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Duluth’s ex-city gardener Kasper lands new job at Engwalls | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 7.04.05 AMPublished April 02, 2013, 12:00 AM

Duluth’s ex-city gardener Kasper lands new job at Engwalls

Engwalls garden center has hired the man previously behind the city of Duluth’s standout gardens, including Enger Park, the Rose Garden and the Civic Center gardens.

By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune

Engwalls garden center has hired the man previously behind the city of Duluth’s standout gardens, including Enger Park, the Rose Garden and the Civic Center gardens.

Tom Kasper, the longtime city gardener who resigned in October as Duluth’s building and grounds supervisor, picked the plant combinations that create changing color from spring to fall in the city parks.

He is now manager of Engwalls’ garden centers.

“He gets an opportunity to express all he has learned with one of his life’s passions,” said owner Rod Saline. “And from Engwalls’ perspective, it’s just a great fit.”

Besides bringing his expertise to the job, Kasper plans to broaden plant selections at Engwalls Florists, Greenhouses & Garden Centers to include new varieties and native and zone-tested plants. There’ll be more vegetable plants, organic options and educational seminars.

“I’m excited about it,” Kasper said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. My love of plants has gone on for decades. To be in a garden center and around plants and help people make good garden choices is a dream come true for me.”

Kasper is well-known in the local gardening community. A lifelong gardener, he is president of the Duluth Garden Flower Society and appears on WDSE-TV’s “Great Gardening” and KUMD-FM’s “Tips for Hardy Gardens with Tom Kasper.”

He’s also been on the Duluth School Board since 2009, currently serving as its chairman.

Although Kasper has been Engwalls’ “lead garden enthusiast” since February, he goes public at this week’s Arrowhead Home & Builder’s Show at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

There, Kasper will help staff the Engwalls exhibit and lead seminars.

Kasper comes to Engwalls after resigning from his city job in October under a cloud. A city investigation of allegations against Kasper was under way. The nature of those allegations was never made public because Kasper resigned before disciplinary action was completed, prohibiting the release of details under state law.

That didn’t matter to Saline.

“It is just a natural opportunity for Engwalls and for Tom,” Saline said. “I’ve known Tom for a long time. It did not have an effect on our decision.”

Kasper declined to talk about the resignation, saying he’s just looking to the future and to be part of the gardening community at Engwalls.

Longtime friends, Saline and Kasper have talked about joining forces for years. Kasper had previously done some part-time design work, consultations and seminars for Engwalls.

In his new job, Kasper will be responsible for managing Engwalls’ three garden center locations — the main center in Hermantown, the summer satellite site at the Kenwood Shopping Center in Duluth and a new site this year at Burggraff’s Ace Hardware at Superior Street and 13th Avenue East in Duluth.

He will lead a team of 35 employees serving customers at the three centers. He’ll oversee new services including a garden club, organic and other products, and a residential and business greenery maintenance service.

“I want to expand the plant selections, modeling after what St. Louis County is recommending for northern Minnesota, which has been tested in the area,” Kasper said. “So we’ll really be giving gardeners a chance to be successful.”

He’ll also offer free garden design consultations, which he’ll do himself.

“People can come in with a sketch or photograph of their yard, and we’ll draw up a quick little plan for them,” Kasper said.

Because those consultations with Kasper are expected to be in demand, appointments will be necessary.Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 7.10.39 AM

via Duluth’s ex-city gardener Kasper lands new job at Engwalls | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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