Kent Petterson fondly recounts how he transformed a side hustle of selling gardening books from home into being known as having one of the largest selections of gardening books in the United States. “It started in the garden,” he laughs.
Thirty years later, the wooden floors of the 1804 gingerbread brick house that houses Terrace Horticultural Books in St. Paul’s West End are groaning under the weight of some 25,000 volumes. It’s a maze of rabbit rooms – a maze of shelves filled with books – new and old, hard to find and out of print, alongside vintage seed catalogs, periodicals and garden-related ephemera. This is heaven for green souls looking for all kinds of plant-related knowledge. Petterson caters to that client who wants to dig deeper and who “always likes to hold a book in their hands.”
And there was this time when Martha Stewart stepped in. After a book signing downtown, she learned about this hidden treasure and purchased an armful of books on topics as varied as heirloom plums and turn-of-the-century planters.
It’s only natural that Petterson takes care of the lush gardens that surround the bookstore. He may be selling old tomes, but his garden design is cutting edge: He made the entire landscape pollinator-friendly with a grant from Lawns to Vegetables.
Growing interest in gardening during COVID, combined with online sales, has helped Petterson navigate the pandemic smoothly. 503 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-5536, terracehorticulturalbooks.com