Roots run deep for one local garden center. Zoellner’s Greenhouse LLC, Merrill, is celebrating two decades of business along with another green thumb generation.
Twenty years ago, owner Russell Zoellner sold $800 worth of plants out of his commercial rose production greenhouse. From there, the family business has grown into six greenhouses totaling over 10,000 square feet.
Russell wasn’t the first generation in his family to express an interest in plants, nor is he the last. His parents, Art and Barb Zoellner, commercially grew plants as the owners of Green’s Flower Shop, Merrill, from 1979 until retirement. Russell inherited the green thumb. With an interest in plants and the environment, Russell earned a BA in chemistry and biology from Northland College. He worked various environmental jobs before getting involved wit;h his parents’ business, later branching off into his own wholesale flower delivery business. It didn’t take Russell much longer to discover he found growing plants even more satisfying. “I can help people learn how to grow their own vegetables, and that’s pretty important,” said Russell.
Growing up, Russell’s kids each spent time helping out in the greenhouse, but none enjoyed it quite like April, who always volunteered first.
April graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau with a BA in marketing.
“I wanted to learn something my dad couldn’t teach me in a field I could express my creativity,” said April. After working in marketing several years, April returned to her roots and now manages day-to-day operations at Zoellners along with support from her father.
“My dad has always referred to the plants as his babies, and I get that. They’re my babies too. I love talking about them and will gladly offer gardening advice because it’s a topic I’m passionate about.”
Over the past couple years, April has added her own touches to the family business including a large variety of new plants.
“I have to try growing the plants I find most interesting. When I heard about a plant that reacts to sound, I bought seed from Hong Kong the very next day. We’re also growing citrus trees and air plants this year,” said April.
Zoellner’s Greenhouse, W4509 County Rd. C, Merrill, will host its annual open house this weekend from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. The open house kicks off the season at Zoellner’s which will be open starting next week from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.