Award-winning Interior Landscaping | Green Walls | Plant Care
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Business plant service, office plants, green spaces

History of Botanicus

Botanicus Plant Parlour

The Early Years 1971-1982: Industry Pioneers

Retail, Plant Growers & First Commercial

David & Kathryn started in 1971 in a former florist shop near the University on Main Street in Buffalo.  At first, Kathy mostly did custom dressmaking, but David convinced her to stock a few exotic plants and Bonsai in the front windows. By 1973, the store became the Plant Parlour, WNY first plants-only retail store.

Our Retail Stores

For many years, we had a total of three retail stores! We helped make plants easy for everyone with Plant Care Sheets, free “Plant Doctors” advice, Indoor Horticulture Courses, and free workshops.These stores were nearly “botanic gardens” with selections of HUNDREDS of plants including truly EXOTIC plants.

Some unusual items featured in our free customer newsletter:

  • Rosery Vine (Ceropegia Woodii)
  • 12 Apostle Plant (Neomarica)
  • African Violets, Cape Primrose, Flame Violets (Episcia), and ten other types of flowering Gesneriads.
  • Dozens of types of small and huge Cactus & Succulents
  • Tillandsia & Bromeliads
  • Ginger Plant
  • Babies Tears
  • Hawaiian Heather

As well as all accessories:

  • Rainbows of colored pots
  • Sand Paintings and Terrariums
  • Baskets, glassware, rope hangers
  • Artificial lights, fertilizer, seeds and more!!

 In 1974, David purchased a Greenhouse Range in Lockport, NY to grow exotic plants for the stores and local wholesale market.

  • Cactus including ones imported from Japan
  • Ivies - a wide and exotic assotment
  • African Violets  and other Flowering Gesneriads
  • Tropical plants from Florida

They quickly realized that growing plants in WNY in the height of the oil embargo of 1975 was not the most cost-effective plan, so they traveled to Florida andleased and purchased a 28-acre former mum nursery on Florida’s Tropical Gulf Coast in Bonita Springs. Over the next few years they experimented and developed techniques for growing plants that would thrive in WNY houses and offices even during our long dark winters. Including:

  • Light, porous, “Soilless” potting medium
  • Plants grown under shade (the dark fabric in the photo) to produce plants that do not lose lots of leaves after leaving Florida, pre-acclimated to lower light
  • Packing and shipping methods to have plants survive the long trip from Florida
  • Selection of the best plant species
  • In-the-pot Emitter watering (instead of watering with overhead sprinklers)
  • How to protect from Florida’s occasional freezes (as well as tornados, hurricanes and even forest fires!)

Botanicus (as they called their Nursery Farm) was a Family venture with members from both Kathy and David’s family involved in the Business. Even Diana and Devon, their daughters, were often working in the Nursery or Retail stores (Sand paintings anyone?)

Here is Kathy’s Family photo at the Florida Nursery in 1979. We are all wearing our “Plant Parlour - Life Assurance for Plants” T’s!!

Early Commercial

One of our first Commercial installation and service accounts was the brand-new Wintergarden in Niagara Falls (right). Other early accounts include the Niagara Hilton, the Thruway Mall, as well as offices, restaurants, department stores, and car dealerships.The company was one of the pioneers in this new industry, and worked closely with the national organization to develop industry product and service standards.