“Bringing Our Ideas to Life”
An Interview With Paul & Joyce Larson, owners
When did your love of plants begin?
Paul: Ladies first, I’ll be a gentleman.
Joyce: I always liked working outside with my dad in our vegetable garden.
Paul: Same thing here. Except our vegetable garden was six times the size of yours!
What do you like the most about them?
Paul: I like that I’m working with living things. I’m creating beauty, or something useful, like food.
Joyce: I like being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Watching things grow is fun.
Paul: That sums it up.
You both graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture. Is that where you met?
Joyce: After a Horticulture Club Meeting, he gave me a ride home-
Paul: In my pick-up truck! [They laugh]
Joyce: The rest is history!
Paul: And here we are, thirty years later.
What were you hoping to do with that degree?
Paul: Have my own business someday!
Joyce: I really had no idea! You have to be open-minded once you graduate.
Paul: To be totally truthful, my senior year in high school I wanted my own greenhouse business in Woodstock.
Joyce: I just wanted a job that related to what I loved doing.
What was happening after college, in the years leading up to Sprucedale Gardens?
Paul: Babies! [laughs] Starting a family. I was working construction and as a carpenter, as well as working at other greenhouses and nurseries.
Joyce: I worked several jobs, and one was working at a local greenhouse here in town. And I was raising our children.
Paul: Little rugrats! Like you! [to dog, Cady, who stays fixated on her favorite toy]
How did you get Sprucedale Gardens off the ground? How did it become what it is today?
Joyce: We started selling a few shrubs in our front yard in 1993. We moved to our present location in 1995. We put up one greenhouse that year. One unheated greenhouse.
Paul: I built it in ’94. I finished it before our house was. We gradually added more greenhouses and growing areas as the years went by. Each year for five years I built a new greenhouse.
Joyce: He grew up in town so people knew who he was.
Paul: Just as we were starting up a lot of greenhouses and nurseries had closed and there was a demand for those things.
What is your favorite part of Sprucedale Gardens?
Joyce: Seeing people enjoy looking at our plants and enjoying the beauty. I like helping people make their home a-
Paul: - more beautiful-
Joyce: -and functional place.
Paul: One of the best parts is seeing people’s face as we open the greenhouses in the spring. The pansies are flowering, things are blooming. There’s a lot of green. People just go, “Ahhhhhh!” [laughs] People are dying for color. They just want to smell it.
Joyce: In early April we just have people come in just to smell and see the flowers.
Did you ever think your ideas would come to life in such a big way?
Paul: Yeah, it’s what I wanted to do.
Joyce: I wouldn’t have envisioned something this big. We didn’t know what it would be like, but I’m very happy with the way it all turned out.
Paul: We hoped it would provide income.
Joyce: To help raise our kids and help them out for college.
Besides plants, Sprucedale and gardening, what are your hobbies? What are you involved in?
Paul: Bee-keeping and gardening. My daughter, Martha, always says, “You were out working with plants all day long. And now you’re gardening for fun all night! I don’t get it!” We also started Larson's Geraniums a few years ago. [For more information on Larson's Geraniums click here!]
Joyce: What I like to do in my spare time?
Joyce: I like to use my hands. I putter with knitting, baking and flower gardening.
Where do you see Sprucedale Gardens a few years from now? Where do you see yourself?
Joyce: We like to provide interesting plants and garden products for our customers.
Paul: Three times in size! [laughs] No, not bigger, just better.
Paul: I don’t want to be any bigger.
If there was one thing people should know about Sprucedale Gardens, what would it be?
Paul: Oh boy. We have a wide variety of plants but if you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask!
Joyce: We love getting plants for people. We can get whatever plant you want. That’s what Paul is trying to say. What I want to say is that plants make your life better. If you come here, you’re going to see a lot of cool and interesting plants!