Ed Grossi has a background in organic farming growing strawberries and pumpkins while his wife Susie Sweet who was a flight attendant has a passion for landscaping; together they’ve turned their home into a successful wholesale nursery, event site and beautiful oasis.
Sweet Lane Wholesale Nursery began 15 years ago as a partnership of four. But shortly after the first year, Grossi and Sweet bought out the other partners.
The nursery started with two truckloads of materials for Oregon as the business aimed to bring in materials they couldn’t source locally.
“If it’s grown on this planet, we can get it,” said Grossi.
Sweet Lane Nursery’s customers include contractors, landscape designers and architects from all over the Bay Area. Due to zoning restrictions Sweet Lane is not a retail location and can not sell to the public.
They have made it easy for contractors and landscapers to come in and get their products. They have a large stock of trees and screening materials; Sweet Lane stocks more products than most nurseries. From Japanese Maples to unusual conifers and hedges shaped like bears and tea cups, Sweet Lane has a large selection of products.
Sweet loves the Japanese Maples for their aesthetic qualities while Grossi prefers conifers which aren’t as common in Sonoma County.
Offering 1,200-1,400 varieties of plants, Sweet Lane feels they have something for everyone. Because the trees they offer are larger and have reached maturity, they said selling their products gives customers instant gratification.
The nursery is 10 acres, with three and a half acres in grape production from which they make their own wine. The nursery has no production grounds and all the items they have are finished and ready for sale. They are smaller than a standard wholesale nursery which might be 100-300 acres, but larger than most retail nurseries, generally one to two acres.
The nursery manager, Joe Hadley, attributes much of their success to the level of service they can offer their customers. They can make deliveries happen and have a very knowledgeable staff to help customers develop the perfect landscape for their clients.
Hadley says the team is very well seasoned. They have four salespeople and yard staff who have decades of experience. They have a low turnover making their team well-informed and helpful to customers.
“It’s more than just selling and loading an order,” said Hadley. “It’s making sure they ship well.”
Susie has turned their beautiful property with expert landscaping and many varieties of trees into a destination for weddings. Her knowledge of the foliage in their yard allows her to plan weddings for a specific time of year when the bride and groom’s favorite varieties are in bloom.
Her business that she runs with a friend, Sweet Lane Gardens, already has ten weddings booked for next year. “Trees are a lot like people,” said Grossi, “they all have their place.”