Along the Garden Path: Bluestone perennial plants grown in Ohio


When purchasing annuals and perennials, we like to buy from the people who actually grow them and not just shipped in to them. For perennials, we look online to Bluestone Perennials located in Madison, Ohio.

Bluestone is a family owned and operated business founded in 1972 by Richard Boonstra. Located close to Lake Erie in northeast Ohio, Bluestone grows and ships more than 3 million plants a year nationwide.

Bluestone Perennials, now in their 46th year, was started in two small rented glass houses in Mentor, Ohio in 1972. Richard Boonstra had a vision that the new plastic cell-packs and soil-less potting mediums were a natural fit with mailorder marketing and sales. He and his wife, Patti, and their two teen-aged children set their feet on a path that would become their life’s work. They shipped 400 orders that first year from a card table sized office set up in the potting area. Three years and larger rented facilities later, sales were good enough for Rich to devote himself full time to Bluestone.

In 1975, the Boonstras purchased a vegetable farm on 47 acres in Madison, Ohio. The big farmhouse was in sad repair, but the land was good. They set about fixing up the house, and for the first 15 years, the office occupied half of the house. That first year Bluestone sold vegetables, mums, pumpkins, and perennials. Every year saw growth and more greenhouses.

As Bluestone continued to evolve, the second generation of the Boonstra family joined the business. Bill returned to the business first in 1983, bringing his young family and wife, Sarah, back to Madison. Daughter Jan later returned from Michigan with her husband, Al Pavlinak, and their son. By 1994, Bill had taken over the family business with continued help and support from family members Sarah, Jan and Al. Rich eventually retired to pursue his many hobbies while remaining close by – he and Patti still live on the nursery’s property.

In the recent years, the third generation of the Boonstra family has also come to join the company’s ranks. Bill and Sarah’s son Rick lends his engineering and programming expertise to numerous projects while daughter Jess acts as the company’s graphic designer.

Thanks to Bluestone’s many loyal employees – many of whom have been with the company since the early days – Bluestone has grown to be one of the largest mail order nurseries in the country. The company does their own packing and shipping, employs a staff of over 100 during their busy spring season and maintains over 250,000 square feet of greenhouses filled with more than 3 million plants. The company has also emerged as an industry leader in green practices – recently switching to 100 percent biodegradable pots and eliminating the use of shipping peanuts in their packaging. They grow and ship their own plants, assuring great quality and service.

They offer 160 new varieties just this spring. The friendly staff can help in finding plants that attract Butterflies, deer resistant plants and shrubs, fragrant shrubs, plants that are good for the beginner gardener, their sun and shade requirements and plants suitable for containers.

The on-line website is and the phone number is 800-852-5243. They have an outstanding catalog – you can request a copy on that website or by calling the 800 number. Check them out but most important, they are from right here in Ohio.

By Charlene Thornhill

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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