Local nursery moves from outskirts to Main Street

Conrad Osborne, owner of Aspen Grove Nursery, stands ready to wait on customers at the business’s new location at 1101 Main St. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Aspen Grove Nursery (AGN) has moved to a new location in downtown Evanston, next to Ivory & Iron at 1101 Main St. The nursery has created a beautiful environment in what was once an empty lot. After losing the previous location off Hwy. 150, nursery owner Conrad Osborne said, with the encouragement of friends, he and his wife Jessica decided to move to the lot downtown. The nursery also has a bulk yard for trees at 246 Wasatch Rd.

“We decided to scale down and start small here and it has been a good move,” Osborne said. “We are a design and build company and that includes landscape maintenance, planting, installing irrigation systems, pavers, retaining walls and more — everything from the ground up. When people say, ‘Tell me what I should do with my yard,’ we work through a design with them.”

Osborne has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a background in landscape architecture from Utah State University in Logan, Utah. His full-time employment is with the City of Evanston in collection and distribution.

When AGN takes on a large job, Osborne works with the customer in the fall and winter to design a plan for their yard so they can begin work as soon as the weather permits. AGN is able to continue to monitor completed projects and irrigation systems from year to year by offering landscape maintenance and irrigation system winterization.

In choosing a type of grass, Osborne recommends multiple varieties of Kentucky bluegrass with a fescue and rye grass blend. Due to the harsh winters and drought conditions of the area, he said he “absolutely recommends” xeriscaping with an installed drip system; using native plants including: penstemons, blanket flower (Gaillardia), columbine and blue flax, which the nursery stocks.

“When planting trees,” Osborne said, “the best time to plant was 20 years ago, the second-best time is right now. Our short growing season and cool climate limits our growing and planting season. When planting a tree, you need to give it at least 10 to 15 gallons of water immediately and then soak the soil every one to two days after planting for two to three weeks.”

Presently, Aspen Grove Nursery stocks a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. They have apple and plum trees, a variety of berry shrubs and in the early spring they handle vegetable garden plants.

“Jessica handles the nursery plant orders, displays, coordinates the work schedules and the bookkeeping,” Osborne said. “She is tremendous at making the nursery successful. Also, I am really grateful to our family and friends who help us out in many ways.”

AGN currently employs nine high school students, who help with the landscaping. Osborne offers training for them and said, though it is a big learning curve for all, “the kids are great people.” Most come back every season and work for at least two years. His wife Jessica, handles the daily sales at the nursery with one employee, Devyn Martin. Osborne spends his Friday and weekends off from his city job working at the nursery.

“We hope to expand what we offer at a later date but for now we will stay small,” Osborne said. “Some gardeners here know what they want and we are able to accommodate specific requests but the busier we get the harder it is to take care of everyone.”