Winterland Nursery began in the early 1960’s as Ames Ornamental Shrubs. Located off Syene Rd in Fitchburg, Gene and Marlene Winters bought the small nursery and changed the name to Winterland in the late 1960’s. Gene and Marlene both worked fulltime jobs and did the nursery chores on weekends and evenings with occasional help from friends and family. Spring of 1978 saw the hiring of the first “employee” Jay Gould.
The death of Gene in 1981 began the transition to Jay’s eventual purchase of Winterland. After three years of Marlenes tutelage, the torch was passed in the spring of 1984. Gary Shaw was here from the late 70’s as well and has been instrumental in our success. He is one of the best rose growers in the Midwest. You can find him and our plants on Saturdays at the Dane County Farmers Market.
“Location is Everything” a wise man once said, and ours was hard to find. This was the rationale behind the decision to focus on landscape contractors as our target market. We could not begin to afford the advertising to get lots of home owners to try and find our dead end street location 7 miles from Madison’s Beltline. Nobody was focusing on the landscapers plant needs in the Madison area. We love it when a plan comes together. Landscapers became the largest percentage of our business and that still holds true today. But Fitchburg’s new homeowners steadily shared the secret of that little nursery south of Irish Lane.
Winterland Nursery had great success thru the 1990’s. Bryan Richardson joined the crew in 1990 and helped take some of the load off Jay and Gary. Wow, a day off! As business grew the space available to expand became an issue so a search for a larger location began in the late 1990’s. In the fall of 1999 we secured the real estate for our present location at the south end of Fish Hatchery Road in the Town of Oregon. We are further from The Beltline but so much easier to find.
Designs and estimates ate up the winter of 1999-2000 and by June we were in full construction mode. Big shed, hoop houses, pump house, and miles irrigation were installed with some luck and some great help. In the fall we moved the plants and our past to Lincoln Road in anticipation of our grand opening in the spring of 2001. An early winter was easy to predict with all we had left to do. I hate it when we’re right.
We opened on schedule for spring 2001 with little fanfare and few guests of note. The big surprise was that it worked! Parking, computers, room for big trucks, loading dock, and the irrigation, the untested irrigation WORKED! How could this be? Planning, and the great bunch of guys who busted ass and the great families who put up with us during the process. Our customers adjusted quickly to the new location the new layout was so much easier to work with.
Winterland has always been a tree and shrub nursery. Roses and a few perennials, some houseplants for Farmers Market. The fall of 2001 was the beginning of a new adventure. We acquired a large greenhouse from the neighbor across the road, and an annual grower to fill it. We also learned how to disassemble and reassemble a large greenhouse. Piece of cake. Kathi Esser and Seasonal Splendors Greenhouse has broadened the variety of plants available here at Winterland in a big way! Look for the Seasonal Splendors link on our home page.
Today, Winterland in going Green! This could have been our claim to fame 20 years ago. We have seen many trends and fads come and go but landscaping has always been a great way to improve our environment. When I was in college they called it Ecology. The goals of cleaner air and water are still the same. Plant more trees. Plant more roses. Enjoy your personal space and do something for fellow man at the same time! Thanks for being our customer and allowing us all to make a living doing what we love.