Woodland Gardens History
In 1939 John Zapadka, a horticultural "teacher," started Woodland Gardens to augment his peddling enterprise. In those early years, pansies, our founding crop, were field-dug from the area that is now our parking lot. Also early in the garden center's history, John began the "WoodGard" brand of packaged seeds and sold them door-to-door. The seed line was so popular that it was only recently retired. In the following decade, the nursery expanded with two new glass greenhouses and cold-frame greenhouses added to the eight-acre property.
During the prosperous post-World War II years, customers expanded their interests from traditional vegetable gardens to include decorative flowers and landscape shrubs. Such plants remain some of our best sellers to this day.
Throughout the '60s and '70s, increased use of plastic greenhouse coverings and plastic production pots fueled rapid growth of the Woodland Gardens business. Plastic houses still dominate the Woodland Gardens landscape today. During those years, Woodland Gardens grew to 15 fully operating greenhouses.
In the early '70s, Woodland Gardens became a family-held corporation, which it is to this day. Constant plant propagation, retail pursuits, and day-to-day operations saw Woodland Gardens continue to thrive throughout the 1980s.
John died in 1991, and his son Leon doubled his duties. By that time, however, Leon's sister Diane, son Luke, and daughter Bethany had become an integral part of the business. Throughout the '90s, Woodland Gardens expanded its product lines in both retail goods and plants and the company strengthened its reputation as one of Connecticut's most reliable and knowledgeable garden centers, selling over a million plants annually.