John Hoffman’s focus on ornamental grasses began more than 30 years ago. After training in horticulture, he started a landscaping business using standard plants in the trade. Inspired by innovative designers and generous mentors like J.C. Raulston, he began incorporating grasses into his designs. He soon realized that supplying grasses offered more opportunities. In 1986 John and his wife Jill started Hoffman Nursery, Inc. to grow grasses full time. Known in the industry as the “grass guy,” he has helped build a thriving market for his favorite plants. The nursery now supplies liners of over 140 varieties of grasses to the wholesale trade across the U.S. and Canada.
While grasses are his plant passion, John’s social connections are at the heart of his personal and professional life. As he notes, “People in the industry make it all worth it. It’s an amazing group—people are open, they tell you about their experiences, they answer questions. I don’t know any other industry that’s like it.” For John, customers and acquaintances often turn into collaborators and even life-long friends.
John’s affinity for collaboration has given him many opportunities to serve the industry. He is past president of the Perennial Plant Association and has served on the boards of several horticultural organizations. He makes a point of spending time with students and getting to know their interests and aspirations. For the past several years, he’s attended the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, and the nursery has sponsored the Annual & Perennial Plant Identification event. John regularly hosts student groups at the nursery, encouraging them and sharing stories about the industry he loves.
As the horticultural industry evolves, John looks ahead for novel approaches and creative ways to adapt. He seeks out collaborations and enjoys working on solutions as a team. He is also quick to credit others for the successes. His generosity and genuine love for the industry and what he does shine through.