waterloo gardens in exton closing end of summer

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On June 21st, 2013 business writer for the Philadelphia Business Journal Natalie Kosteini announced in an article titled Developer buys prime piece of Main Line real estate that  Malvern killer developer Eli Kahn has gobbled up and bought the Devon property once home to Waterloo Gardens.  Kahn is salivating over the property as per the article :

“How often does six acres on the Main Line on Route 30 across from a train station come up for sale?” Kahn said.

Kahn initially thought a multifamily project with some retail space would work for the site and be similar to a project Kahn is developing with Cornerstone Communities in Malvern, Pa., but those plans might change.

“It’s a phenomenal piece of real estate, and I didn’t anticipate the tremendous amount of interest from retailers,” he said. “I’m working on several different scenarios. Some with a multifamily component and some without.”

Kahn is hopeful he will have a concept to present to the township and neighborhood sometime this summer.

 

(For what it is worth if i lived next to Waterloo Gardens I would be contemplating a relocation as you know this will undoubtedly end up a cram plan next in an already congested area, right?)

So anyway, after Waterloo did the dance in Devon where they were fine and everything was simply marvelous until they closed Devon and moved all operations to Exton.

Waterloo customer card:A piece of local history and trivia after this August

Waterloo customer card:A piece of local history and trivia after this coming August

Waterloo Gardens also filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection about a year ago now – July 2012 according to Bob Byrne of TE Patch. And it wasn’t merely the decline in the construction business that killed Waterloo like Roberts LeBoutillier CFO said.  Their poor business planning following the takeover of the business by the current generation of family did it in my opinion.  Dumb things like an expansion to Delaware that never worked out, for example.  Insane price points in their stores would be another thing along with what appeared to have been changes to their core business.  When some of their long term staff started going elsewhere  you also didn’t have access to the same level of gardening advice you once had that when I was growing up that always seemed like it was a core principle you knew all was not peachy keen.  Until about seven years ago I could wander into Waterloo and spend hours checking out plants.  At that point in time, even if I did not buy something because they were always expensive , I always came away with future ideas for my garden.

It was a little too rose colored glasses when Waterloo Gardens told Today’s Garden Center at the end of July 2012 that they expected to emerge from bankruptcy in late 2012 and 2013.

The nursery and garden center business is not for the faint of heart.  It is a brutal business and very seasonable. Once upon a time years ago I took a career segue and because of my love of gardening and skill level with gardening I decided to try working for a nursery.  I worked for the then Bryn Mawr Feed & Seed which was located by that point on Montrose Avenue in Rosemont (it used to have a location I believe somewhere around Malvern when the brothers were alive).  Anyway by that point both  brothers  who originally ran this business were deceased and one of the widows ran the store.

That was the job where I learned that the fictional character Simon LeGree had nothing on that small business owner. Seriously it was awful and there we all were among all those beautiful plants.   I recall many things including being sent to the warehouse when single men came into the shop because the owner felt the younger daughter needed to shine at that point – it was so suburban Cinderella’s stepmother it was funny. However, I did learn with that experience that I did have serious gardening chops and for years after I left my great nursery job experiment I did garden consultations – in particular on roses and container gardening and window boxes.  But no joke, I learned first hand how tough the nursery business is.  The business there in the end was not sustainable, and the business shuttered and Smith & Hawkin rented and majorly renovated the space.  Smith & Hawkin lived in that location happily until that corporate tumble occurred. (I lovvvveeeed Smith & Hawkin)

So anyway for months people have been watching Waterloo and their remaining Exton location and then about three weeks ago or so many of us started hearing closing rumors again.

I confirmed it personally myself when I called the Exton location on North Whitford Road THIS MORNING and asked how much longer they would be open.  I was told that as far as employees knew they would be open through August 31st and a “going out of business” sale would start on Friday July 5th.

But you don’t see that information listed on their Facebook Page or website at this point. I know people, including other nursery owners, have gone to Waterloo this week to buy stuff  but was told even office supply junk being sold off was being over-priced so I will be curious to see what the liquidators do.  I wonder will they be paying people to stand on the highways around here in giant  plant costumes waving going out of business signs?

The bummer about this is that the Exton location was always the jewel in the Waterloo crown I thought.  That is where all the really awesome plants were.

Once upon a time Waterloo Gardens was something.  Now unfortunately they are another local business folding.   And that is a damn shame at the end of the day no matter what the root cause of business failure.

I will say that residents of Chester County are luckier than most because we have a LOT of wonderful nurseries.  I highly recommend Woodlawn Garden Center & Nursery in Malvern,  Somerset Nursery in Glenmoore (and Zionsville) and Del Vacchio Landscape & Garden Center in East Goshen.

Support your local nursery of choice.  You will be glad you did and you will get better plants.  Shop local!

 

 

 

 

 

prohibition alive and well in willistown?

Photo courtesy of Woodlawn Garden Center and Nursery

Photo courtesy of Woodlawn Garden Center and Nursery

Disclaimer: I am a customer of Woodlawn Garden Center and Nursery in Malvern.  I love the place, think the owners and staff are fabulous.  

So a while back I heard that Woodlawn was going in front of Willistown Supervisors to in essence get permission for a wine tasting room in one of the structures on their property.  (Those who patronize Woodlawn and live near by know the tremendous effort the owners of Woodlawn have put into a property that had prior to their ownership looked run down – and the property was loaded with all this odd statuary that made you wonder if whomever at the time was a hoarder or something.)

Well Willistown turned them down. They had LCB approval too. What I find interesting is Willistown seems to have no problem putting small businesses through their paces. I mean really?  An environmental impact and traffic study for what amounts to an interior decorating project and occasional wine tastings?  I have to wonder if Applebrook Golf Club wanted to do this would there be the same “issues”?  If Toll Brothers or say Bentley Homes wanted to do this would their be the same “issues”?

I mean did those fat cat supervisors in Willistown actually visit the site?  We’re not talking the Stables Bar in Phoenixville or the Alley Pub in Frazer.  Or some speakeasy.  What a crock.

Dumb with a capital D. I mean d’oh does Willistown even begin to understand the success that is the Brandywine Wine Trail for example? A lot of those wineries aren’t so far away from this location. And it isn’t like Blair Vineyards who was to be the partner in this  is some den of iniquity.

I wonder, will they burn books and ban farmers markets next?   Can it be said Willistown loves big developers and hates small businesses?

 

Here check it out on Patch:

Township Denies Garden Center’s Bid to Sell Wine

The Willistown Township Supervisors said Monday night that Woodlawn Garden Center had not gone through the necessary steps to sell wine.

By Pete Kennedy Email the author 2:18 pm

The Willistown Board of Supervisors denied a conditional use application that would have allowed Woodlawn Garden Center to sell wine at its location on Paoli Pike.

Woodlawn’s owners Dave and Rebekah Laughlin Bowser were planning to open a “wine garden” in partnership with Kutztown-based Blair Vineyards.

In a 3-0 vote Monday night, the supervisors rejected the garden center’s application, based on a recommendation from the township solicitor…..In an email sent before the decision, Rebekah Laughlin Bowser said they had received an approval letter from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, but still had to contend with local zoning regulations. She said Woodlawn had a legal right to sell wine from small, local producers as an agricultural product.

 

pumpkins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ask anyone who knows me – I love pumpkins.  I was at Sugartown Strawberries yesterday….so I photographed what else?  PUMPKINS.  Rows and rows of pumpkins, dozens and dozens of pumpkins piled in a jumble of orange. They tell me hay rides start next weekend!  Sugartown Strawberries is located at 650 Sugartown Road Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355.  Their phone number is (610) 613-0525 and you can find them on the web and on Facebook.

And on your way back and forth next weekend, also don’t forget to check out the fall fun at Woodlawn Landscaping & Nursery on Paoli Pike (they are right there at the intersection of Paoli Pike and Sugartown Road).

 

waterloo gardens files for bankruptcy protection

Waterloo Gardens , Exton PA 2008 (T.Bemis photo)

In March, I wrote a post called digging in the dirt. I mentioned then that Waterloo in Devon looked a little off.  Someone from Waterloo left a comment after the post went live:

Tracy Smith on March 26, 2012 at 10:19 am said

At Waterloo, we are gearing up for April weather – with a forecast of 20′s and 30′s at night, ther are just certain plant material that is not ready to ship.  Planting during 70 degree weather is great but now we are back to reality with temps. in the 50″s and cold nights again.  We aim to ensure planting success and receive material when it is timely.  Thanks for the insight though.  We really value your opinion and take comments quite seriously. Take care, Tracy Smith

It still kept looking not quite right every time I drove past the Devon store.  I kept hearing stories from people around that they were in dire straits.  Then in June came news they were indeed closing Devon.

Today comes the news they are filing for bankruptcy protection. You know, everyone is ballyboohoohooing this calling the Devon property “a landmark property” and sorry, that just makes my eyes roll.  It is 6 1/2 acres or thereabouts, but it is not landmark anything.  It is just commercial.

Patch is reporting rumors of a Terrain being built there, another nursing home (nursing homes along Route 30 in Chester County are the new nail salon, apparently), or a car dealership. They quoted Bobby LeBoutillier as he being the one to recount the rumors.

Look it is a major bummer to many that Waterloo is closing.  However, they still have Exton and quite frankly people should take a drive to Malvern to check out a smaller, family owned nursery Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery.  Or Somerset Nursery in Glenmore.  They have or can get anything a gardener would want and yeah I bet they can help you plant too.

Waterloo over-extended themselves.  They should have just stuck to what they know and kept it in Devon and Exton.  But they did not and they are paying the piper doubly bad due to the economy.

They told me today via Facebook that gift cards would be honored at the Exton store.

I have a friend from high school who owns a nursery in another state, her name is Tina Bemis.  Here is what she had to say today:

I happen to own a garden center in another state, and know that are garden centers are struggling right now.  We WANT to have the cool, different stuff, but as less and less people are real gardeners and more “plant decorators” it’s hard to carry cool stuff that just sits there, when the majority of people just want big flowers.

Also, we don’t WANT to be more expensive, but the big box stores often use our products to lure you into the store so they can then sell you other stuff.

You see those prices, and think we are expensive.  But they NEVER carry the cool, unusual stuff that you seek, and we are keeping those plants watered every day for when you come in.  And when you only choose to come in on the after Christmas sale, what are we supposed to do the rest of the year?

We MUST go for the plants with the biggest profit dollars (not necessarily margins).  That’s what businesses do.  They must, actually, or someone else will do it better, and they will go out of business.  Believe me, most garden centers are just barely staying alive right now.  There are so few of you real gardeners left, and our businesses got big with the baby boomer demographic.

As the older folks downsize, move to retirement homes, or pass on, the next generation is a) much smaller in numbers and 2) even further removed from the land.  In order to justify our own existence, we must also downsize, and that is probably exactly what Waterloo did.  I would love to carry only what I call “geek plants.”  But they won’t put food on my table. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Mind you, Tina and her nursery in my opinion is probably more like a slightly larger Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery in Malvern or like a Somerset Nursery.  And I have known Tina since I was a teenager (we were Shipley Sprouts together only she was MUCH MUCH better!) so I know she has a care with her clients.  Most of us ceased to get that care or feeling of caring in Devon years ago.  I do find that however, at the two nurseries I have mentioned in this post.

People can still visit them in Exton, which truthfully has been the best of their stores for years.  I stopped going to Devon years ago not only because of the prices, but because (as alluded to none too smoothly above) there existed in the Devon store an attitude that quite simply put, was not worth the money.  Devon as someone said to me to day was a glorified gift shop.  Certainly not the Waterloo of years ago.

So dry your eyes.  You might have to drive a little farther out but you still have one Waterloo if you must Waterloo.   And it is the best of the Waterloos, always has been. And if you are open to trying new things, it’s a big world out there with additional choices.

News : Waterloo Gardens files for Chapter 11

Waterloo Gardens files for Chapter 11;  Landscaping company files same day

Waterloo Gardens has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following plans to shut down its Devon location.

The garden center and Waterloo Landscaping, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 June 26.

Waterloo announced earlier in the month that it will be selling the original store and consolidating business at the 50-acre Exton location.

“I think the Exton store, out of the two, has a much better layout,” said longtime President Bobby LeBoutiliier of the announcement. “There is more room for cars to park, more coverage space for annuals shopping, and if it’s time to consolidate, out of the two, this is the one we want.”

Management had originally planned to keep the Devon location open through the end of the year, and possibly into spring of 2013. The store is now scheduled to close July 15.

The garden center, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in April, opened two new locations in 2007 – one in Wilmington, Del. And one in Warminster, Pa. The Warminster location closed in 2008. The Wilmington location closed in December of 2011.

Waterloo Gardens, Inc. on busbk.com says they filed June 26th.  Here is some other info:

Debtor

Waterloo Gardens, Inc. 200 N. Whitford Road Exton, PA 19341-2099 CHESTER-PA Tax ID / EIN: 23-1911696

Represented By

ALBERT A. CIARDI, III Ciardi Ciardi & Astin, P.C. One Commerce Square 2005 Market Street Suite 1930 Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215) 557-3550 Fax  : 215-557-3551 Email: aciardi@ciardilaw.com

JENNIFER E. CRANSTON Ciardi Ciardi & Astin, P.C. One Commerce Square 2005 Market Street, Suite 1930 Philadelphia, PA 19103 215 557 3550 Email: jcranston@ciardilaw.com

U.S. Trustee

United States Trustee Office of the U.S. Trustee

833 Chestnut Street Suite 500 Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 597-4411

Docket

Jun 26 #1 Chapter 11 Voluntary Petition. Fee Amount $1046 Filed by Waterloo Gardens, Inc.. Government Proof of Claim Deadline: 12/23/2012. Statement of Corporate Ownership due 07/10/2012. Corporate Resolution due 07/10/2012. Matrix List of Creditors due 07/3/2012. (CIARDI, ALBERT) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 Receipt of Voluntary Petition (Chapter 11)(12-16080) [misc,volp11a] (1046.00) Filing Fee. Receipt number 12089552. Fee Amount $1046.00. (U.S. Treasury) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #2 Corporate Resolution Filed by JENNIFER E. CRANSTON on behalf of Waterloo Gardens, Inc.. (CRANSTON, JENNIFER) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #3 20 Largest Unsecured Creditors Filed by JENNIFER E. CRANSTON on behalf of Waterloo Gardens, Inc.. (CRANSTON, JENNIFER) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #4 Matrix Filed. Number of pages filed: 2, Filed by JENNIFER E. CRANSTON on behalf of Waterloo Gardens, Inc.. (CRANSTON, JENNIFER) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #5 Document in re: Verification of Creditor Matrix Filed by JENNIFER E. CRANSTON on behalf of Waterloo Gardens, Inc. (related document(s) 4 ). (CRANSTON, JENNIFER) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #6 Document in re: Statement of Parties with Interest in Cash Collateral Filed by ALBERT A. CIARDI III on behalf of Waterloo Gardens, Inc.. (CIARDI, ALBERT) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #7 Expedited Motion to Use Cash Collateral Motion of the Debtor and Debtor-in-Possession for Order Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §363 to (I) use Cash Collateral and Provide Adequate Protection to Parties with Interest in Cash Collateral, (II) Pay Prepetition Wages and requests (III) an Expedited Hearing, Reduced Notice Period and Limited Notice Pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9006(c)(1) And E.D. Pa. L.B.R. 5070(f) Filed by Waterloo Gardens, Inc. Represented by ALBERT A. CIARDI III(Counsel). (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A# 2 Proposed Order (Expedited)) (CIARDI, ALBERT) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #8 Application to Employ Ciardi Ciardi & Astin as Counsel to the Debtor Filed by Waterloo Gardens, Inc. Represented by ALBERT A. CIARDI III(Counsel). (Attachments: # 1 Declaration# 2 Proposed Order # 3 Service List # 4 Notice) (CIARDI, ALBERT) (Entered: 06/26/2012)
Jun 26 #9 Amended Document Amended Declaration in Support of Debtor’s Application to Employ Ciardi Ciardi & Astin Filed by ALBERT A. CIARDI III on behalf of Waterloo Gardens, Inc. (related document(s)8). (CIARDI, ALBERT) (Entered: 06/26/2012)

 

 

 

oh deer!

Oh deer, indeed.  Never had deer as an almost daily yard critter before moving to Chester County.  And since the Retirement Vatican known as Hershey’s Mill apparently has the largest deer herd in Chester County, I am ever watchful.

Oh Deer!

On the roads.

…and in my garden.

I have until recently found my garden left unmolested.  Then the other day I notices something was making a salad out of hosta leaves here and there, the hosta flowers, and the day lily blooms.  And since I hadn’t invited Morticia Adams to tea, I know I have critter visitors.

So I know that deer really don’t like Irish Spring soap and the scent given off by human and dog hair.  So I have been spreading hair around my plants where not so close to the house and it seems to be working.  I also know dried blood will work (until it rains or a dog discovers it).

I asked a few plant folks I deal with for tips and product suggestions.  Rebekah from Woodlawn  Lanscaping on Paoli Pike at Sugartown Road and Catherine from Yellow Springs Farm on Yellow Springs Road were kind enough to reply.

First Catherine  from Yellow Springs says:

Our big dog, formerly there were two big dogs, makes the plant nursery possible. I find sprays help, and many herbal ideas help, but the big Shepherd/Doberman mix is irreplaceable.

Rebekah from Woodlawn says:

It’s nice to hear from you again!  I’m going to do you one better by asking my managers Max and Sue at Chadds Ford and Malvern, respectively, to weigh in on this since they each have their own favorite recommendations.

Gardening in deer habitats is a challenge we address with our clients everyday!  What we have found is that deer will eat ANYTHING and there really is no plant that is safe from browsing.  They tend to stay away from high fragrant and textured plants but, if they are hungry enough, will nibble on whatever is in front of them. : (

We do sell several deer repellant products such as Deer Scram, Deer Stopper and Liquid Fence.  Woodlawn also carries deer fencing which can be installed and removed when deer browsing is less, in the summer.  Customer favorites vary but the most popular brands of repellents are the ones that we carry that customers seem to return to ask for by name.   There are other products available commercially but so far our local customers tell us that the three brands I’ve mentioned are successful in repelling their deer herds.  That said, each herd does seem to have its own favorite plants to chew, and some will chew on plants that are usually left alone.

Here is a link to PSU’s recommended deer resistant plants.  http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/xj0020.pdf

Woodlawn sells most of these and anyone can call to check on availability.  610-459-8788 in Chadds Ford or 610-647-1300 in Malvern.

Finally,   I’ve gardened in three high deer density states, CT, NJ and now PA, where I’ve found that the solution is a combination of approaches.  There is no magic bullet to safeguard your landscape plants that are in deer habitat, aside from an 8 foot double fence with a driveway cattle grid.  I’ve literally tried everything.  I’ve tried electric fencing my beds, coyote pee, a radio playing, bars of soap, sparkly old AOL CDROMs hung from trees, a large barking boxer dog, a small yappy JRT mix, bb guns, Milorganite, homemade hot pepper sprays, a motion sensor water sprayer,  and every imaginable product available.  I’ve settled on dealing with deer browse when it happens by pruning and replacing, not planting heavily browed plants, and companion planting.  I’ve personally found that planting Egyptian walking onions (sold at Woodlawn Malvern) among my hostas keeps the deer from munching on them.  I leave Cleome seed volunteers and marigolds.  I plant Fritillaria Imperialis, Crown Imperial, near my tulips.  These are all highly aromatic and seem to keep deer away.  I also poke several sticks among my hostas so that when a deer bends down to take a bite it gets poked in the nose.  These approaches have all worked well for me and enabled me to plant many ornamentals that I would otherwise be feeding to the deer in my gardens near Valley Forge Park.

Thanks for asking and as soon as I hear back from my managers I’ll post their recommendations on our Facebook page too.

Happy Gardening!

I also asked a couple other places I patronize, Del Vacchio and Somerset, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet with their approaches.

I figure there is no one magic bullet (pardon the pun since many communities cull the deer herds and I have NO problem with that as face it man has eradicated a lot of their natural foes in the animal kingdom and development has gobbled up habitat), and you never know what will work.

I like to try more natural alternatives with things, when possible, but that is just me as a breast cancer survivor – I am much more aware of chemicals and interactions now. I hate to say it, but I do try to think pink and live green.

I would have asked Waterloo, but remember a while back when I made a comment about Waterloo in a post?  Where I said Devon did not look up to normal stuff in the spring?  Someone from Waterloo posted a reply, and interestingly enough June 1st brought local gardeners the news that Waterloo was closing.  I don’t know much about Exton, so if someone from Exton reads this post, or any other nursery I have missed reads this post and wants to add tips on keeping Bambi and his tribe at bay, the more the merrier.

I will close with a question: does Hershey’s Mill do anything about their deer population, or do they just leave it to other people outside the compound to deal with?  (I have found, however, that some of their residents are as dangerous on the road as deer.)

digging in the dirt.

Spring means gardening.  I love gardening and moving to Chester County means I can really garden again. Yes I will have critters to contend with, but I am so excited!

I have been on the hunt for hostas.  I love the ones with the big wide leaves.   I have also been on the hunt for other things, so I did the nursery cruise yesterday afternoon.

No, I did not stop at Main Line Gardens.   I already checked them out last fall and found them overpriced and snotty.  They think they are Waterloo Gardens, only they are not. And speaking of Waterloo, what is up with them?  On their website they say they closed the Wilmington, Delaware location, and yesterday when we drove past the Devon location it did not look so stocked for the season.  Usually by now there is more to look at driving by.

But back to fun: so there is a nursery which took over the old Potters on Paoli Pike called Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery.   They also have a location in Chadds Ford.

We drove in not knowing what to expect and not only did I find everything I needed yesterday but the people were friendly and knowledgable and the prices were more than reasonable.    This nursery is a throw back to the ones I loved when I was younger: loaded with good plant material and doesn’t have a cafe and gift shop in the middle of it.  Sorry, but I am an old school gardener – I make my own coffee and when I want a gift shop I will visit one.  When I want plants, I visit a nursery.

I have more gardening to do, and another nursery on my list is Somerset Nursery in Glenmore and Zionsville.  It has an excellent reputation as well.

Visit Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery in Malvern at 359 Paoli Pike.  Their phone is 610-647-1300.  Visit Somerset Nursery in Glenmore at 1697 Pottstown Pike.  If you decide to visit them because of this blog post, tell them that you saw them on chestercountyramblings. And no, they do not compensate me for writing about them.

But seriously people, it’s time to get your gardening on.  I know a lot of you out there think gardening means it is done by other people but in your yard, but truly, that’s not it.

Get out there, dig in the dirt.  Create.  Get messy.  Get dirt under your nails you can always get a manicure.  It’s good for you and fun!  I started gardening early as a little girl with my father.  He introduced me to my love of roses and two gardens ago I had 67 different varieties (until the then new homeowner tore them out).  As a matter of fact, many  MANY  moons  ago I  wrote a couple of articles for the American Rose Society on rose gardening.  One still exists and you can read it by CLICKING HERE.

Feel free to share your favorite local Chester County plant sources with me as well and happy gardening!!!