Annie Huston has always had a love of plants. Her father grew vegetables for the family in her native home of France. Her first date with her husband, a landscape architect, was to buy plants.
So when the Birdsall & Co. garden store on South Broadway was about to shutter in 2012, she stepped in. The owner of the store, which opened in 1988, had decided to retire. He initially wanted to close the store, but the Hustons offered to buy it.
“What I wanted to continue was the legacy of what Birdsall was in Denver,” said Huston, who lives in Washington Park. “I was not interested in renaming it or anything. I wanted that to continue.”
Huston, 59, now co-owns the store with her 30-year-old daughter, Morgan. The whole family, including Huston’s husband, Scott, and son, Owen, also work there. When the family first took over, Birdsall was part of Antique Row on South Broadway in Denver. In 2016, the Hustons decided to move the store nearly 13 blocks south to its current location, 2870 S. Broadway in Englewood. The space was larger, and had a parking lot, which was key for Huston. It also made loading large pots into the store easier.
“Broadway is really busy. We had to load in the street,” she said. “But we were sad to leave there — the Antique Row community is supportive.”
The family is looking to grow with more stores in different communities.
In March, the family opened a second location in Denver’s River North neighborhood at 3040 Blake St. Customers from Boulder and Colorado Springs have often said to Huston they want stores to service those areas, and she hopes to eventually accommodate them.
Huston has noticed a difference in the way customers in her two stores buy plants. The RiNo store is more dedicated to adventurous gardeners who want to know more about the plant itself. The store also offers education classes on gardening.
But because RiNo is also filled with people living in small apartments, the plants in that store are usually smaller in size, Huston said. “In RiNo, a 10-inch plant is a huge plant.”
In Englewood, plants are often more decorative, Huston said.
Huston first moved the United States in 1989 to attend the University of Denver. She hasn’t moved far from the location since.
The Hustons also ran a landscape design business, Columbine Design, when they first took over Birdsall. But last year, Huston said they shut down that business to concentrate on the stores. In addition to selling plants and pots, Birdsall also offers some garden furniture such as benches and fountains. Keeping their toes a little bit in the landscape design world, Huston said they also offer consulting to people about their garden space.
For her own garden, Huston prefers “non-fussy plants,” such as pileas, which is also called the Chinese money plant. She dislikes succulents because she has a tendency to over-water them.
She recently returned home to France to visit her 98-year-old father. While there, Huston had him write out his planting schedule for her, which is dictated by the moon. No matter where she was gardening, her father would always have advice for when to plant and when to harvest.
“It was not just hobby gardening — it was to feed the family,” she said. “He was right all the time.”
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