After a severe grass allergy cut into her work managing turf at golf courses, Loriena Harrington went back to her roots — in the garden.
Harrington first put her hands in the dirt with her mother, who planted an annual garden in a tiny patch alongside their home in Franklin.
'The earliest memory I have of that is age 5 or 6, vegetable gardens and pulling carrots out of the soil, washing them, shucking peas. I remember planting flowers with her. It's something we did together.'
And, specifically, something they did without Harrington's older sister, who had no interest in being outside.
'Maybe it was the special attention,' Harrington said. 'But, for me, being outside has always been second nature. For me, it's where I'm most comfortable.'
By age 12, Harrington was a caddy at an area golf course. By 14, she had joined the grounds crew, working full-time in the summer and part-time on weekends durig the school year. By 16, she had started her own business mowing lawns, pulling weeds and trimming shrubs for private estates.
But she'd set her sights higher. And, a year later, she met with her boss at the golf course.
'I told him I wanted his job and (asked) how do I do that,' Harrington said.
Her path to managing the greens went through the University of Minnesota, where she graduated in 1998 with degrees in horticulture and turf grass management.
She continued gardening for private estates, but also managed turf at golf courses — until life made other plans.
'I was developing severe allergies to grass. Yeah, ironic,' Harrington sighed.
So, she took a year to regroup, researching life as a business owner while working quietly as a landscape designer.
'It was an experiment,' she said.
And it worked.
Harrington learned she could support herself with her new endeavor. But, before she got too entrenched, she moved back home to Wisconsin, where she met her husband (and, later, business partner) Mike.
Buying a house in Wauwatosa sealed the deal. That's where she would start her business: Beautiful Blooms Landscape & Design.
Harrington eventually opened a shop in Menomonee Falls. But she still lives in Tosa and works in the city four out of five days a week offering what she calls 'environmentally conscious land care' with high-end horticultural services and ornamental landscapes.
'We're not the cheapest company, so for people to hire us they're looking for a little something extra.'
That extra includes a service with maybe two or three percent of the chemicals found in traditional lawn care programs, as well as a virtually organic maintenance program, which uses corn gluten meal to beat back crab grass.
'The only reason we can't call it an organic program is the corn in the corn gluten meal is probably derived from corn that is not grown organically,' Harrington said.
Taking the road less traveled, despite the green bandwagon, often means educating clients.
But, Harrington said, it's worth it.
'It's my belief that an informed customer will be a lasting client. And what we do doesn't have value until people understand it,' Harrington said. 'So, we share that and help them understand what we're doing and why we're doing it.'
Loriena Harringtonpresident, Beautiful Blooms Landscape and Design (414) 431- 1757 (c) (262) email@example.com
JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Beautiful Blooms Landscape & Design
PHONE: (414) 431-1757
OWNER: Loriena and Mike Harrington
TYPE OF BUSINESS: residential landscape services
PEARLS OF WISDOM: 'Anyone can pull a weed on the first day and not do too much harm. But, if you're headed out to prune, you better know what you're doing because you can kill a treasured plant or mutilate it beyond recognition.'