Michler’s Florist and Greenhouse

We’ve been experiencing a colder snowier March than usual here in Kentucky. It’s left me dreaming about the tulips and daffodils and hyacinth that have yet to bloom and the lush greens of summer that I know are coming… oh, if they would just hurry a little!

To help me through this cold and snowy day, I’ve been revisiting some photographs I took of Michler’s Florist and Greenhouse last June on it’s 112th anniversary.

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The place is magical. It is an oasis bursting with green, the scent of delicate blooms and earthy mosses.  When you walk through the entrance, it’s like walking into a fairy world. It’s almost unbelievable that such a verdant, quiet and charming space can exist just blocks from downtown Lexington.

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Situated  in the historic Aylesford neighborhood, this urban greenhouse  is crowded on all sides by large 19th and 20th century houses and is fronted by a busy thoroughfare.  Once inside though, the busy world falls away. It’s quiet and peaceful and the century-old  greenhouses and shop let you believe for a moment that you’ve stepped back in time.

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Through the partially deconstructed greenhouse, the chimney of the furnace that once heated all the greenhouses can plainly be seen.

In 1869,  Carl Michler came to the United States from Wuertenberg, Germany. Trained in floriculture and landscape gardening, he settled in to Lexington. In 1900, after receiving an inheritance from his brother Wilhelm, a famous scientist, Carl built the first of seven large greenhouses on Maxwell Street.  His greenhouses (plus a few more from a similar era that were bought from a nearby horse farm) are still owned and operated by the  fourth and fifth generations of his descendants.

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When the business opened, it was called Michler Bros. for Carl’s two sons.  After World War II, Carl’s grandson took over the florist shop and greenhouses, which by that time were being run by his father, Louis.   Karl successfully guided the business for decades and when he retired, he passed it along to his son.  John Michler and his wife, artist Claudia Kane Michler, inherited it and the family home next door.  Together with their son, Robin, they’ve brought the business into the 21st century. It now has an online shop, a garden center, landscaping service and the collection of species and varieties reflects John’s ever evolving interests – Japanese gardens being his latest love.

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The hydrangea garden is so luscious and green it’s almost disappears within the dense foliage.

Despite these changes, the Michlers hold onto their roots. Unlike most garden centers, the majority of the vast variety of plants sold at Michler’s are still raised in the greenhouses on site, most of its employees live in the neighborhood, and it is still a labor of love. And it is that love that is most evident.

The Michlers have been proven to be excellent stewards of their business, their historic structures and their historic neighborhood. John was even instrumental in designating the Aylesford neighborhood as a local historic district!

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A look at the Michler Bros. Florist shop (right) and the Michler residence (left) in 1921. Image via Kentucky Digital Library

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The florist shop as it looks today. Image via Tom Eblen

If you are suffering through another cold and snowy March day like me, I hope that these photos helped you through.  Here’s to spring!

Read more here about Michler’s here.
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3 comments

  1. Pingback: Happy Preservation Month 2013! | Bricks + Mortar

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