Willson Garden Center Celebrating 100 Years of Growth
“Families are like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.”
For the Willson family, their family tree has grown over the last 100 years. The Willson Garden Center in Petoskey has been serving their community from The Great Depression, The Recession, and now COVID-19. But they have managed to thrive through it all. This business is not like many, with six generations roaming the grounds, it’s not hard to see why they are so close.
“It’s such a great joy to have my own grandchildren here. And I realize how much joy it brought to the other generations. To see them coming so happy to see grandma and grandpa and ready to dig in the dirt…Since there’s been so many generations, we don’t want to let that go,” says Mary Willson, beloved mother, grandmother, and owner.
With three acres, five greenhouses, a nursery, pond, and plenty of plants — The Willson Garden Center has so much variety to accommodate each customer’s liking. But the only thing outnumber their flowers is their family memories.
“There’s so many memories here, it’s just amazing. Raising my children, knowing that my husband grew up here when he was a little boy, enjoying the pond that’s been here for probably 70 years, one of our greenhouses has been here for almost 90 of those years. This building we’re in right now, was built in the 60’s. So every building has its own memory,” says Mary.
But the most important aspect of their garden center is their love for helping the community.
Adam Willson, son, father, and manager says, “Whether it’s my grandma’s great generosity in opening a soup kitchen at her church, and helping to put on a weekly meal, for anybody who needs it. Then moving to our time, my mom was able to offer a small scholarship to some of our college students as they went back to school this past season.”
The Willson’s never hesitate to help. Their specialty is helping fellow gardeners get their hands dirty by growing something beautiful around their homes and to their kitchens.
Mary tells us that one of her favorite things about working at the garden center, “We’ve been able to be here for people who are in their happiest moments, getting ready for a wedding, and those who are in their saddest moments, who are burying a loved one and needing to buy flowers for the grave. And we’re able to be sharing their joy and their sadness. And I think that’s one of the most unique things.”
For the Willson’s, this is more than just a business, its a reflection of who and what they truly love. I guess they really do keep it in the family.
For more information on the Willson’s Garden Center, visit their website here.