The Treehouse is celebrating 30 years of being in the plant business. Todd Ihrke, co-owner and manager, has been at the Treehouse since January of 2003. He said, “We are known for our beautiful and high quality plants. The Treehouse grows most of our plants we sell and pride ourselves on the highest quality plants and landscape materials with friendly and knowledgeable staff and customer service.”
Ihrke purchased the business from Cheryl Souhrada Lamon and Rick Lamon. The farm on which the business rests was a piece of property that was part of the original Souhrada farm. The Lamon family had started to sell trees in LeRoy, then moved the inventory to this site. Cheryl managed the Treehouse business since Rick worked elsewhere.
Over the next 20 years, the grounds were improved and buildings added. Six of the 13 acres are presently being used for the business, but plans are in the works to expand, adding a tree farm that would sell basic trees — no Christmas trees.
When Ihrke purchase the business he not only kept all the employees, he also added a landscape crew of three men who work all summer long. The other employees number 10-12 with a few more added during the summer to do the watering. Ihrke said, “When we bought the business, we didn’t want to change things. We liked what we saw and the way it was run. We just wanted to expand the landscape part of the business.”
Elsa Bye has been working at the Treehouse for 21 years. When asked why she had worked there for so long, she said, “I love to plant.” She is a master gardener and plants a huge garden on the property where she experiments with plants. It is a good thing Elsa loves to plant because last year Treehouse employees planted approximately 55,000 plants from March 1 to April 30.
The landscape crew specializes in general landscaping, retaining walls, brick patios and water features. They also do trimming in the spring and fall of shrubs, perennials and ornamental trees.
Ihrke is the design expert and does the estimating. He began working in the landscaping field during high school and college. In 1993, he graduated from Winona State with a Business Degree. He and his wife, Nadia, actually met at a home where he was doing a landscaping job and she was an exchange student from France working as a nanny. They have two children, Emma-Lee is seven years old and Stephan is three.
“I really enjoy landscape design,” said Ihrke. “It’s my favorite thing to do.” He is the only person at the Treehouse who does the design. Digital enhancing can be done by computer to show the homeowner what can be done to their property. A picture of the area is taken, then Ihrke creates a picture of what it can look like by adding shrubs, rocks, flowers and more, makes an estimate of the cost and shows the proposal to the property owner. Estimates are free, but if the homeowner chooses to do the landscaping themselves, they are charged a design fee.
Every year customers are given one Lily Buck for every $20 spent. Lily Days are held during the first week of August. The Bucks are good on all merchandise and can be used for up to one-half of the purchase price of an item. If you can’t attend the Lily Days this year, don’t get nervous, Lily Bucks don’t expire.
A promotion that will be implemented this year at the Treehouse is the t-shirt. A colorful t-shirt with the Treehouse name and a special slogan (not yet determined) can be purchased. Every time the customer comes into the store wearing the shirt, they will get a discount. How much of a discount has not been determined yet.
Besides nursery plants, the Treehouse sells trees. In the spring, they sell bare root trees, which are at a discounted price, easy to move and the homeowners can plant themselves. They also wholesale very ornate, specialty hanging baskets (such as those adorning the streets of LeRoy each summer). The Treehouse has a full landscape center with block products, decorative rock and mulches and landscape supplies, and a garden-themed gift store.
Ihrke added, “We have many display gardens here at The Treehouse, and my personal favorite is the Bridal Garden. People can rent the bridal garden for weddings. We have one or two weddings per year.”
The Treehouse opens for business on April 1. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. Todd Ihrke may be contacted by phoning 507-561-3785 or email: [email protected]