At Hill’s Gardens, our family roots run deep! Established in 1903, Hill’s has a long history in the Albert Lea community. We have generations of shoppers and nothing makes us more proud than to see them shopping together or stories of “when Grandma would bring me here…”, etc. As a generational family owned and operated business we share many of those same memories from growing up and working here. We work hard to provide a nice variety of products and healthy plants for your success. We hope you’ll notice a difference when you shop with us.
Hill’s Gardens is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated greenhouse grower and retailer founded in the early 1900’s. Enjoy the timeline compiled below to give you a glimpse into our story…
Farming, Fields & Truck Sales
Fred Hill & Fred Raben (1903 – 1936)
Fred Hill began farming and selling his produce around town from his truck with business partner Fred Raben. Fred and Violet (Ruble) Hill had four children. The Hill family grew and the children helped farm the land. Their only son, Charles Daniel (Dan or C. Dan) ran the business from the mid-1930’s on after his father passed away.
Farming, Produce Roadside Stand
C. Dan & Ethel Hill (1936-1970+)
Dan and his new wife Ethel (Highby) continued the family business and started a roadside market in the late 1930’s. The roadside stand grew, eventually adding plants and flowers for sale in addition to the produce. The first retail greenhouse was added in the early 1950’s.
Oralite Greenhouse, foray into annuals
The addition of annual plant sales ushered in new growth for the business. Dan & Ethel’s four children grew up helping and working as the generation before them. The business, previously known as Hill’s Market & Gardens, was incorporated by Dan Hill as Hill’s Garden’s Inc. in 1969.
Paul & Judy Hill purchase the business
Eventually middle son Paul & his wife Judy (Amundson) Hill bought the business from Dan, his father in 1977. Together they continued to grow and run the business, involving their two children along the way.
Urn Service Business
At one point Hill’s offered a full cemetery urn service which lasted almost 30 years (1970’s-1990’s). Eventually this business was sold off. There were many upgrades and additions to both the original retail structure as well as the production facility.
Production facility build out –
The “Big Top”
By this time son Tony had graduated from college and returned to continue the tradition of the family business alongside his parents. With a need for additional growing space, two large greenhouses were built in Winter of 1998, now referred to as “The Big Top”.
Morton storage building
The need for storage grew and with that a new Morton building was built in 2000. The floor was poured a year later. This still serves as a vital piece to our operations today.
Retail Store Rebuilt (in two phases):
I. Greenhouses – Fall/winter 2004
II. Store – Fall/winter 2005
Spring 2006 – Same place, new space!
In 2004 a major demolition and rebuilding from the ground up took place in two stages. First the new retail greenhouses were rebuilt, followed by the new retail store. Complete by spring 2006, we held a grand re-opening…same place, new space to carry our business into the future. Now customers have more room to shop and more selection to choose from. However, our main focus has always been and continues to be, growing and retailing quality.
Annual Open House Event
Since 2006 Grand Re-Opening
Every year since our new retail space re-opened, we’ve hosted an annual Spring open house for the community with free refreshments, in-store discounts, daily door prizes and free activities for the kids. We also started promoting garden arbor pictures in our greenhouses to area prom-goers – a hit when MN spring weather isn’t ideal!
We celebrated our 120th Anniversary Season in 2023. Tony & family, alongside Judy after Paul’s passing, continue the family business into another generation of Hill’s – with help from sister Melonie who stays involved. A Family Tradition Since 1903. We look forward to serving our community and loyal customers for generations to come.