Lush Life
Binkley Horticulture perks up spaces, and café business, for Brew HaHa!
by Leigh Stuart

Alisa Morkides, who owns 10 Brew HaHa! espresso cafés, had a distinct vision for her newest location in Trolley Square, Wilmington, Del.: create a unique space that represents the surrounding area.

Binkley Horticulture owner Erica Boston helped Morkides achieve this, by creating and installing indoor and outdoor plantings and landscaping that reflect the surrounding bucolic Brandywine Valley, with design elements such as wood, art and stone.

With her desire to capture the essence of the Brandywine Valley, Morkides wanted the new plant life to create a natural vibe with reclaimed wood and pots that feel organic to the café space.

“I love gardens, and so do my customers,” Morkides says. “The outside to me is almost as important as the inside when it comes to inviting people into a space, and I wanted something really memorable. … I didn’t know if it would make a difference, but I feel like it’s one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in the past 22 years in business, working with Binkley Horticulture.”

Both Morkides and Boston agree that the outdoor space is now an inviting destination all its own. “We created a nice, warm atmosphere,” Boston says. “It’s sort of an outdoor room.”

Morkides, whose desire to create a lush atmosphere at her café came from her own natural love of gardens, says customer reaction to the greenery at her café has been “unbelievable.”

“The customer reaction to the space, inside and out, has been very gratifying to see,” Morkides says. “They’re very, very happy with it.”

Boston, a 2002 graduate of the renowned two-year Professional Gardener Program offered by Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, has made it Binkley Horticulture’s core mission to ensure that her landscape installations, big and small, commercial and residential, match her clients’ creative visions as well as their professional or recreational needs.

During the course of her interior and exterior landscaping at Brew HaHa!, Boston also took care to match Morkides’ “eclectic country” style, while also ensuring that café customers can move easily and pleasantly within the new natural environments.

“Brew HaHa! has a very distinct organic style,” Boston says, “so [the garden design] was to integrate with the interior design style that Morkides has already successfully installed, and extend it outdoors.”

To Morkides’ delight, Boston started their project together by training flowering wisteria up and along the café’s pergola on DuPont Street. In all, Boston installed a medley of tropical plants, perennials and evergreens in and around the café’s patio courtyard, adding hollowed-out tree trunks as planters and benches and other such touches that give the garden space its earthy and natural feel.

Boston’s success at Brew HaHa! is no surprise considering her horticultural pedigree. Her studies at Longwood covered a vast range of topics, including research, nursery management, plant identification, pest management and arboriculture. In the nearly 10 years she has been successfully running Binkley Horticulture, she has created and tended gardens of all sizes, both residential and commercial. This includes everything from front-porch container plantings and urns to landscaping for palatial country estates, from technical and corrective pruning to detailed property maintenance, from winter clean-up projects to spring and summer plantings.

“There’s no secret to Binkley Horticulture’s success,” says Boston. “We take the time to find out what our clients want and need, and then we apply our experience and deliver exactly that. Every property and every homeowner is completely different. There’s no cookie-cutter formula.

“Of course, I make it my personal mission to exceed customers’ expectations of us, no matter how big or small the job.”

Even the smallest gardens require the help of a seasoned horticulturalist in order to blossom to their fullest. Boston explains that small container gardens such as those at Brew HaHa! require their share of forethought and maintenance. When building a miniature ecosystem such as a container garden, a number of factors—compatibility of plants, their soils and their watering needs—must be factored in to create a successful environment in which all the plants can thrive.

She adds that her company also takes the time to consider the “big picture.” Whereas some horticulturalists will plan for just a season ahead, Binkley and her associates think long term.

“I make it a point to take a step back and really listen to what each client wants, not just for today but for what they want a year, two years or 10 years from now,” Boston says. “I definitely take a look at the future and how what we plant is going to affect the landscape and the client.”

Boston, who grew up tending plants on her family’s farm in West Virginia, is presently director of the Delaware Grounds Management Association, leading the organization in its mission of providing the horticultural community, including small business owners and suppliers, with “knowledge and networking” opportunities. She is also a member of organizations including the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association and Longwood’s Professional Gardener Alumni Association.

Boston also exemplifies her commitment to honing her craft by attending continuing education opportunities, including classes and symposiums at Longwood Gardens, as well as other institutions such as the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens.

This experience, along with dedication to and passion for her career, helps her better serve her clients.

“I was looking for a landscaper who saw the vision of what I was trying to accomplish, and I’m really glad I called Erica because she really did see,” Morkides says. “She’s an amazing gardener.”

To find out more about the services provided by Binkley Horticulture Services, Inc., call 484-459-2391 or visit

Photograph by Alison Dunlap