For 25 years, Birdsall & Co. enticed gardeners to read gurgling fountains, chic outdoor furniture, sturdy bars, unusual pottery, statues, lighting and other neat garden tools.
Owner John Ludwig opened his business on 1540 S. Broadway at just 500 square feet and eventually expanded to 3,700 square feet and 8,000 square feet of outdoor showrooms.
That’s more than a quarter of an acre in the garden.
Ludwig plans to increase the stakes and to retire on October 1st. But it won’t be the end for the Denver lifestyle institution.
“The name Birdsall goes on, which is wonderful,” said Ludwig, who baptized the shop with his mother’s maiden name. “Customers will be happy that the business is being taken over by creative people.”
Scott and Annie Huston, husband and wife of Denver landscaping company Columbine Design, nearly signed the new owner contract. They intend to keep the Birdsall brand, known for high quality and sophisticated aesthetics.
But the Hustons will make significant changes. For starters, they are open on Sundays. (The store closes Monday through September 30th for final cleanup and then reopens on October 1st.)
The new store will be more into social media but will not sell anything online. “I think people have to come and touch and see and feel,” said Annie Huston. “My dream is to create a place of beauty where you can browse and have a little peace and quiet. We hope to be able to serve coffee, tea and water at some point. … We really want to become the ragged cover of gardening stores – a community space where people can wander around freely and enjoy. “
In the last generation, when the growing seasons in Denver came to an end, Ludwig’s business also went into a semi-dormant state. The Hustons plan to have fall and winter parties in the store.
“For the first time, Birdsall’s will be offering fall items and it’s going to be a full-blown Christmas,” said Huston. “I love the holiday season and we’re going to cut trees and fresh wreaths and berries and branches. I refuse to wear anything artificial. “
She said the store will set up a library of reference books for customers looking for inspiration and offer hands-on classes on how to build terrariums, make winter arrangements, or plant spring containers.
In the shop’s courtyard, they are planning to build themed vignettes such as a Provence garden, a roof garden and water gardens. Columbine Design’s landscape architects could help homeowners with garden plans.
The Hustons will also sell plants, particularly unusual species, or more common plants in spectacular colors. The selection of goods is guided by Annie’s native French speaker.
“I like simple elements that are elegant. They go deep into people on a level they don’t recognize and make them feel like they are a certain way, ”said Huston.
“I don’t look at the popular color this year or ask, ‘Do I want something modern or classic? ‘I look at the general emotion that a piece evokes in me. ”
The Hustons will stock goods from Colorado artists and artisans, as well as one-of-a-kind items from their international travels.
“We’re going to have some meet-and-greet-the-artist celebrations throughout the year,” she said.
Ludwig, a trained landscape architect, opened Birdsall & Co. when he was tired of the rigors of the design and construction industries. “I’ll miss the customers,” he said. “We have become good friends.”
Ludwig and his wife plan to spend six months a year in Denver and the other six at their Michigan home on a large lot in front of a small lake.
“It’s a piece of heaven. The house is right on the shore of the lake and there are no engines on the lake, so it’s totally quiet, ”said Ludwig.
The Ludwigs want to go kayaking, travel and of course work in the garden.
“We have a huge vegetable garden,” said Ludwig. “Gardening is nutritious.”
During the transition of business, Birdsall & Co.’s retirement sale offers significant discounts on most remaining merchandise.
Colleen Smith’s novel “Glass Halo” is set partly in the gardens of Denver.