OHG: A Dream, Hard Work, & Friends
As you may have heard, I’m retiring in May. But don’t panic. My beloved crew is determined to keep OHG going.
They’re all incredibly skilled and dedicated, and with their combination of youthful enthusiasm and mature experience, I believe they can make it work. And I’ll be sticking around to help a bit (though not too much, as I keep assuring my wife).
I’ve always said OHG is more than just a business. We’re a world-wide community of friends and partners, and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done together.
I’ll miss you more than I can say, but Toby and Jane are waiting for me, and it’s time for other dreamers to take a turn. Please give them your support – and happy gardening!
1959: Inspired by my grandmother and love of nature, I plant my first garden at seven.
1980: I buy my first old house and discover a single white peony and other garden relics. Wanting to know more, I end up getting a master’s degree in historic preservation.
1983: I launch Old House Gardens, offering research and consulting in landscape history.
1985: Old-House Journal publishes my first article, on carpet-bedding. 12 more follow.
1993: Appalled when the last US source drops ‘Prince of Austria’ tulip, I mail 500 copies of my first tiny catalog. Complete strangers send me money and encouragement.
1996: Sales zoom, Garden Design spotlights our tulips, and giddy with optimism – and the support of Jane, best wife ever – I leave teaching for full-time bulb selling.
1998: A local teen helps us launch a primitive website. Bill Finch of the Mobile Press-Register calls us the best source for Southern bulbs – as he has every year since.
1999: Charlie the cat comes to work, and before long he’s gained hundreds of fans.
2003: My sister Marcy upgrades our website. Now customers can actually order from it!
2005-6: I lecture at the Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia Garden Shows, and The Christian Science Monitor dubs me “the Indiana Jones of Heirloom Bulbs.”
2009: Colonial Williamsburg asks us to supply all bulbs for their historic gardens. We sadly abandon all but one of our incredible cannas due to world-wide virus problems.
2010: Ending our search for a farm, we commit to urban micro-farming on scraps of land in Ann Arbor. “I love this company,” writes Southern Living’s Steve Bender.
2011: We move out of the house into a new “green” office in our historic barn/garage.
2013: I plant bulbs with Martha again (it’s fun!) and Toby the rat terrier joins our crew.
2014: Country Gardens spotlights our micro-farms and editor James Baggett, a long-time supporter, praises us as part of a “new generation of sustainable farmers.”
2016: I finally bring myself to tell my crew I’m retiring . . . and a few days later they tell me they want to keep OHG going. Life is good. Save the Bulbs!
For catalog covers and more of our story, see “Our First 20 Years.”