I was born and grew up in the
Denver area. My parents were in the tennis and ski
retail business. After high school, I studied at the
University of California, Berkeley from 1960 – 1965 in
the natural sciences. During this time I spent a year in
the Monterey Bay area and became familiar with the
flower seed industry in the Gilroy/Hollister/San Juan
Bautista area. Upon returning to Denver in 1965, I
volunteered and worked part-time at the Denver Botanic
Gardens while I was starting Applewood Seed Co. For the
first two years, the company offered flower and
vegetable packet seed. In 1967, I purchased 5lb of Blue
Columbine seed, Colorado’s State Flower, from a
collector. That was the start of the wildflower
business. Dee, my wife, joined the company in 1968 and
together with a small group of employees we collected
and packaged a line of wildflower seeds. In the early
years, we traveled the western states selling the
packets to garden centers, nurseries and resort gift
stores. In 1969 Applewood began exhibiting at wholesale
Gift and Nursery shows around the country. We added more
packet seed lines of herbs, ornamental grasses, indoor
plants, sprouts and edible flowers. Applewood also
developed many planter kits and garden accessories to
broaden our product lines.
The bulk wildflower seed
business began in the early 1970s as landscapers
attending the Nursery shows began requesting seed
mixtures for their residential and commercial projects.
Then we started attending Landscape Architect, Golf
Course, Erosion Control and Re-vegetation Trade Shows.
Gradually, we developed an extensive list of wildflower
seed mixtures for many different climate and special
When my wife wanted to retire in
1997, we sold the retail product division of Applewood.
That company continued independently for 3 ½ years.
Since 1997, Norm Poppe, our
General Manager and I have focused on the wholesale
production and distribution of bulk wildflower seed
expanding to new markets and production areas around the
world. Although the retail product business was a great
outlet for our creative expression, it was also very
demanding. The gift market requires the introduction of
new products every six months. When Dee wished to
retire, I decided not to add all her duties to my own.
It was easier to sell and return to my original love: