Natural Garden Natives™ may be the newest addition to Midwest Groundcovers LLC family of companies but these Local Eco-type natives have a rich history which goes beyond their own natural history. The Natural Garden, Inc. (purchased by Midwest Groundcovers LLC in 2011) was established 58 year ago in 1953. The first owner, Walter Stephens, cultivated woodland natives growing on the property and from the properties of neighbors and friends.
By 1979, Mr. Stephens had sold the business to the second owner, Craig Sensor, and the nursery had begun to propagate native prairie plants. Nurseryman Roy Diblik, now a renowned horticulturist, author, and partner of Northwind Perennials in Wisconsin, was employed at that time at The Natural Garden and worked alongside Craig Sensor, expanding their selection of prairie plants. The public’s concern for the preservation of indigenous flora and fauna had started to grow and that concern stimulated and supported the work of natural land managers such as park districts & forest preserves. Encouragement of Craig and Roy’s work came from Ray Schulenburg of the Morton Arboretum and their primary seed source was Bob Horlock, namesake of Horlock Hill restored prairie in St. Charles, IL. Bob had a deep passion for indigenous plants, seeing them saved, propagated and used to restore natural areas. By the mid 90s, The Natural Garden’s own seed beds were well established and thus the nursery’s primary source for propagation. The secondary source was a group of reliable suppliers who had either gathered seed from their own plantings or with permission from natural areas using the guidelines set down by the state.
When Craig Sensor passed away in the late 90s, Jan Sorensen, who was nursery manager at The Natural Garden, purchased the business. Jan’s deep love and respect of nature was a driving factor in the purchase. Jan, and nurseryman Victor Jaramillo, continued to build The Natural Garden’s selection of native plants as well as the awareness of the benefits and beauty of native plants within the green industry. The Natural Garden was purchased by Midwest Groundcovers LLC in January 2011.
The joining of Midwest Groundcovers LLC and The Natural Garden, Inc. is a natural fit. The long time nursery neighbors have shared history and resources. The Natural Garden’s founder Walter Stephens often purchased groundcovers from Midwest’s first nursery location. Midwest’s president Peter Orum happily recalls Mr. Steven’s weekly Friday visits to Midwest for groundcovers to sell at The Natural Garden, sometimes returning on Saturday for another load. Roy Diblik, who helped develop The Natural Garden’s native plant line, has worked in cooperation with Midwest since the 1990s, building Midwest’s line of perennials and assisting with the development of the Midwest Solutions® and Plant Partners programs.
And so our production of Local Eco-type native plants continues today. Midwest is fully committed to maintaining The Natural Garden tradition. The Local Eco-type quality plant material customers have come to expect from The Natural Garden will continue to be available through Midwest Groundcovers under the name Natural Garden Natives™.
To learn about Midwest Groundcovers 42 year history visit www.midwestgroundcovers.com.