Kent Petterson fondly tells how he turned a side hustle of selling gardening books from his home into being known as having one of the largest selections of gardening books in the U.S. “It started in the garden,” he chuckles.
Thirty years later, the wood floors of the 1804 gingerbread-like brick home that houses Terrace Horticultural Books in the West End neighborhood of St. Paul groan under the weight of some 25,000 volumes. It’s a rabbit’s warren of rooms—a maze of shelves chockablock with books—new and old, hard to find, and out of print alongside vintage seed catalogs, periodicals, and garden-related ephemera. It’s paradise for green-fingered souls searching out all manner of plant-related knowledge. Petterson caters to that customer who wants to dig deeper and still “likes to hold a book in their hands.”
And there was that time Martha Stewart popped in. Following a book signing downtown, she was tipped off to this hidden treasure and bought an armload of books on topics as varied as heirloom plums and turn-of-the-century women gardeners.
It’s only natural that Petterson tends the abundant gardens surrounding the bookstore. He may sell old tomes, but his garden design is forward thinking: He’s turned the entire landscape pollinator-friendly thanks to a grant from Lawns to Legumes.
The burgeoning interest in gardening during COVID, combined with online sales, helped Petterson weather the pandemic without a problem. 503 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-5536, terracehorticulturalbooks.com