It is flower delivery day at Gardenstore, and the inner chambers of this Lawson Hill retail business have taken on an even more enchanted air than usual. Armloads of creamy orchids, radiant peonies and rich ranunculus deliver a heady impression of spring as they’re gingerly packed into the cooler – despite the fickle Telluride weather blowing outside.
While the vibrant hues and fresh aroma of the store’s new stock of cut flowers threaten to seize all interest, the shades and textures occupying other corners of the cozy space do their part to attract the attention of visitors as well. Moss-encased branches stand upright in a copper vase next to a collection of earthy stone and ceramic flowerpots. Shiny metal watering cans sit on shelves, surrounded by an assortment of wreaths and bunches of pastel-colored dried roses. A water fountain trickles in the far side of the room, where it is encircled by a few pieces of classic Smith and Hawken outdoor furniture.
Standing amid Gardenstore’s eclectic bounty, one could experience sensory overload.
“It’s an experience to come in here,” says Gardenstore’s owner, Kristin Undhjem – a self-proclaimed garden lover with a green thumb. “It’s a happy place to be, from how it feels when you walk in, to how you’re treated when you’re here. There is no bad garden advice going out this door.”
Gardenstore, which opened in the spring of 2006, was fashioned loosely after a famous garden center and nursery Undhjem worked at in Rhode Island, called Peckham’s Greenhouse. Peckham’s, in operation since 1892, is something of a landmark among East Coast gardening circles. Undhjem recalls Peckham’s as “a dreamy place,” and working there as her “most favorite job ever.”
While the small retail shop in Telluride’s Lawson Hill is a far cry from Peckham’s huge garden center by the sea, Undhjem says the overall ambiance is very much the same.
“People love to talk about their gardens, and when people come here, we want to hear about them,” she says. “Someone may have little more than a two-by-two plot, but it’s where they sit and drink their coffee every morning. I know how important those things are…I love gardening, too.”
Gardenstore is just one element of Undhjem’s professional landscape; she also has a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has operated a landscape architecture business, KSLA Design, in Telluride since 1999. Her landscape architecture business later prompted the creation of KSLA On-Site, her landscape maintenance company. Through the growth of both her Design and On-Site businesses, Undhjem began to realize the potential of opening a retail space in Telluride.
“I would have all these wonderful flowers and garden things, but no one to look at them,” she says. “I figured they should at least have a showroom.”
A space became available just a few doors down from her KSLA Design office in Lawson Hill late in the winter of 2006, and despite juggling the many commitments of running two different businesses as well as looking after her one-and-a-half year old son, Undhjem decided to expand her repertoire to include “retail business owner.”
Her eclectic collection of flowerpots, water fountains and other garden accessories finally had a place to live, and soon after opening in March she decided to bring in cut fresh flowers as well. In addition, she is an authorized retailer for Smith and Hawken, a well-known outdoor furniture and garden products company
“I was yearning to get back into that side of it – I missed the plants, the flowers, all the garden stuff,” Undhjem says of her work pre-Gardenstore. “I just didn’t want to lose touch with all of that.”
After nearly a year-and-a-half in the new retail space, Undhjem has indeed accomplished the goal of staying “in touch.” She has clients that request weekly floral arrangements, and to meet their needs has many of her flowers delivered to Gardenstore the same day they are cut, either flown in from California or delivered by a local grower.
Gardenstore underwent a remodel this spring, in which the space was expanded to include a larger office area for KSLA Design and more floor space for outdoor furniture and garden accessories.
The new space is open in Lawson Hill next door to the Eco-Cleaners, at 164 C. Society Turn Drive. For more information contact Undhjem at 728-7050.