The phrase, ‘Grow where you are planted’ is frequently used to encourage others to be all that they were created to be, to do what’s right, even when it’s hard, or to make the best of what you have when life throw lemons at you. Wise advice indeed, and easier said than done. But, by embodying this mindset, Jennifer has grown her roots and wings throughout her career spanning almost 2 decades at Weston Nurseries. Her compassionate heart and strong spirit are reflected through her work and set the example that we strive for. We are honored that she has stuck by us all this time and are excited about her bright future with our company.
Free-spirited and fresh out of high school, a career was the last thing on Jennifer’s mind. She was focused on exploring and finding herself. After traveling cross country for 6 months, she returned to her hometown of Milford, Massachusetts in need of a job and some home cooked Italian food. At that time, her mom had been working at Weston Nurseries for 6 years and it had become a comfortable home away from home, so she decided to accept the invitation to work with her in the Wreath Room, creating and designing wreaths made from Hopkinton-grown evergreens for the Holiday Season. With Spring approaching, Jennifer was offered the “Perennial Stock Girl” role, which she accepted with an open mind, but without expectation. Like many young adults, it was simply a way to pay the bills while she figured out her next move.
Back then, we grew many of our plants at Weston, and she knew next to nothing about them, but that didn’t stop her from accepting the role. With a list of plants handwritten on scrap paper in their Latin botanical names, she would head into “The Meadow”, a vast field of containerized perennials grown for retail, to gather and transport them back to the sales yard. “It was early Spring, so many of the plants didn’t even have leaves! “I don’t know how I did it”, says Jennifer, as she fondly recalls the memory of having to prop herself up on bags of soil so that she could see over the wheel of the 1960’s flatbed truck. “That’s when I fell in love with the farm”.
Jennifer credits these experiences for inspiring and encouraging her decision to pursue her degree in Horticulture from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst, where she studied the management of woody plants, and learned all aspects of horticulture through her internship at Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm on Nantucket. She credits her Entomology professor, the late Robert “Bobby Bugs” Childs, for her love of bugs, stating, “his passion was infectious, and I learned to love the practice of scouting and diagnosing plants with insects or pest problems.”
Shortly thereafter, she went on to earn her Massachusetts Horticulturist Certification (MCH), and returned to Weston, working with sales and installations of trees, shrubs, and perennials for several years.
In pursuit of new experiences and opportunities, Jennifer accepted a nursery manager role at Mahoney’s Garden Center in Cape Cod, where she worked alongside Kristen Casey who taught her the value of bringing positive energy to your team and smiling through pressure. With these new skills, she was able to advance to the General Manager position, building her confidence as a leader.
When the Greenhouse Manager position became available at Weston, she returned to her roots, establishing her career, and growing her family. She recalls the challenges and struggles of commuting from the Cape to Hopkinton for 5 years, during which time she married her husband Danny and had her first child. “Moving back home to be near family was the best decision I ever made”.
After nearly a decade of helping Weston expand their greenhouse operations, buying herbs, vegetables, and tropical houseplants, she was promoted to Assistant Garden Center Manager in Spring of 2023, and Garden Center Manager shortly thereafter in the Fall as her mom celebrated her 30th anniversary at Weston. When asked what it’s like to work with your mom, she says, “When you’re younger, you don’t know how cool and special it is to have the chance to work with you mom every day. We have had a lot of good times here and created a lot of great memories. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here. It’s hard to believe that now I’m her boss!” If you stop by the Wreath Room, you’ll find Jennifer and her mom having fun together, creating custom wreaths and designs again this holiday season.
Jennifer lives in Hopedale, Massachusetts with her husband Danny, their boys Antonio (7), Enzo (5) and dog Bruce (she’s a huge Springsteen fan!) “Managing a Garden Center while also managing a home of 4 boys can be challenging at times, but I’ve come to realize my true purpose in my new role is what brings me the most joy and satisfaction in life – helping people rise and shine. We have an amazing staff of passionate, dedicated people and I am honored to have the opportunity to influence their growth and progression. We at Weston bring joy to a lot of people and make a difference in such a unique way. My wish is that people continue to leave here feeling good about their day and feeling good about themselves.”
In addition to her mom, Jennifer would like to express her sincere gratitude to the late John Moretti and Tim Kiley, as well as Lee Thomas, Rose Crettien and Henry Schmidt for mentoring and inspiring her to pursue her career in Horticulture and to Weston Nurseries for these wonderful opportunities.
“I am pleased to announce that Jennifer Rolo has been promoted to manager of our Hopkinton Garden center. Over her 17-year career at Weston, she has been in lead roles within various departments and has developed the knowledge for all aspects of running a large-sized garden center. She is also familiar with all our internal processes and our way of doing things within the company. I know she is excited to lead as a team player, develop the skills of those she oversees, and participate with the planning and strategizing needed to continue providing a great experience for our customers.”Peter Mezitt, President of Weston Nurseries
Here is a segment from “This Old House” with Jennifer showing landscape designer Jenn Nawada how to care for houseplants.
For more from This Old House, please click here!