The year was 1974. After
having spent the previous 25 years working for Joy’s Greenhouses, Mary
Pendleton started her second greenhouse stint: Bates Nursery. Joy’s Greenhouse
Mary started to work for my dad at the beginning of the foliage plant craze. We had not yet built the garden center. The process of expanding into the foliage/tropical plant business had begun and Mary was a day one acquisition: a first-round draft choice.
Mary did not have a green thumb…she had two. There was nothing Mary couldn’t grow. She was the driving force behind everything tropical we sold. From dish-gardens to fern baskets to annuals: Mary did it all. To describe Mary Pendleton as Old School is an understatement. She was Old School before there was an old school. She was hard working, no nonsense, honest-as-the-day-is-long and would not tolerate laziness for 1 minute.
If you were her friend, she was your best. If you crossed her, she would cross you off. I don’t think she was a person who held grudges. She simply had no time for “foolishness” or anything less than absolute dedication to the task at hand. Mary was a WORKER, and if you were supposed to work in the greenhouse…and you didn’t measure up; you were gone! Conversely, she was also fun-loving and a very caring person. Today we would refer to her as, ‘complex’.
There was nothing Mary enjoyed more than working in her own garden and cooking. She was superb at both. I believe she single-handedly is responsible for the widespread use of Bradley tomato plants in the middle
In 2002 Mary Pendleton retired after being diagnosed with then early-stage Alzheimer’s. Mary passed away this past week, just 4 months shy of her 90th birthday. Mary lived life to the fullest. She was quite a treasure… a wonderful friend who left an indelible mark.