One of Us

Kathy Esfahani


How did you get into this line of work?

It’s really kind of funny. My first career was in the beauty salon industry. I owned a salon for 15 years in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where I’m from.

I sold that and moved here with my family — it was a business transfer for my husband. I got my Master Gardener certification. And I really taught myself a lot about gardening, because I was really into flowers.

So, I was working in my yard and my friends’ yards, and the next thing I know, I decided to start a business. That was 17 years ago. One thing led to another, and I don’t even know how — I wasn’t really looking to move in here — but by that time I had grown to where I needed to keep my trucks and my trailers and materials someplace.

So, I rented this land for two years. As I was renting it, I decided to make it a nursery, as well, because I needed the plants to install for customers. So, I just decided to open the nursery.

You sell plants, pavers, water features — what else?

We do installations, as well, which is a huge part of our business. And I have planters and ornamentals for your garden. Wind chimes or baskets, birdbaths. Those kinds of things.

What is your typical day like?

[Laughs] I would make your head spin! Because I make everybody else’s head spin.

My typical day starts at 5 a.m. I start working on the computer. And I have three crews to go out every single day. I have to get them organized. We start at 7:45. So, up and at ’em, getting them going to three different jobs. And maybe a fourth if it’s pavers.

We also do maintenance. Not mowing and blowing, but hand-weeding and as your personal gardener. One of my crews pretty much does that. And we have 50-something accounts a month that they just go and hand-weed and trim and prune as needed.

Then, I’m on one to three jobs, making sure the plants get where they need to be. Just depending on how large the job is.

Of course, I can’t even tell you how many emails and phone calls I have to return. Fortunately, I have an assistant, Leslie, who is awesome.

Then, at some point in time, I go for consults.

I get home about 7:30 to 8 o’clock at night. Then, I start back over at 5 in the morning.

What do you like best about what you do?

I love people. I could never be behind a desk. But what I love most is finishing a project and just seeing the smiles and the excitement from my customers. That they’re blown away over what I’ve done.

I have a lot of people tell me, “This is like TV. You’ve transformed it overnight. Transformed it in one day!”

We actually do a lot of transformations in one day. That’s probably the most fun. Because people are just shocked. Like, how did we transform that?

What should new residents know about gardening here?

We do have a lot of people coming from the North. Probably what I would want to tell them is: They have to speak to someone who has some knowledge.

Then, they need to educate themselves on the summer flowers. They might have some of them up North, but they don’t last as long.

The other thing I would say is: Everything grows three times faster and bigger than what theirs grows up North.

They just need to realize: Everything needs to be cut. It needs to be pruned. You don’t have to allow it to grow as far as it will grow. Cut it.

I think that’s the hardest thing for people, even us, when they’re blooming. Such as hibiscus. They bloom beautiful flowers all the time. And then, all of a sudden, they are eight feet high.

You’ve got to cut it, and you’ve got to cut it with the flowers on it. If you wait until there are no flowers, you’re never going to cut it. It blooms all the time.

You also have a community-minded spirit.

I love to give back to the community. I do a lot of charity work. So, I don’t mind doing that. We have a lot of people, schools and stuff, that have asked us for something. Whether it be a plant to sell or a gift certificate. I do the RITA tennis tournament. I go and set up a healing garden. That’s in Sawgrass Country Club every May.

It takes us half a day with all my crews to set up big trees and big flowers and big plants. The whole tennis court area.

And then Roscolusa; that’s coming up in Nocatee. It’s a big song event, and it’s outdoors. We put in probably 30 palm trees and just flowers everywhere. The front entryway, the VIP area and the stage area. It takes three trucks and trailers to get all the stuff.

We set it up on Friday in half a day with all my crew. And then we come on Sunday and take it back down.

What do you like best about living here?

I love the beach. I love the Intracoastal. I’m a boater, so I love boating.

Of course, you can’t beat Ponte Vedra Beach. I love the people. They come from everywhere. Everybody’s interested in meeting other people. I find everyone very friendly.

Then, of course, there’s the weather — other than July, August and September.

To me it’s a beautiful place to live.