Located in Pierre, South Dakota, is East Pierre Landscape and Garden Center, a store that offers a myriad of products and services that includes live funeral arrangements, educational seminars, houseplants, seasonal arrangements, vegetables and greenhouse and nursery rental space, along with gifts and garden art.
The center has about a half-acre of covered greenhouse, a landscape division and plant nursery, with plans of building a new greenhouse for citrus and leafy greens production. As the premier shop in central South Dakota, the year-round center sees a lot of faces, partly because of its location on South Dakota Highway 34, and proximity to Farm Island State Recreation Area.
What attracts those visitors, however, are the hanging baskets that are displayed along their fence.
“The state park gets about three quarters of a million visitors each year, so people see [the baskets] from there and they stop in,” says Art Smith, owner of East Pierre Landscape and Garden Center. “People always say we have a nice highway presence because of the baskets and the community members seem to like them too.”
East Pierre sells three hanging baskets from Eckert’s Greenhouse: the 28-inch Wrap Around Container, the 16-inch Weekender and the 23-inch Labor Saver. While customers flock to all three baskets, Smith says he sells more of the Weekender because “they have more colors to them and people are always looking for that.”
The center also helps decorate its community with 28 Wrap Around Containers displayed on light posts throughout the city. Fort Pierre — a neighboring city across the river — is also in talks of adding 27 displays to their own.
What initially attracted Smith to the baskets were their water-retaining ability and sturdiness, but most importantly, their water retention and pot design.
“That extra insulation provided by the second layer of plastic with another layer in between an open-air flow really means that the sun cannot touch the root,” he says. “So the water needs of the plant is very much reduced over a single wall type of pot.”
This is essential to Smith because while South Dakota gets extreme winters, it also gets extreme summers with temperatures reaching 100° F. Smith says the second layer of plastic allows for more water retention without the sun drying the pot out.
Now in their fifth year in partnership with Eckert’s Greenhouse, Smith says another reason why he loves the baskets is because of their durability. Because South Dakota has “poor water with lots of salt,” the salinity can decrease plant growth. But not with Eckert’s Greenhouse hanging baskets. Other than water marks, a natural occurrence with salty water, Smith says they hold up pretty well.
“They’re built tough,” he says. “There’s nothing negative I can say about them at all.”