Himmel’s Strives To Get People Outside Where They Can Experience The Therapeutic Power Of Nature


The team at Himmel’s Landscape & Garden Center is on a mission: to build a better, healthier and more beautiful world.

Owner Elizabeth Elliott has entrusted her team with most of the daily business tasks, empowering her to focus more on partnerships that will help Himmel’s reach that goal.

“For 2022, we’re really focused on getting young people outdoors, getting their hands in the dirt, teaching them about gardening, starting seeds and interacting with the chickens,” Elliott said.

Himmel’s is partnering with ClearShark H2O, Downs Park, the Anne Arundel County Public Library, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center and the Anne Arundel County Food Bank for classes that will bring educational value to the community. The Pasadena-based center will also continue to offer gardening seminars, bonsai classes and craft workshops.

“Something new that we’re introducing this year is a monthly gardening club where we will invite participants to attend and enjoy crafts that are gardening focused, like making fairy houses and succulent containers,” Elliott added. “The purpose is to demonstrate how people can incorporate found items or reuse items they already have at home to make unique containers or garden decor. You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the perks of gardening.”

Himmel’s strives to create opportunities that allow kids to take a break from their smartphones and computers by getting outdoors. That mission is personal for Elliott, whose daughter lost a best friend to suicide.

“It was like a slap in the face, [a reminder] that these kids need something besides their phones,” Elliott said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about the young people.”

Not only is Himmel’s planning to involve youth by adding partnerships and classes but also by creating an outdoor classroom.

“We envision a pavilion where we will have benches and worktables, so when we invite the school groups or preschool groups over, we have a specific area where they will plant seeds or work in our raised garden beds,” said Elliott, who hopes to have the space completed by the beginning of fall so kids can enjoy pumpkin-related activities and festive crafts.

Soon, Himmel’s will host special needs students from Chesapeake High School, allowing them to work in the gardens and learn what it takes to run a garden center. Himmel’s is also planning to help children from the Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis with their community garden.

All of these events are designed to get kids outside. In a 2020 article by the American Psychological Association, Trent University psychologist Lisa Nisbet said, “There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being. You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”

As a business owner who can be overwhelmed by the pressure and anxiety of meeting deadlines and expectations, Elliott has had that same experience with nature.

“As soon as I’m outside — for me, it’s with the chickens — I love gathering eggs and watching their interactions and amusing behavior. I go over to the garden area and check out the way the plants have changed overnight,” Elliott said. “There are so many things to observe. When we slow down, unplug, and just observe the natural world, it’s such a healing feeling. This wonderful relaxation just washes over you and puts all the daily worries and stress into perspective.”

While much of Elliott’s focus is on providing education and outdoor space to the community, she has also been working to “professionalize” business processes to better serve customers.

“We have a brand-new point of sales system that will allow us to track our sales between retail and landscaping,” Elliott said. “We have new staff members who come from garden center, nursery, landscaping and retail backgrounds who will work even harder to meet customers’ needs.”

The landscaping crew, which includes two women landscapers, is like a family unit because of the camaraderie.

“There’s a brother and sister-in-law and nephew unit. There’s a father and daughter,” Elliott said. “Plus, we hire and promote from within, so we have a landscaping supervisor who has quickly built a solid rapport with our three foremen and their crews. We work all over the county and strive to deliver excellent customer service and attention to detail on every job.”

Himmel’s does “anything from landscaping to hardscaping to raised bed gardening,” Elliott said. The team gives free consultations and is in touch with customers from start to finish.

“We have a goal of a 48-hour turnaround for estimates,” Elliott said. “We want to complete a beautiful installation and get it right the first time so that the customer is delighted and will call us back for all of their cleanup and maintenance needs moving forward.”

As for customers in need of supplies, Elliott wants them to know leaf compost is back in stock. She said Himmel’s is also doing everything possible to keep prices reasonable despite inflation.

“We’re hearing about inflation a lot. There is no doubt that inflation and supply chain issues have touched the nursery, garden center and landscaping industry,” Elliott said. “I think customers should know why grass seed is so expensive this year. There was a crop failure in Oregon because of droughts and fires. That is where we get most of our grass seed. So, customers will see a price increase on grass seed and sod, and that’s why. We try to be really transparent about our pricing.”

In good news, customers will see new cultivars to replace old plants, like some varieties of dogwoods and Japanese andromeda that are no longer recommended because of the changing climate.

“Breeders are working hard to develop plants that are going to be drought-tolerant while also providing the four-season color and amazing blooms that customers are looking for,” Elliott said. “Gardeners should look for new and exciting annual, perennial and nursery stock cultivars. At the same time, we are increasing our offering of native plants. Because of climate change and because we are committed to bay-friendly landscaping, we love offering a great variety of natives. They provide food and habitat for birds, pollinators and wildlife, and we even have staff who have special knowledge of native plants, so customers can come in and talk to some of our staff members with their specific questions about using natives.”

That is one of Elliott’s favorite aspects of owning Himmel’s: interacting with customers and doing her part to fulfill her team’s mission of building a better, healthier and more beautiful world.

“We love our customers to come here just to see what new plants and flowers have come in,” Elliott said. “This is a place that is meant to be welcoming and therapeutic, even if you’re not here to purchase anything. People come here just to bring their kids and look at the chickens. We welcome everyone to stop and smell the flowers and just enjoy the good vibe.”

Himmel’s Landscape & Garden Center is located at 4374 Mountain Road in Pasadena. For more information, call 410-324-2064 or visit www.himmelsgardencentermd.com.


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