Hannah Petersen Bluemel
ROLE: As Chairperson and CEO now, I continue in my role to fuel and guide the energy, artistry, care, commitment, pursuit of knowledge, growth and community that we so passionately and steadfastly fostered together over the past four decades.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME: In or overlooking our gardens and nurseries at our main campus in Baldwin, Maryland.
FAVORITES: My favorite plants are by each season. I love the seasons. I am intensely fond of Panicum virgatum ‘Kurt Bluemel’ and M. sinsensis ‘Morning Light’ penned by Kurt and accepted by all as a much improved horticulture name (M. sinensis ‘Gracilliumus,’ botanically known as ‘Gracillimus Variegatus’). The ‘Morning Light’ vertical ribbons of white that run along the slender leaf edges and its ruddy flowers that age to a tannish glow is why this is a very popular cultivar to all and dear to my heart being renamed so artfully by my husband.
INSPIRATION: When the beauty of form meets the practicality of function the result is a gift that keeps on giving.
MANTRA: “A well-tended garden is both a daily physical chore and a spiritual joy to behold.”
Catherine Bluemel Betz
ROLE: Head of the Eastern Shore, Westover, Maryland growing division for the past 10 years. I have been full time with KBI since 1982 when I started from the ground up with no outside training and all hands on experience. I had a great and world-class mentor in my father.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME: At Somerset Farms and Nurseries on the Eastern Shore and at Cathy@kurtbluemel.com
FAVORITES: I have no particular favorite plant. One day I might like a plant because it is so colorful or how its seed heads glisten in the morning dew. These are my "Plants of the Day."
INSPIRATION: I always looked forward to hearing about and seeing pictures of my father’s frequent plant safaris and travels. I am also inspired by our nurseries, the fruits of our labor and working alongside my three sons, Alexander, Christopher and Patrick.
MY MANTRA: "Nature is my medicine."
ROLE: Starting at KBI 26 years ago in the fields, I fell in love with the product and the people. Working side-by-side with Kurt as we grew the company beyond my expectations, I now serve as the head of sales (selling and buying) and customer service.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME: In the KBI main campus office in Baldwin, MD by the entrance pond “upstairs” and at email@example.com
FAVORITES: Miscanthus s. ‘Morning Light’, Bouteloua gracilis, Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Papageno', Coreopsis vert. ‘Moonbeam’, Adiantum pedatum, Ajania pacifica 'Gold and Silver', Andropogon virginicus & plenty more. Just call & ask me.
INSPIRATION: Mr. Bluemel on this planet and now his enduring spirit and all those around me who share the same inspiration.
MANTRA: "I can get you those plants!!!!!"
Alex Bluemel Betz, CPH
ROLE: Each day I head up our nursery operations as the general manager and grower. I grew up on this nursery and it is as much a part of me as I am of it. I had the distinct pleasure to work with my grandfather for more than a decade in landscaping, growing, and relationship building (with soil and people)!
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME: If you cannot find me, there is a problem. More often than not, it’s in the KBI office at staff meetings, in the greenhouses or fields, at trade meetings and horticulture events and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAVORITES: I really have a lot of favorites, people ask me all the time. To pick my top favorites is difficult. To name a few- Sporobolus heterolepis, Fargesia robusta, Kosteletzkya virginica, Spigelia marilandica.
INSPIRATION: My work, my colleagues and my wife and children.
MANTRA: "It's not invasive if you use it responsibly."
ROLE: Working for Mr. and Mrs. Bluemel and for KBI for 7 years, I have transitioned from being a traditional "bean counter" to an inspired "plant manager” as I head up our finance, accounting and business operations as well as being our chief go-to officer on business affairs.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME:The KBI office "Downstairs" and at email@example.com.
FAVORITES:Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ the Black-eyed Susan, and, Hibiscus x. ‘Lord Baltimore’ with the beautiful, big-as-a-dinner-plate blossoms.
INSPIRATION: Mr. Bluemel was an enormously talented human being, from his art, flying his plane, telling his tales, and too many others to name, but most notably he was a plantsman. He created and grew and planted the seeds of his business with his great common sense, and he built from the ground up, a successful business acumen that served our nursery well for 50 years. I truly admire him for all that he accomplished with his many talents. I look to him as my inspiration to continue to serve while learning new things. I believe his favorite part of his job was ‘teacher’.
MANTRA: "Work smarter, not harder."
Christopher Bluemel Betz
ROLE: For the past 14 years I have learned many skills to properly attend to the end-to-end business of our wholesale nursery and operations. I oversee facilities, transportation, production, support and my newest role, marketing, which I view as a great outlet to share what I get to see daily in all its beauty and timeliness of ready product.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME: In the fields and greenhouses, on the road with plants, and in the office of our Main Campus here in Baldwin, Maryland and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAVORITES: Like many of us at KBI, it is hard to list just a few favorites as each day, week and month, a different plant shows its glory.
INSPIRATION: Being witness to growth. Fixing things and solving problems.
MANTRA: "Anything is possible you just have to be smarter than the soil."
Nan-Kirsten Forte, MS
ROLE: Some 30 plus years ago, my stepfather, Kurt Bluemel, asked me to add catalogue creation and wholesale marketing to my secondary education. Together along with my mother Hannah, we created the very first video catalogue of ornamental grasses along with the print catalog. My brother Kurt Erik Weinstock helped to launch the seed and starter plants division of KBI and continues to school me on the business. Today I marvel in seeing those same once unknown grasses, sedges, rushes and bamboos along the drive from my Hudson River home to the KBI main campus each month.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME: Sleepy Hollow, NY when not traveling and https://www.linkedin.com/in/nankirstenforte
FAVORITES: Coreopsis auriculata 'Nana', Imperata 'Red Baron' Japanese Blood Grass, Phyllostachys nigra Black Bamboo, Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' Zebra Grass.
INSPIRATION: The arbor that Kurt built on the edge of the pond, preferably with the big bonfire blazing and laughter filling the air. Most preferably with Kurt there but I shall remain inspired by his unparalleled spirit and outrageously wonderful memories. Mom and I hope you like the new video and website Kurt – I think it is exactly what you asked for (aka demanded).
MANTRA: “People support what they help to create.”