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Living a gardener’s dream: Ishpeming resident opens greenhouse at 70

Linda Andriacchi, 70, stands in her backyard flower gardens in Ishpeming. She recently opened up a new business in Ishpeming, The Plant Connection, and she hopes to bring a unique service to the community by helping people choose the right plant aesthetics for their home. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)
Echinacea, or coneflowers, in Linda Andriacchi's flower gardens in Ishpeming are among some of the hundreds of plants she enjoys growing each season, as they come in different varieties and colors. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)
A pergola stands in Linda Andriacchi's backyard in Ishpeming with hanging flower pots and vines decorating it. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)
Tomatoes sprout out of a hanging pot at Linda Andriacchi's Ishpeming home. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)
Pots of pink and purple flowers add a vibrant touch to the vines in Linda Andriacchi's home gardens. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)

ISHPEMING

— Even at 70 years old, dreams can come true if one sets their mind to it.

Linda Andriacchi of Ishpeming had always dreamed of opening a plant business and providing a service that’s unique in the community. This came to fruition with the recent ribbon cutting at Andriacchi’s new Ishpeming business, The Plant Connection LLC. And her greenhouse is focusing on finding unusual plants, hard-to-find varieties and new releases.

As the only certified Proven Winners dealer in Ishpeming, The Plant Connection also features Crescent Garden Tru Drop self-watering containers and Michael Carr Designs Aqua Pots.

Opening The Plant Connection has been a long time coming, she said. Furthermore, Andriacchi said she’s looking forward to helping people decorate their porches or add some curb appeal to their homes.

“I love planting, I love plants and I love shopping for plants. A woman loves to shop. And when you’re using somebody else’s money to get the things they want, it’s even more fun,” Andriacchi said. “I want to be a personal plant shopper; I want to find plants for people that they can’t find anywhere … I just decided I’d open a greenhouse. It’s something I wanted to do for years and years.”

With her passion for plants, one might wonder if gardening was on her mind throughout her life.

“No, I was into boys, actually,” she said, giggling about her younger years. “My parents were gardeners. My dad always did the vegetable gardens and my mother did the ornamentals — gardening was the furthest thing from my mind. But you know, as you get older you start getting into that sort of thing.”

Though she did some house planting in her 20s, it wasn’t until her late 30s that Andriacchi became more intrigued with outside gardening and wanted to become more educated on the topic.

So she went to community classes and took the Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Program in 1998. She became a master gardener a year later and an advanced master gardener a few years after that.

In 2019, Andriacchi logged over 1,000 volunteer hours as a master gardener and continues to update her education. She also enjoys teaching gardening to others, as she usually hosts a five-week spring gardening program at Westwood High School.

With her new business, she hopes to offer educational seminars, especially during the winter.

“I want to have a special garden center where you not only buy your plant there, but you’re educated as well, so you know how to take care of it. And I want to work with the customer. I don’t want to just sell it and forget it,” she said.

Before Andriacchi became a “personal plant shopper,” she married her husband Dominic in 1980 and then moved to Lansing where he attended Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The couple then returned to Ishpeming in 1984 and later opened the family law firm. On top of running the office and managing secretarial duties, Andriacchi raised four children. But she always yearned for an independent business.

After acquiring her LLC in 2017, the dream of opening up her own greenhouse shop was finally coming to life.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s me. When you’re married to somebody who everybody knows, most of the time they’re the ones people know and you just kind of fade in the background,” Andriacchi said. “This way it’s like when I bought my first car myself. (It) is a whole new feeling being a woman that you don’t have to rely on somebody else (because) you’re doing it yourself… You’re helping people out and making them happy, which makes you happy. And you’re doing it yourself.”

Over the years, Andriacchi said she’s learned the tricks to gardening, which include proper soils, fertilizers and plant maintenance.

Gardening has many benefits, she said, adding that it’s a rewarding and healthy hobby that can be therapeutic to the soul.

“I almost feel like it’s spiritual when you’re out there and you can hear the birds singing and see all the wildlife around you and everything is silent except for maybe the birds in the background,” she remarked. “One day I … heard this cardinal singing this beautiful song and (thought), ‘I just discovered Heaven. Here it is, right here. This has got to be what it is.’ Amazing. It’s so beautiful.”

Whether it’s the butterflies on the milkweed or the bumble bees pollinating the echinacea, or coneflowers, nature puts life in perspective, she said.

“It’s creating. It’s relaxing. You have a problem when you go out to the garden and by the time you’re done with your day out there, you’ve either solved it or you’ve just totally forgotten about it, so it’s not going to bother you anymore,” she said.

Being a gardener also keeps the mind active and helps with weight management, Andriacchi said.

Even at 70, some days she’s putting in 20,000 steps in the garden.

“I’m not going to let age get me down. I’m going to keep going,” she said. “… Like my husband says, ‘You think you’re 16 still.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but sometimes you think you’re 100.’ So it works out the same way. I just want to keep going.”

And when it comes to gardening, Andriacchi longs to share her knowledge with younger generations.

“Start small if you’re hesitant, but keep working at it, because it’s going to turn out to be something you really enjoy doing. It’s going to keep you active. It’s going to make you feel good,” she said. “You have something to show your friends; you have a little competition with your neighbor — it can get to be really something nice to do and you’re one-on-one with nature. So it’s you and nature and you’re working together.”

As she is still working full-time at the law firm, Andriacchi’s greenhouse business is currently by appointment only. To make an appointment for a private greenhouse tour or curbside pick up, call 906-360-4422. To order plants online, visit plantconnectionllc.com.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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