A Blooming Century
By Elizabeth Hoffman & Claudia Kreiser Greene
Imagine a family business surviving 100 years in the same location, consistently delivering quality goods and advice to local gardeners. West End Florist & Garden Center started as a truck farm at the borders of Wilmette and Evanston in the little town of Gross Pointe. Mathias Hoffman came to this area from Luxembourg in 1901 and purchased the 20 acre parcel of land at the corner of Old Glenview & Hunter Roads. In 1908 he built the cypress structure that still serves as a greenhouse today.
Mathias married Catherine Loutsch with whom he had four children. Their son Edwin married Mary Elizabeth (Mayme). They had two sons, George & Richard. In the 1920’s they upgraded the greenhouse into a full service florist. They also added a garden center, growing their own roses, mums, annuals and perennials for use by local gardeners. Tropical plants and succulents were added to the mix in the 1970’s.
George married Patricia Ellen Kline in 1967; they had two children, James and Elizabeth. Both are now active in the family business with Elizabeth (Liz) Hoffman running West End Florist & Garden Center in Evanston and Jim running J & E Nursery in Libertyville.
Liz continues the family tradition of growing her own mums, roses and perennials in the greenhouse. A healthy stock of trees and shrubs is also available. In fall, West End carries pumpkins, gourds, corn, hay, etc. During the holiday season, West End carries trees, garlands, poinsettias and more. Each year offerings in the Garden Center expand and include a large variety of eco-friendly and organic products from rain barrels to tomatoes. When asked what major changes in the industry the family has seen over the years, Liz replied “People have increasingly embraced the concept of using landscaping as an investment in the value of their home. They realize the value of curb appeal to potential buyers.”
When asked her view on what the future holds, Liz said “I see an increasing emphasis on environmentally friendly landscaping concepts such as native plants and rain gardens. Energy efficiency will be increased by planting shade trees to reduce the need for air conditioning. The concept of the “right plant for the right place” will take more prominence in landscape design.”
West End Florist & Garden Center is active in the Evanston 4th of July Parade and the Wilmette Holiday Parade. It is a member of both the Wilmette and Evanston Chambers of Commerce. Many local schools and charities are recipients of Gift Certificates from West End Florist & Garden Center. A local kindergarten class visits us each year for a Fall educational tour. Several Garden clubs participate in hands on planting sessions or lectures as part of their activities. Many customers visit West End Florist & Garden Center seeking gardening advice, plant identification and an opportunity to experiment with new varieties in their gardens. West End offers wholesale prices to landscapers, contractors, municipalities, religious organizations and schools.
During the celebration of
our 100th anniversary, many lectures and seminars were offered
free of charge to the public. This year, as in the past two years, West End
Florist and Garden Center played a pivotal role in the
Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show which will run from March 7-15th,
2008 at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago. “West End Florist and Garden Center
is involved in the community firstly, because we want to give back to the
community, and secondly because it affords exposure within the community.
This is primarily where our customers come from and by participating in
local events, we can see and be seen.
Participating in the Chicagoland Flower and
Garden Show gives us exposure throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, and
even nationwide. It also lets us rub elbows with others in the trade.” Liz
explained. West End Florist & Garden Center is looking forward to a second
century of serving the community and filling people’s lives with flowers.