Perennial growth with perennials: “A puzzle where nothing can go wrong”

Charlie Taylor

LACKALÄLGA. This time of year, more than 20 people work growing perennials at Lackalänga garden. But during the low season, only the family is in place. “Achieving continuity during such a pronounced seasonal operation is becoming increasingly tough as we grow,” says Lena Holgersson, founder of the gazelle company.Published: 5 July 2022, 21:31The garden in the Scanian the village of Lackalänga, outside Lund, is organized in a grid pattern. Between passages and hedges there are 40 “beds”, each with its specific set of plants, lined up in small pots. The diversity with various perennials, ferns, ornamental grasses, rhubarb and other plants gives the garden’s two hectares an eye-catching splendor. But at the same time, it makes the business challenging. “When we plan in the autumn what we will grow next year, we have not sold a single plant. It can therefore be said that we then plant everything on speculation. But after many years, we know quite well what will sell and it tends to be good in the end “, says Lena Holgersson who works a lot with the planning of the 450 different kinds of plants that are grown here for a year. “Another challenge with so many varieties is that each plant should have exactly the right amount of water and that some should have more shade than others. It will be a puzzle where nothing can go wrong “, adds Mats Holgersson. They met at a garden school in the early 1990s. When an old gardener went on sale in their home village, they did not need time to think. They moved there and started their company where Lena Holgersson worked for herself for several years. Since 2010, her husband also works full time in the family company, which has now also been strengthened by their son, Emil Holgersson. Already from the beginning was the plan to focus on perennials, ie plants that return after winter rest, year after year. Perennials are therefore excellent in parks or other public places such as schoolyards and playgrounds. The largest customer group for Lackalänga Trädgård are larger nurseries that sell whole sets to, above all, municipalities, but which need to supplement their trees and shrubs with perennials. Two other customer groups are gardeners and a number of selected garden stores. After many years of steady, steady growth, the family company’s turnover has exploded in the last two years and made Lackalänga Trädgård a Gazelle company last year. “It’s been a crazy year. Of course, the growth of the pandemic is mostly explained as having really increased interest in gardening. We had just increased our cultivation area and were prepared when the pandemic began, ”says Emil Holgersson, who also explains the growth of several other perennial growers closing down their operations, which has created a gap in the market for those who remain. “You could also say that we were lucky there. But the most important thing is still to be able to deliver fine plants, otherwise the customers will not come back. ”Emil and Mats Hoglersson.  Lacquered garden.Emil and Mats Hoglersson. Lackalänga garden. Photo: Lars JanssonThe perennials are planted underneath spring and summer, so during this time of year there is high pressure at Lackalänga Trädgård. In May, 23 people worked here, which was a new record. But during the winter, only the family and a full-time employee are on site. “Seasonal dependence makes it difficult to build a functioning organization with continuity. In principle, we start from scratch every year, ”says Mats Holgersson and explains that they are looking for staff at the Scanian garden schools. “We want to help Swedish young people to work. But we are now also looking at bringing in foreign seasonal staff, as many other gardeners already do. This spring we had a bunch of Ukrainian war refugees here. It was very successful but they recently went back. ”A truck backs into the exhibition area to pick up today’s deliveries of perennials. Mats Holgersson says that demand is strong again this year. The interest in gardens seems to have persisted after the pandemic and the municipalities continue to invest in parks. “We could expand our area even more, but we do not want to be too big because it is so difficult to build an organization,” he says and adds. “Although it is clear, we have many times said that we should pull the brakes. It seems easier said than done. ”

How is your company affected by the war in Ukraine?

“We are lucky and have not been affected much. Energy is not a big cost for us and increased costs for fertilizer are manageable. What has happened is that we have a hard time getting hold of plastic pots that have become a scarce commodity. Instead of recycled plastic, we have been forced to buy a quarter of a million black pots of ordinary plastic. We did not want that, ”says Mats Holgersson.

Lackalänga Trädgård AB

Owner: Mats and Lena Holgersson 100%.Turnover 2021: SEK 18.7 million.Net financial result 2021: 4.8 Mkr.Number of employees: Around 20 people in high season, five people in low season. Pontus Herin

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