By Haley Weisgerber
Elizabeth Elliott had the unique experience of knowing what she wanted to be when she grew up while she was working at one of her first jobs as a young adult. She worked at Himmel’s Landscape and Garden Center and quickly realized that one day she would love to own the business.
“I was always fascinated by it,” said Elliott. “I started working here and came to realize that I love plants, I love landscaping, and mostly, I love creating relationships with my customers.”
She was inspired to start her own landscaping business, Sunnyscapes, and then spent 18 years in the corporate world. Almost 20 years after Elliott left Himmel’s, Steve, the founder, called Elliott because he was interested in selling and remembered her dream of one day taking over. On August 1, 2018, Elliott officially achieved her goal of owning Himmel’s.
“We are 100 percent woman owned and operated,” said Elliott. “And we are all very proud of that. We have a lot of women employees here, including some of our landscape install crew. Two of them are women!”
Elliott now works hard to ensure that Himmel’s is a valuable asset within the community. Himmel’s partners with many nonprofits such as ClearShark H20, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Anne Arundel County Public Library, the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, and so many more.
“Our mission is helping our neighbors build a better, healthier and more beautiful world,” said Elliott. “It’s very important to the foundation of this business that we’re not just here to sell plants. We are here to improve the community and create meaningful relationships.”
Himmel’s has two departments – retail and landscaping. The retail department offers bulk and bagged mulch and soils, sod and seed, stone and concrete, garden decor and seasonal decorations. The center has all types of plants, from native trees and shrubs to perennials and annuals and even succulents. The landscaping department offers full-service design and installation, maintenance, restoration, patios, fire pits, custom-built garden beds and chicken coops, and more.
“The sky’s the limit is how I see it,” said Elliott. “Our motto is ‘Just ask!’ Some of our customers have very unique and even outrageous ideas, and we do whatever we can to help bring their vision to reality.”
One of the most important things to Elliott is encouraging the use of native plants for pollinators and for improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways. She is conscious of this in all of her design plans.
“Our landscape design incorporates plant material that will be deer resistant, drought tolerant, wind tolerant; specimens that will survive and thrive here in our environment,” said Elliott. “The bay-friendly landscape design concept is something that we’re really focused on because the small steps truly impact the health of the environment on a larger scale.”
Elliott said that what sets the landscaping department apart is the crew’s commitment to executing each installation with courtesy, professionalism, and attention to even the smallest details. She started with seven employees and has grown her team to include 31 employees. Elliott said her staff manager, Rudy “The Legend” Rivenburg, has taken a group that was already fantastic and transformed them into a close-knit team dedicated to Himmel’s goal to foster healthy plants and contribute to a happy community. She said all the businesses’ success is thanks to the staff.
“People come in here and say that I’ve transformed this place, or that it looks amazing,” said Elliott. “It’s not me. It is my employees working tirelessly to not only make the place look beautiful, but to create a welcoming atmosphere every single day.”
In the future, Elliott wants Himmel’s to be the first place that comes to mind for all garden and landscaping needs throughout the county.
“I want everyone in Anne Arundel County to know about Himmel’s. To know that they can come here and have all their landscaping and gardening needs met,” said Elliott. “Whether it’s a first-time gardener who wants to try just a pot of herbs or a gardener who’s been doing it for decades, we welcome everyone to share in our mission of creating a better world.”