Yard-and-garden maintenance at Kent garden center
KENT — The ink was barely dry on the closing documents transferring ownership of the venerable Kent Greenhouse & Gardens to Fairfield County-based Hoffman Landscapes when the pandemic struck.
“We signed the paperwork two weeks before the world kind of went crazy,” recalled Mike Hoffman of the Feb. 21 real estate deal, in which he purchased the garden center and gift shop in the heart of Kent from longtime owners Deborah and Bruce Bennett for an undisclosed purchase price.
As if the impact of the coronavirus on the new venture wasn’t enough to contend with, Mother Nature threw in an unseasonably cold spring and even some snow, but neither challenge has dampened Hoffman’s enthusiasm.
“If we have a tough spring, so be it. This is a longer-term thing,” said Hoffman, a seasoned landscaper who has been at the helm of Wilton’s premiere gardening and landscaping company since its inception more than three decades ago.
“Working with the Bennetts has been so fantastic. I am happy to have gone through this crisis with them.”
Bruce Bennett said he is excited for not only his loyal customers, but also for his dedicated employees.
“I know both will benefit from the partnership with Hoffman Landscapes,” said Bennett, who with his wife, Deborah, launched Kent Greenhouse & Gardens in 1973. The business started out small back then, but over the years the couple expanded it into an expansive garden center and retail gift shop that has become a destination for garden enthusiasts from near and far.
Hoffman said he first met the Bennetts about five or six years ago when he pitched a business opportunity. He had heard of Kent Greenhouse’s reputation as one of Litchfield County’s premiere garden centers.
“I wanted to do maintenance for their customers. We had a few conversations, but it didn’t work out at the time. But I was glad to have met them.”
Hoffman Landscapes, based in Fairfield County, is no stranger to the area. It has served customers in Litchfield County from its Wilton and Stamford locations for more than 30 years.
“We’ve long hoped for a home closer to our Litchfield County customers, and we have found that home at Kent Greenhouse & Gardens,” said Hoffman, who started his business in 1987.
The company’s award-winning team has been recognized many times for its landscape design and maintenance, including a 2019 Award of Excellence from the National Association of Landscape Professionals for property maintenance.
Hoffman said Kent Greenhouse & Gardens will retain its name, location and current offerings, including its popular retail store.
“With the exception of expanding maintenance capacity,” customers can expect business as usual, he said. “We’re eager to expand the services currently offered by introducing comprehensive property care programs, including weekly mowing, spring and fall clean-ups, irrigation, lawn care, plant care and more.”
The knowledgeable staff at Kent Greenhouse provide a perfect complement to Hoffman Landscapes’ existing team, said its owner. In addition to an assortment of annuals, herbs, perennials, shrubs, large and small specimen trees and tropical plants, the retail shop offers an assortment of seasonal items for the garden and for home decor.
“They have so much experience,” Hoffman said of the Kent nursery’s approximately 20 employees, several of whom have worked there for decades. “Customers can come in and ask questions and have a good conversation with the employees here,” whether picking out a plant or seeking gardening advice. “We’re proud to be a part of it.”
Kent Greenhouse and Gardens is at 30 S. Main St., and can be reached by phone at 860-927-4436.
Their website address is www.kentgreenhouse.com.