Spring and summer in the Bighorns for many revolves around a gigantic greenhouse in Sheridan’s known as Landon’s.
The greenhouse attracts people from Montana, Casper and all around the north-central region of Wyoming with a selection that’s amazing not only for its sheer volume of plants, but variety.
John Custiz, shopping there on a recent weekend, was ogling all the varieties of mints and tomatoes.
“I get everything here,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “They’re just so knowledgeable, and they work with (the plants) all winter long.”
He was waiting for two things: warmer weather and payday.
He was far from alone.
On the weekend, Landon’s Greenhouse is crawling with so many people, it’s almost like an ant hill. A line of people exiting the store carry huge hanging baskets with huge smiles to match, while a line of new customers — many traipsing in from the year-round farmers’ market held on Saturdays — march the opposite direction in search of the same.
Inside the store, meanwhile, children like Owen and Neil Edwards are searching out the official greenhouse gnome in hopes of earning a prize.
Unfortunately for them, there are several gnomes, all of them well hidden among the thousands of plants. Only one gnome — the one with the greenhouse logo — is the right one, though. And there are so many plants for that little gnome to hide behind.
That was OK with mom, Christie. She describes herself as a huge gardener on the prowl for more stuff to put in her garden. The boys’ search gave her plenty of time to look everything over and start filling up her cart with lots of plants.
“What isn’t there to like here?” she told Cowboy State Daily, looking at row upon row upon row of plants.
A Sea Of Green
Landon’s Greenhouse has more than 30,000 square feet of space, all devoted to hundreds of thousands of plants. It is a sea of emerald green, splashed with colorful blooms nodding here and there.
“We do about 75,000 petunias,” owner Keith Kershaw told Cowboy State Daily. “That doesn’t count everything else, you know, the pansies, calibrachoa and zinnias. There’s just a wide mix of things.”
That wide mix of things also includes 38 varieties of the tomatoes Custiz loves, along with five or six varieties of mints that he buys to make his own special blend of tea.
“Each one of those crops could have up to nine different state dates,” Kershaw told Cowboy State Daily. “We don’t want everything to finish at the same time, so the production side of things is very dialed in.”
Keeping a good mix within a limited indoor space is a product of both timing and precision.
The timing part begins in late December, Kershaw said. The greenhouses are heated up then, and about 30 varieties of pansies get seeded in the greenhouse.
In January, however, the pace picks up tremendously and things really start to move.
Precision helps keep production running smoothly. And that’s why every variety has a detailed profile all its own.
“We don’t just wing it,” Kershaw said. “So, if we need a certain number and we have a low germination rate, we know we need to obviously plant more.”
That detailed profile also helps Landon’s share solid information with growers about the plants they’ve chosen.
“That mint will be fine in a pot,” a cashier told a customer headed to Cheyenne. “Just don’t water it from the top.”
Coming Full Circle
Landon’s is named after the original founders of the greenhouse, Jack and Kathy Landon, who started out on 4 acres northeast of Big Horn, Wyoming.
The store has had three owners along the way, including Kershaw, and each has done their part to steadily grow the enterprise since it began in 1979.
In 2020, the entire growing and production operation moved from its original location to behind the retail store, which is located on College Meadows Drive.
In front of the store, a farmers’ market is held each Saturday featuring wares ranging from spiced nuts and breads to kombucha and fermented mustard. The greenhouse organizes the year-round market, which moves to the north greenhouse in the winter.
Kershaw is a Sheridan native who left Wyoming after high school to take a job in construction in Oregon. Along the way, he landed a job as a salesman in a plant nursery where his wife was keeping the books.
That turned out to be a life-changing move that closed the circle and ultimately brought him back home.
“We were shipping plants to Landon’s,” Kershaw recalled. “So somewhere around 2010 I think it was they had approached me and they knew I was from Sheridan and one of the owners was wanting to get out of the business or try to figure out an exist strategy.”
So that is just what the Kershaw did, moving back in 2012, and buying out the remaining partners by 2020.
“It’s kind of funny how that works, but it’s pretty cool to be back in my hometown,” he said. “And now, being an owner of a place where my folks used to shop when I was a kid.”
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.