Who We Are

Deep Roots

What is now Skinner Garden Store started out as a wholesale nursery in the Kaw River Valley over 130 years ago.

When founder Joseph Henry Skinner planted the nursery in 1886, the fertile river valley soil provided the perfect environment for cultivating apple tree seedlings. At the time, the demand for fruit trees was high, and the reputation of Skinner’s stock spread fast.

As society changed with new food storage and grocery technology, the market for fruit trees diminished while demand rose for ornamental shrubs, flowers, evergreens, and shade trees. In 1956, the third generation of Skinners–brothers named Ralph and Hank–expanded the nursery wholesale business with a new garden center retail space, which today remains Skinner Garden Store.

The garden center became known as the place to come for supplies and advice year round. Its manager Don Roepke eventually purchased the retail space.

Meanwhile, the nursery continued fulfilling wholesale orders until the Skinner brothers passed away in the early 1980s. At that point, the wholesale nursery came under the leadership of a son and a grandson of the Skinner brothers, who eventually decided to cease its operation.

The grandson, Jim Skinner, went to work for the Garden Store and now operates the landscaping service, bringing a lifetime of nursery experience to that role.

Don Roepke ran Skinner Garden Store until he retired in 1990, selling half the interest to long-time Skinner general manager Jack Rees, from the Rees Fruit Farm family. Jack’s son Cameron joined him in the business and they worked alongside each other until 2009, when Jack retired.

These days, Cameron Rees and the rest of the Skinner Garden Store team continue the deep-rooted legacy of devotion to plants and their people with quality products and garden answers.

Fun Facts

2.5 m

In 1902 the nursery fulfilled one order totalling 2.5 million apple trees.

90%

At one time an estimated 90 percent of all apple seedlings were from Topeka.

Meet our plant people

Brian Boyce

Nursery Sales

Ask me for help with:
Any of your tree or shrub questions
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Money Tree
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Redbud
Year started with Skinner’s:
2015

Brian Buhler

Nursery Manager

Ask me for help with:
Food
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Cottonwood
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Butterfly Magnolia
Year started with Skinner’s:
2008

Misty Brown

Lath House Manager

Ask me for help with:
Putting together a beautiful container garden for any season
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
A Hardy Hibiscus
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Little Quickfire Hydrangea
Year started with Skinner’s:
2010

Jonelle Custenborder

Assistant Manager

Ask me for help with:

Perennials
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Echinacea/Coneflower
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Buddleia/Butterfly Bush
Year started with Skinner’s:
2019

Bonnie Huber

Assistant Manager

Ask me for help with:
Perennials & Annuals
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Hosta
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Oakleaf Hydrangea
Year started with Skinner’s:
2010

Bruno Langer

Nursery Sales

Ask me for help with:
Planting a bush or a tree
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
White Fir
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Norway Spruce or Yellow Magnolia
Year started with Skinner’s:
2018

Pedro Lopez

Assistant Manager

Ask me for help with:
Pruning or planting. Trees are the answer!
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Burr Oak
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Redbud
Year started with Skinner’s:
2002

Mukesh Patel

Nursery Sales

Ask me for help with:
Hot, spicy food
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Hot chile pepper
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Red Rose
Year started with Skinner’s:
2016

Mike Ray

Store Manager

Ask me for help with:
Lawn care, organic vegetable gardening, foraging/growing edible mushrooms, and all things Grateful Dead
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Giant Sequoia
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Tulsi/Holy Basil tea garden
Year started with Skinner’s:
2016

Cameron Rees

General Manager

Ask me for help with:
Your garden
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Burr Oak
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Weeping White Spruce
Year started with Skinner’s:
1982

Tina Rees

Assistant Manager

Ask me for help with:
How to make a pie like your grandmother used to
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Mohawk Viburnum
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Sugar Maple
Year started with Skinner’s:
2006

Jacob Rosebrough

Landscaping Foreman

Ask me for help with:
Landscaping
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Autumn Blaze Maple
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Boxwood
Year started with Skinner’s:
2016

Jim Skinner

Landscaping Supervisor

Ask me for help with:
Planting trees or landscaping
If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Burr Oak
Favorite plant or tree at home:
Red Oak
Year started with Skinner’s:
1992

Kathy Olson

Office Manager/Bookkeeper

Ask me for help with:
Identification of native birds

If I were a plant or tree, I would be:
Weeping Willow

Favorite plant or tree at home:
Swedish Ivy started from my mom’s plant

Year started with Skinner’s:
2018

Minda Rios

(info coming soon)

Hours

Regular Hours

Monday-Friday – 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Saturday –  8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
Sunday – 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Winter Hours

Monday-Saturday – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
Sunday Closed