Altum’s Garden Center Celebrates 60 Years of Providing Beautiful Landscapes in Zionsville
Photographer: Ron Wise
When you notice a neighbor’s beautiful landscape or a particularly creative seasonal porch container, you probably aren’t surprised to hear it was designed by Altum’s. Their passion for plants comes through in everything they do. That’s because, as their tagline says, “Plants make everything better.”
Known for their quality plant materials and treating customers like family, Altum’s Garden Center has been part of the Zionsville area landscape for the past 60 years.
Altum’s originally started as a landscaping company in 1958 by current owner Dana Altum’s dad, Bob, a landscaper who graduated from Purdue. In 1981, Bob had the opportunity to purchase an old grower greenhouse, which led to Altum Gardens being opened in 1982.
At that time, the idea of a garden center was new. The idea caught on with the community, and Altum’s quickly outgrew the facility.
Though Dana never thought she’d be a landscaper, she went to Purdue where she graduated in horticulture business management in 1985 and came into the Garden Center business.
Altum’s moved to its current location in 1996. Bob was a visionary who saw the growth of Indianapolis suburbs moving north and purchased their current 23 acres. At the time, it was one of the only businesses located that far north on Michigan Road. In designing the new center, Bob was inspired by garden centers in England.
Coming to the family and pet-friendly garden center to shop is an experience. It’s a place to walk around, get inspired, and have a cup of coffee. Kids love to look for the cat that lives on site or play on the playground.
Both experienced and aspiring gardeners know this is a very relaxed, fun place to be, with someone to talk to, to learn from and to get their questions answered.
“Everyone who works here is passionate about plants and making sure everyone can be successful,” Dana says. “Customers use us as a resource for information because they know if we don’t know, we’ll find out.”
She says it’s somewhat similar to an Apple store, where you don’t go just to buy a computer but go looking to learn from an expert.
Their customers are those who are discerning about their gardening and either want the planting done for them or are interested in learning. They see plants as an investment that appreciates and keeps getting better over time.
“Our biggest competition right now is time, people are busy busy busy,” Altum says.
For busy parents, you can shop ahead and have curbside delivery of your plants and decorations while you and the kids stay in the car. Or, you can stay at home and shop in your pajamas, and Altum’s will deliver their beautiful plants to you. With their Four Seasons of Color program, they even provide beautifully pre-arranged drop-ins for porch pots — so you can look like the experts on Instagram or Pinterest even if you aren’t one.
They’ll even come out and do the planting for you, as well as offer a three-year warranty on their plant material. They can do that, Dana says, because they work with local growers, are very selective about the quality of the plant materials and “pick the plants we know you will be successful with here.”
And with their Plant Doctor hotline (just email email@example.com), they can help catch any problem before it goes wrong.
Education is a big part of what they do. In addition to classes and workshops, “we will ask lots of questions about where you will put the plants, making sure it will be successful where you plant it, and making sure the soil is prepared properly.”
Just like with their plants, they have been walking through the many seasons of life with their customers as well. Over the years, customers come in for different needs and projects and share pictures of their plantings as well as their families as they grow.
Though their business is seasonal, with 65 percent of their business being done in the 10 weeks of summer, Altum’s is open year-round. They have 20,000 square feet of covered shopping, including their glass conservatory.
“In the wintertime, this is nothing but a better place to be,” Dana says.
They also sell cut Christmas trees and will deliver, set up and take down the Christmas tree.
When asked about their secret to success and longevity, Dana shared they are “always groundbreaking, always moving forward and always thinking ahead.”
They are flexible, progressive and part of a big network of other garden centers. For example, Dana says, they now sell trees online that can be delivered within seven days.
Dana has also been ahead of the curve when it comes to the trend of limiting inventory in retail stores. She believes in “keeping it fresh and new, and keeping inventories at a reduced level to have fresh product all the time.”
With a limited selection, this is not a place to buy on impulse. Instead, they will give you ideas, work with you on designs and help you make decisions in order to “make you happy in the shortest amount of time.”
Altum’s Garden Center is located at 11335 North Michigan Road in Zionsville. You can give them a call 317-733-GROW or visit them online at altums.com.