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Our History

Ask The Experts

Celebrating Over 90 Years!

oldTimePhotosWe owe our longevity to the wonderful and talented horticulturists who have managed our business throughout most of the 20th century, as well as our loyal and new customers who keep us going strong into the 21st!
Discover our unique story here.

In 1928, Forrest H. Sargent purchased the bankrupt Burnside Nursery and renamed it Red Wing Nursery, Forrest H. Sargent & Sons. During the ’30s the nature of the business was to sell bare root shrubs and trees in the spring. They grew and sold fruits and vegetables in the summer and fall. In 1940 the name was changed to Red Wing Nursery. Forrest H. Sargent died in 1942 and until 1948 the nursery was owned and operated by Ed Sunquist of Lake City, Minnesota. After the war, Forrest’s son Max returned and purchased the nursery from the Sunquists, who were in poor health.




max-carolMax Sargent and his wife Carol successfully ran the business from 1948 – 1987. During his tenure the business added a landscape design & installation department, expanded the retail store and our first retail greenhouse was erected. Carol managed the bookkeeping aspects of the business. Both were well known throughout the Red Wing community as outstanding business owners and kind people. Max passed away in 1987 and Carol in 1995. They are both greatly respected and missed!

In 1973, Max’s daughter Marge and her husband Bob Lewis joined the business and in 1984, and his daughter Julie and her husband Lloyd Peterson became active participants. This team of four created a strong company that continued to grow. Julie and Lloyd managed the landscape design and installation department. Bob Lewis managed the annual production process and Marge Lewis did the bookkeeping.

" Traditional nurserymen thought tree spades were not acceptable and did a poor job, but Dad would have embraced them as a solution to efficiency and sore back problems which plagued all nurserymen. He always said nurserymen had to be short so they could more easily get in the hole to dig a tree!"

Forrest Sargent

In 1998 Marge and Bob’s son, David Lewis, became an official member of the ownership team and began his career as Garden Center Manager. He had worked at Sargent’s for most of his life prior to college and pursued a horticulture degree at the University of Minnesota, so he was a natural fit for the role.

Lloyd and Julie’s daughter, Anne Matzek, decided to make horticulture her career in 2002. With a background in multimedia design and a childhood of job-shadowing her parents in design, installation and garden care, Anne found her place as a Landscape Designer at Sargent’s. Cousins Anne and Dave now serve the business as fourth generation Sargent’s and their respective children can often be seen shadowing and helping out!

In 2015 Dave Lewis became the majority owner with Bob and Marge staying in place as minority owners.  Julie Peterson and Anne Matzek Co-Direct the landscape department, and Dave’s wife Nikki does all of the accounting! Over the past 90 years there have been an incredible team of employees. Many thanks to that team for providing the customer support that has brought Sargent’s to it’s 90th year in business!

After 90 years we certainly enjoy reminiscing the years past. If you have any stories to share please contact us! We’re excited to hear from you.


"Carol Sargent once paid me a penny per weed pulled when I was a child. Who knew that I’d grow up to weed client’s gardens professionally from age 14-20. "

Anne Matzek, Grand-daughter of Carol Sargent


" In the 38 years that we have lived here, we have always enjoyed shopping at Sargent’s…staff has always been helpful with whatever gardening challenges/opportunities I’ve asked about. Every Sargent’s gift certificate my family has given me (and there’s been quite a few) I’ve enjoyed spending."

Emy Burt, Customer