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A Brief History of Busse Gardens

Busse Gardens originated as a small garden center in Cokato, Minnesota in 1973. As founders Ainie and Norman Busse developed their business, they recognized that there were few sources for quality perennials. The industry then, as it does to a lesser extent now, concentrated on annuals.

In particular, the Busse's recognized a need for a smaller, customer-service oriented business that could provide a wider range of plants than were otherwise available. While building the local garden center business, it became apparent to the Busse's that many people who weren't anywhere near Cokato had little or no way to purchase unusual perennials. They saw the opportunity to build a specialty mail order business and, in 1978, created the first Busse Gardens mail order catalog.

Busse Gardens mail order started with Peonies and Iris purchased from Minnesota collectors and a wide range of perennials acquired from all of the available sources. Ainie Busse built the company's reputation through lecturing and participation in professional and enthusiast's organizations.

The business grew and in 1986 a milestone was reached when the local garden center operation was sold so that Busse Gardens could concentrate on its mail order customers. All the time, the goal of Busse Gardens was, and it still is, to provide one of the broadest selections of hardy perennials available in sizes that will thrive in customers' gardens. The business has stayed small with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.

In the early years of Busse Gardens mail order business, perennials were not as well known and sought after as they are now. However, even then there was a market ready to learn about these "new" and useful plants. The bigger problem at that time was finding suppliers to provide initial plant stock for the business to propagate.

As the years passed, perennials caught on in a big way and today sources are available for thousands of selections. Additionally, development of new cultivars has skyrocketed, particularly in Genera such as Hostas, Heuchera, Hemerocallis, Iris and others. The rise of tissue culture laboratories has made supplies of the newer plants available so that they can be priced within the budgets of many gardeners.

In 1999, Ainie and Norman Busse retired from active management of Busse Gardens, transferring the mail order business to Gary Goldsmith and his partner, Alex Stolitza. After the transfer, Ainie continued to consult with and advise the new owners.

Although the business moved about 45 miles from its Cokato location, Gary and Alex have maintained the same business strategy of providing a wide range of hardy perennials in sizes that will do well in customers' gardens.

The company has re-dedicated itself to the core principals on which it was founded: Quality, Variety and Customer Service.

At the new location, significant advances have been made in the area of computerization of inventory control, order processing and customer record maintenance. This year, Busse Gardens opened its web site at www.bussegardens.com as an extension of its catalog, offering color photographs of the items in the catalog and information on availability.

New greenhouses have been added to ensure availability of plants by April 1 for our customers in warmer climates.

This year's big projects will be directed toward improvement of our 10 acre site and the development of display gardens.