- After leaving Sweden, August Swansons first settled in Minnesota, where he started Swanson's Land of Flowers in 1888.
- In Minnesota, August met Selma, who had her own flower business. They married and soon began to raise more than just flowers.
- In addition to their greenhouse operation, August and Selma Swanson ran a thriving flower shop in St. Paul.
- August Swanson hitching up for a flower delivery, despite snowy Minnesota roads.
- The Swansons moved the operation to Seattle, where they started growing cut flowers.
- Today Swansons Nursery is still located at the original site on 15th Avenue NW, which was an unpaved rural road in 1924.
- The Swanson family lived, worked, and grew up on nursery property. Both houses were later used for company offices.
- During the 1930s, the running of the business was passed to son Ted Swanson and his wife Frances.
- August Swanson (with granddaughter Margie) and Selma Swanson (with a neighbor) always added a dignified presence and helped out until late in life.
- The Swansons gradually added a retail nursery to their flower growing business.
- By the 1950s, Swanson's growing operation had increased enough to hire a few neighbors and friends.
- Jon was one of several exchange student from Denmark to apprentice at Swansons. Another Danish student named Egon Molbak honed his skills here.
- The sleepy rural setting gradually transformed into a residential neighborhood and the nursery was updated periodically.
- Ted and Francis visit in the greenhouse which played such an important part of their lives.
- In 1976, Wally Kerwin purchased the nursery from the Swanson family. This photo shows Wally, far left, with the 1981 staff.
- Swansons' entry, early 1980s
- Under Wally’s guidance, former growing areas were gradually converted into retail space.
- Courtyard, early 1990s
- In the 1990s, a very popular cafe and gift shop were added.
- Overlooking Swansons in 1995
- Starting in 2001, construction began on a series of European greenhouses.
- The Swansons’ legacy continues today as an urban garden center dedicated to growing great gardeners.
A locally-owned, Northwest favorite since 1924, Swansons Nursery is a five-acre nursery located in Seattle’s Crown Hill neighborhood, just north of Ballard. We promote organic, sustainable gardening and are dedicated to growing the smartest, hippest, healthiest gardeners in the Pacific Northwest. We regularly offer free classes and seminars, and our personable staff members freely share their wealth of gardening knowledge and experience. At Swansons, you’ll find the widest variety of plants in town, European-style greenhouses, a tropical Conservatory housing our Gift Shop and Seasons Cafe & Bakery, plus seasonal celebrations for the entire family.
Swansons Nursery will have a landmark birthday in 2014, when we celebrate our 90th anniversary. Although 1924 is the ‘official’ start date of the business, you may not realize there are years of company history long before that date.
The history of Swanson’s Land of Flowers began in 1888, when Swedish immigrant August S. Swanson and his wife, Selma, established a small flower shop in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before long they bought land near the city and built a greenhouse. The business prospered, but the winters were long and cold.
The couple moved their young family to Pasadena, California, just in time for one of southern California’s coldest winters on record. In 1922, they moved to Seattle and bought land ‘way out in the country’ along a dirt road called 15th Avenue Northwest. They built a comfortable home and started cultivation that evolved into the new Swanson’s Land of Flowers in 1924.
According to a 1958 newspaper article, "The know-how and the care exercised by the Swansons also built a reputation for quality and honest dealing that is second to none." As time passed, the city expanded and its Crown Hill neighborhood encompassed the Land of Flowers. More ground was broken and more greenhouses were constructed.
August and Selma’s son, Ted, literally grew up in the business and succeeded them to manage it. He and his wife, Frances, expanded the operations and added a wholesale business to their retail trade.
In 1976, Wally Kerwin purchased the nursery from the Swanson family. Under Wally’s guidance, former growing areas were gradually converted into retail space. In the early 1990s, a popular cafe and gift shop were added. In 1994, the lower half of the property was regraded to create an easy-to-stroll nursery and garden experience.
In 2001, construction began on a series of European–designed greenhouses to make Swansons what it is today: modern, covered, and energy-efficient, while still steeped in personality and deep neighborhood roots.
Come visit us at Swansons, where the surroundings, selection, expertise, and quality make Swansons a truly unique nursery shopping experience.