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Making it in Big Sky: Wildwood Nursery

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San and Cindy, founders of Wildwood Nursery, during their first season in the business in 1981. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN GOVEIA


BIG SKY – Wildwood Nursery founders and friends San Goveia and Cindy MacDonald first came to Big Sky in 1978 to work a summer at the 320 Ranch. After deciding to stay, the two opened the nursery—at that time a modest lawn care company—in 1981. With the area, the nursery has grown into a full service landscaping company with a talented, 20-person crew making many of the lawns and yards in Big Sky beautiful.

Forty-two years later, Goveia is still passionate about horticulture and her family-run, team-oriented business. Explore Big Sky spoke with her for the latest Making it in Big Sky and even dug up an old photo of her first season on the job.

This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.

Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you come to Big Sky?

San Goveia: I came to Big Sky in 1978 with my dear girlfriend Cindy Drury (MacDonald is her married name now). We traveled together from Ohio to work and spend the summer in the Rocky Mountains. I lived and worked at the 320 Ranch my first summer here for Gale & Jim Walma. Patty Goodrich still was living on the Ranch.

EBS: Tell me about the history of Wildwood Nursery, when did it start? How has it grown over the years?

S.G.: In 1981 Cindy and I started Wildwood Landscaping (the first name of the company). We took care of a few lawns around the Big Sky area. There weren’t too many back then! Cindy went to Nursing School a year or two later. I continued to build the maintenance business and also began small landscaping jobs. My ex-husband joined in and we continued to steadily grow the business over the next 20 years. In 2007 I created Wildwood Nursery Inc (after my divorce) and built our Greenhouse and Nursery with my now husband, Rob Goveia. This was in 2008 when our economy was not in the greatest shape!

I would like to think that the mark of Wildwood Nursery on the Big Sky community has been a part of building what we all love here—natural beauty!

– San Goveia, Owner & Founder, Wildwood Nursery

EBS: How big is your team?

S.G.: Our team has operated with a 20-person crew—retail nursery and custom potting, landscape maintenance, and landscape design and installation. With the staffing challenges we are having in the Gallatin Valley we now are operating with a 12-person team.

San Goveia owns and operates Wildwood Nursery since opening it with her friend in 1981. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN GOVEIA

EBS: Tell me about the different services offered at the nursery?

S.G.: Our Nursery specializes in Custom Container Gardens. We have won half a dozen (or so) awards for these at our state’s Yearly Nursery Trade Shows. Our maintenance crews focus on healthy plants and turf along with exceptional curb appeal for our clients. Our landscape services specialize in designing and planting to re-establish the native setting that gets damaged when a new home is built.

EBS: On your website it says you use “organic, microbe-based products.” Can you tell us a little about what that means and why it’s important?

S.G.: We use live microbe-based fertilizers at our Nursery, on all of our accounts, and when planting our nursery stock. The microbes put life back into the soil around the root zone that enables the plants to uptake water and nutrients. Our success rate on all of our Nursery stock speaks for this.

EBS: What is the best part of working at Wildwood?

S.G.: Wildwood is a team company. This has started with my family—my husband Rob and our kids have all been a part of this company. Along with all of their help, their support over the years is immeasurable. After 42 years, I am still passionate about horticulture.

EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?

S.G.: While building Wildwood, I was advised to always invest into my company in ways that would build and prosper the business. I would like to think that the mark of Wildwood Nursery on the Big Sky community has been a part of building what we all love here—natural beauty!

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