fair and time as an Extension Agent for the University of Arizona Extension Service. She also handles much of the day-to-day operations of the business directly.
In addition to Gardener’s World, in 1998 Gardener’s Eden was formed to install residential landscaping for their clients.  Since its inception they have expanded to become licensed for both commercial and residential clients.  Recent commercial clients include the Coronado Ranch, Grand Canyon University and Village at South Mountain.
With water conservation becoming an issue, and the greater interest in creating more elaborate gardens and water features in homes, the Petterson’s have made it just a little bit easier for the novice gardener.  Gardener’s World offers a set of free workshops that cover topics according to the time of the year. With the landscaping end of the business, Gardener’s Eden also offers free Saturday morning classes to help clients maintain their landscaping via free landscaping design classes.   They also produce their own newsletter with tips, and information on programs and classes as well. As an interesting side note, 95 percent of everything they sell is literally home grown.
This December 2nd marks the company’s  20th Annual Poinsettia Festival and Craft show.   This traditional event held at Gardener’s World showcases a display of more than 25,000 poinsettias in every shape and color seemingly possible.  A highlight to this event is the self guided tour of a 45,000 square foot green house filled with, of course, poinsettias.  Adding to the festivities are arts and crafts, food vendors and a professional photographer available as well, by appointment. If you are the point-and-shoot type, your camera is most welcome. A nice part to all of this is that admission is absolutely free, and there are activities for the entire family.  This includes a free wagon ride pulled behind a tractor no less. The festival runs December 2,3,4,9,10,11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For those that enjoy volunteerism, and seeking something unique to do on a weekend, Gardener’s World is actively seeking volunteers willing to lend a helping hand for the up coming Poinsettia Festival. For your time and effort, Gardener’s World offers a $ 25.00 gift certificate as a thank you for your contribution.
Growing South Mountain has changed not only by growth, but in terms of the businesses that once existed in numbers.  As the original flower farms vanish, or transform, a few long time concerns are still around.  But the Pettersons have managed to hang on and hang in while others have not, which begs the question– what is the secret?
“Sheer hard work, and stupidity,” were the key ingredients a joking Gary Petterson responded when asked the question of what makes a concern like this one thrive. But the most telling part of the answer arrived when he added, “It is a passion.” 

Gardener’s World

3401 East Baseline Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85042
602-437-0700 voice
Monday through Saturday 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Gardener’s Eden Landscaping
3401 East Baseline Road
Phoenix AZ 85042

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