The Perennial Farm Is The 2013 Operation of the Year

Rick Watson, The Perennial Farm

A wholesale grower of perennials and grasses, The Perennial Farm in Glen Arm, Md., was founded in 1981 and now spans 50 acres of highly efficient greenhouses and growing fields. The operation also grows hardy ferns, groundcovers, and flowering shrubs and vines, including the signature Treadwell Plants brand, one of the first brands to use QR coding, featuring videos by Dr. Allan Armitage.

The operation’s website, www.perennialfarm.com, markets The Perennial Farm as a price value leader and delivery specialists, committed to partnering with customers to deliver plants when they’re needed. Three other websites market Treadwell Plants, as well as consumer information on gardening with perennials, shrubs, grasses and native plants.

Rick Watson established The Perennial Farm based on a need he observed in the market when he co-owned a landscape design and installation business. While he was planting ornamental grasses and perennials for customers, he realized there was only availability of these plants in small containers, and no one was growing them in 1-, 2- and 3-gallon pots. He began growing larger plants on his own land to use in landscape jobs for greater impact. His father, who owned and operated the family’s nearby garden center, liked the idea and started buying perennials from Watson. Very soon, Watson was selling plants to all of the local garden centers.

Watson is proud of the efficiency he has incorporated into The Perennial Farm, based on observations he made during a visit to Belgium and the Netherlands in the 1990s. There, he says, land is a premium so it is used very efficiently. He learned how Dutch growers laid out their nurseries and turned over crops quickly. Watson does the same, maximizing space, with everything in containers from 4-inches to 3 gallons, and the operation propagates most of its own material. Its team of 75 employees is a mobile workforce, trained to work in different areas of the company and Watson is known for rolling up his sleeves and working alongside them, in any area that needs attention.

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