Green Boutique

March 2020 View more

By Annemarie Mannion

If you’re like throngs of others who don’t think they have a green thumb, there is hope for those who wish to add the beauty of plants to their homes but have trouble with the upkeep: the watering, pruning, and potting.

There’s help for finding all things green at Branch Gardens in Aurora (77 S. Lake St., 630.303.1042, The store is operated by Wheaton natives Kori Kasper and her husband, Bryan, who have the know-how to help others create environments where plants will thrive. We talked with Kori about what makes the business unique.

How do you describe your store?

I like to call it a garden boutique. We carry plants, apothecary and self-healing products, and home decor. We also have textiles—pillows, blankets, and rugs—as well as baskets.

Before opening the store what was your professional background?

After attending Wheaton-Warrenville South High School, my husband got his degree in horticulture, and I worked as a nanny. I also studied fashion design, and always knew I wanted to do something creative. One day I decided out of the blue that I was going to start a garden boutique with a twist. I call myself a plant designer. We show people where to place plants in their homes.

How do you help customers find the right plants for them?

The first thing I ask them is to describe the location where it’s going. What kind of window light is in that location? Is it near a heat vent? Or is it an area with a lot of moisture? Sometimes people bring in pictures of their space. Then I can point them to their options.

How do you direct them to plants that will look good in the space?

We look at the size; there are certain plants that will fit a space better than others. There are plants that grow more vertically, and others that are bushy, and ones that have vines.

How do you help novices increase their plant-caring skills?

For most people, the reason plants die is from overwatering. I point customers to plants that I know they’ll have good luck with, that are very hardy, and that I know will help them build their confidence. We tag the plants with easy care instructions. My husband knows all about plants in depth. I know he can back me up if there is something I don’t know. He’s just a phone call away and he can answer any questions I have.

What plants are popular right now?

One that a lot of people are asking for right now is the variegated Monstera Deliciosa. It’s the plant that everyone wants—they’ve seen it on Instagram. Plant influencers set trends.

Who’s your target customer?

Our main group is people age 18 to 35. They are buying homes or renting apartments, and they want to make their apartments feel warm and cozy and fill them with plants, which are affordable. People are also very aware of the health benefits of plants. They cleanse the air, and people want to bring that into their homes.

What are the prices for your plants?

They run from $3 into the hundreds of dollars. I tell people, “Don’t feel bad if you buy a plant for between $10 and $20, and it dies, unless you’re trying to kill it.” You’re going to have that plant for a least a week or two. It will definitely have more longevity than buying a bouquet or vase of flowers that you’d also spend $10 or $20 on.

Our plants are all onsite, but if someone wants something in particular, I do orders once a week. Once May hits, we’ll have all the annuals, perennials, and trees—you name it.

Why does your store carry apothecary and healing products?

I think it’s important to let people know they can help heal their bodies with natural products. Most of ours are prepackaged, but some are open so customers can make a tincture or tea to help them with a particular problem, like anxiety or sleep. We also host herbology classes once or twice a month.

You recently renovated your store. What does it look like now?

The walls are olive green—we’re going for a moody, modern feel. It’s kind of dark and mysterious, but it has beauty to it and it’s very welcoming. We want people to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves when they’re here.

Photos Courtesy Branch Gardens