How did Meadowlark Ornamentals get started?
My husband, Derek, and I started Meadowlark in 2020 with an empty field and a dream. We both spent years in the Colorado nursery industry gaining valuable on-the-job experience. Between the two of us, we have done just about every industry job there is. With a simple sheet of graph paper we mapped out the plans for our dream, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work. The two of us singlehandedly built our operation from the ground up and continue to pursue our passion for plants.
What distinguishes your company from others?
We grow resilient, quality plants in Colorado for Colorado. Having hardy, locally grown plant material that can stand up to our tough climate brings the most value to our customers. We primarily grow perennials and grasses for the wholesale market. We also custom-grow product for specialized jobs needing local, native plants or bulk plantings. Our plants are grown in a manner that builds strength both above and below the soil which allows them to thrive. We grow in a custom soil specially formulated to grow healthy plants backed by robust root systems that transition well into the landscape. We practice a wet to dry method which allows our plants to suffer less stress and shock when planted in the landscape.
What market trends are shaping your business strategies?
There is always demand for the staple bread-and-butter, bulletproof perennials and grasses on every job. Yet, we have noticed a steady increase in demand for a wider variety of native and xeric plants that can set a project apart from others. We believe landscapers and developers are starting to put more focus on being waterwise, catering to native pollinators, and providing a hardier landscape that can handle Colorado’s harsh environment.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a nursery from scratch?
Work as many positions as you can and develop your understanding of the necessary processes to have a successful business. Treat every opportunity and task at hand as a learning opportunity. Know that there will always be curveballs and more to learn – no matter how prepared you may think you are. Thinking outside the box and using your ingenuity to problem solve is key to enable you to do more with less. Most horticultural businesses are expensive to run and have large startup costs so save your money, have a budget, be realistic, and remain flexible.
Do you incorporate sustainability into your business?
Everything we do is centered around sustainability. Even our hoop houses are constructed out of recycled material from the local oil and gas industry. We work with other members of the industry to reuse nursery containers to ensure that, collectively, we get as much use out of them before they are ultimately recycled. We use locally sourced, renewable materials in our custom soil blend. Not only does our soil help our plants thrive in the nursery, but it increases survivability rates in the landscape. This reduces warranties and bolsters consumer confidence within our industry.
Why did you join CNGA?
We feel that CNGA facilitates valuable collaboration and networking between members. We enjoy seeing other nurseries and meeting with other members to learn how we can operate more efficiently. There are also great opportunities for continuing education at ProGreen with a wide range of sessions. CNGA makes it easy for us to stay abreast of legislative issues and participate in many networking events.