Richmond nurseries Enchanted Gardens and Enchanted Forest

Owner Gary Lenderman (center) with daughter, Judy, and son, Danny.

Owner Gary Lenderman (center) with daughter, Judy, and son, Danny.

Enchanted Gardens and Enchanted Forest Employee Socorro Rodriquez has been working at Enchanted Gardens for 12 years.[/caption]

Enchanted Gardens and Enchanted Forest in Richmond grew courtesy of the green thumbs of co-founders Betty and Gary Lenderman. Betty, a biologist, had a love for gardening, and Gary, a chemist, “got pulled into it,” he said. In the 1970s, the couple started their first business, Country Gardens.

From there, Gary and Betty’s passion for gardening led to additional locations. Three of their five children now manage the family businesses.   

“It’s a lot of work, but people like to see all aspects of [gardening],” daughter Judy Ulke said. “I think with advancements in technology, people are craving something that’s more tactile.”

Both plant nurseries carry a wide variety of trees, vegetables, flowers, shrubbery and garden accessories. Gary, who has stepped back from managing the business, suggests planting trees and shrubbery during the fall to ensure a beautiful garden for April and May.

However, he said gardening is not for the easily discouraged—especially when it comes to working with Texas soil.

“People dig a hole in the clay [soil], pop something in it and expect it to grow,” Lenderman said. “Clay soil holds water like a bathtub, so you need to make a raised bed on top with good soil.”

Customers who are not interested in tilling the ground to prepare a large garden can buy containers sold at the store. Judy said containers are popular because they do not require as much maintenance as a full-size garden.

To educate customers on gardening, staffers at both locations offer seminars almost every weekend, ranging from fairy garden workshops to herb planting.

The family is still recovering from the June flood that wiped out a majority of the greenery. However, Ulke and Lenderman said the rebuilding has been worthwhile to be able to spread their knowledge and passion for gardening.

Enchanted Forest employee Rebecca Band said she sought a scenic, peaceful workplace when she came from Wyoming to Texas with her husband.

“I’ve never had a job that I wanted to stay at this long,” Band said. “So it has something to say about the people.”

By Kelly Schafler

Managing editor, South Houston

Kelly joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2017 after majoring in print journalism and creative writing at the University of Houston. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor for the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition and began covering the Spring and Klein area as well in August 2020. In June 2021, Kelly was promoted to South Houston managing editor.