Gardenheir Delights With Garden Goodies in Windham

Cultivating a cool new kind of garden store, Gardenheir puts down roots in Windham.

Among the busiest shops in Windham is one that has absolutely nothing to do with the town’s claim to fame, skiing. It’s Gardenheir, a magnet for anyone who gardens or loves the trappings of this pursuit.

Tucked into a nondescript shopping center, the sunny store (which opened in November 2022) vibrates with activity. On one recent weekend, outgoing orders were en route to the West Village, Palm Beach, and the West Coast. One customer discussed the success of her most recent bulb-forcing efforts with a staffer, while other visitors sniffed the imported-from-Korea hand cream samples, tried on the Le Laboureur denim work jackets, and compared the various, museum-worthy spades and weeders. Often (very often), it’s the signature Gardenheir clogs that are being sought. These funky, Italian-made waterproof shoes with cork insoles have become must-haves for Hudson Valley gardeners and fashionable Brooklynites alike.

Not since the heyday of Martha Stewart showing off well-tended roses, it seems, has gardening had such a moment. The couple behind Gardenheir, Alan Calpe and Christopher Crawford, dreamed up the enterprise just before the dark days of the pandemic, which had put the brakes on Calpe’s career as an art educator and Crawford’s as well (he ran a showroom representing designers).

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Gardenheir

A quick rewind: The two both grew up in Florida and met in college there and then reconnected in New York City as they pursued creative careers. Aside from a little dabbling in houseplants and balcony plantings, gardening only entered their lives when they bought a weekend place in Windham in 2016. Though neither skied, they found a sweet shingled 1940s fixer-upper cottage. After clearing the property to take in mountain views and make a pond, they began nursing the land back to its previous verdant state. Little by little, they became full-fledged gardeners. Obsessed gardeners, in fact, who were spending more and more time upstate.

Gardenheir offers a curated collection of things for the home, inside and out: various types of apparel, Italian clogs (including bright blue ones), and tools such as spades, trowels, rakes, and push hoes.
Gardenheir offers a curated collection of things for the home, inside and out: various types of apparel, Italian clogs (including bright blue ones), and tools such as spades, trowels, rakes, and push hoes.

In September 2021, as their previous work languished, they took a leap and launched a website of favorite gardening items—encouraged by a dear friend who dared them to dream of something wonderful and then just do it. “The idea evolved slowly,” recalls Calpe. “We had a Google Doc that was part mood board, part to-do list. We spent time talking about how difficult it was to find the tools we needed, and how what was out there didn’t exactly speak to our sensibilities.”

They put up a little landing page online that said, “Coming Soon” with their version of a mission statement, sent an email to about 100 of their friends with a link… and hoped for the best. “The best” sums up the outcome. The site gained traction, with the clogs being a universal hit. “We did not expect it at all,” explains Calpe, “and the garden smocks became another surprise staple, popular with gardeners and fashion folks alike.”

Soon, collaborations with revered brands unfurled. For Haws—a 130-plus-year-old English gardening company—Calpe and Crawford reimagined classic watering cans in olive green. With Sneeboer, a Dutch garden-tool maker for over a century, they created a collection of sustainably sourced, ash-handled tools, such as spades and rakes. “Both launched and sold out almost immediately,” mentions Calpe. “It gave us real confidence that these could become part of our ongoing collections.”

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home goods

The mix of design sophistication and fashion sense that the two bring to their wares struck a chord. Real-world retail soon came knocking: The duo was approached in early 2022 by one of the execs at Wildflower Farms, a luxe resort in nearby Gardiner, to collaborate, and a shop debuted there.

As demand continued to grow, the couple rented a space for warehousing and fulfillment in Windham and decided to dedicate part of it to showcasing their wares. “It’s probably a bit of a head-scratcher to have a garden-inspired shop in a ski town, but we really love that; it’s a little discovery,” says Crawford. (Judging from the amount of foot traffic the store can see, perhaps it’s outgrown the “little” label.)

garden tools

Plus, they take real joy in the interactions that occur, as shop visitors feel the weight of a transplanting trowel in their hand or try to decide which color clog to buy. The eclectic mix of items (which includes fragrances and foraged antiques) pulls in a certain kind of curious, creative client. “We’ve met so many great people—ones we would’ve never guessed lived nearby, ones who have become real friends,” says Calpe. “We joke that Gardenheir brings out all the others hiding in the woods who are like us.”

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