Sargent's Expert Feature - Mary Luchtel, Greenhouse Production Supervisor
Growing up on a farm near Okoboji, IA, Mary Luchtel has had her hands in the dirt from an early age where she was introduced to vegetable and flower gardening. Her passion for gardening took her to Iowa State University where she studied horticulture, then managing a greenhouse and running her own business as a perennial garden designer.
Having nearly 30 years of horticulture experience, Mary started at Sargent’s five-years-ago as our Greenhouse Production Supervisor. She splits her time between the Annuals production department and the Perennial production department. “Working in a greenhouse and gardening is a good way to get exercise and stay in good physical shape while enjoying nature at the same time,” she says. “Working outside with plants and flowers is more of a passion to me than a job. Being around all the beautiful blooms is a happy place to be!”
Mary’s search for horticultural knowledge hasn’t slowed. She loves the changing of the seasons and the shift of what keeps her busy around the greenhouses, but come the end of fall, “I make use of my winter months by continuing to educate myself on horticulture subjects as I anxiously await spring to come so I can get my hands in the soil once again.”
Being surrounded by other Sargent’s team members who are full of knowledge is another resource Mary leans into. “I enjoy the passion for growing plants that I find with my coworkers. We share with each other a variety of horticulture information,” she says.
That horticulture knowledge then gets passed along to Sargent’s customers in the form of incredible gardens and landscapes. One summer when Mary was working alongside the Sargent’s Landscape Maintenance team for an elderly woman, Mary says her customer, “loved her gardens and in the past had always been able to care for them herself. She was so appreciative to have access to workers who were seasoned gardeners, gardeners who knew their perennials and showed expertise on how to maintain every different plant. I really connected with her as we shared our passion for the joy a perennial garden provides!”
“Mary brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our production greenhouses due to her years of experience as a professional gardener in Iowa,” Nick Sargent says. “She brings an extremely pleasant personality and willingness to help in any way she can to work every day!”
One of Mary’s best pieces of advice for any gardener working with perennials is “to make sure your soil is properly prepared before planting a perennial garden. This first step can be the difference between success and failure of a plant thriving. I am a big believer in tilling in sand and compost to amend the soil. If a plant’s roots aren’t happy, its top growth won’t perform to its best potential.”
Mary is now also passing her passion of gardening along to her two granddaughters who are 8 and 4-years-old. “We enjoy doing anything nature related together whether it involves plants, birds, insects or rocks,” she says. They love to grow a variety of Echinacea (coneflowers) which are rebloomers and can be found in pink, orange, white, red and yellow. (A plant that reblooms means it produces more than one set of blooms in a growing season.) “Along with the Echinacea, I also like the Calamagrostis Avalanche grass. I enjoy having a fresh vase of these Echinacea and Avalanche grass during the summer and fall months in my home,” she says.
And when not having her hands in the dirt, Mary can still be found outside. “I love going for a walk in nature, having coffee with a friend and finishing the day with a good book….and a yummy piece of good dark chocolate too!”