Front gate at Squire House

30 years in business in Afton, Minnesota
About the owners Martin Stern and Richard Meacock

Martin Stern landscape design and nursery plants
"Looking back, I am amazed at how quickly the years have passed. Things are changing with a new generation of customers and I continue to look forward to trying innovative plants and ideas."
–Martin Stern June 2020

The plan for Squire House Gardens was born during travels to England back in the 1980s, inspired by the enticing small shops visited throughout Britain. After renovating the house and grounds of their historic Afton property, Martin Stern and Richard Meacock opened the doors to the business that became Squire House Gardens in May 1991. Decades later, the gift shop, plant nursery and gardens truly became a destination. Squire House offered landscape design services and horticultural advice as well as hosting events throughout the years. After Richard's death in 2019, Martin made the decision in 2021 to close the business and retire after 30 years in their Afton, Minnesota location.

Owner Martin Stern nurtured a life-long interest in nature and gardening. Including living in southern England in 1987 where he studied with world-renowned garden designer and writer John Brookes.

Since that time Martin has designed gardens big and small throughout the upper midwest and northeast. He sought simplicity of intention, architectural interest and diverse multi-seasonal planting schemes in his work. Each garden had a separate and distinct personality. The gardens at Squire House illustrated his design philosophy and were enjoyed by the public in all the seasons.

In addition to gardening talents, Martin ran the retail shop and traveled the United States every year to find unique items to sell in his store -- New York, Chicago and Atlanta. He had long standing relationships with many vendors and sought to find fair trade products and artisan made items for his shop.

Martin enjoyed garden writing and creating visual presentations on a variety of topics of horticulture, as well as gardens he has enjoyed in his travels. He conducted popular winter presentations for the public at Squire House Gardens. Additionally, he was a speaker and presenter for horticultural groups throughout the area. Martin Stern retired from his business August, 2021

Richard Meacock, Squire House GardensOwner Richard Meacock passed away in September, 2019.
Richard's work, his spirit and his many influences are alive at Squire House.

Richard was the design force behind many creative endeavors including the design of the gardens, the hedges and the patio Koi pool. He created large beautiful container plantings each spring that are featured on the premises. He built the arbors, pergolas and clematis towers that are a hallmark of the gardens. Richard was born in England and came to the US to teach. His British influence is apparent in the formality of the gardens at Squire House.

Richard was an talented artist and supporter of the arts. His paintings were featured in art shows he helped assemble over the years, showing the work of many fine regional artists. Every year, the Spring Art Show continues with a different theme and selection.

He loved to decorate for the holidays and created a different holiday room and ornament arbor each year that the customers looked forward to, with elaborate draping on the windows, hundreds of lights and elegant decor.

The highlight of his Squire House activities was the annual Valentine's Concert. He and Martin Stern created over 25 concerts with musicians from the Twin City area -- from opera, to American Songbook Classics, to Latin Jazz -- the Squire House Valentine's Concert was a one-of-a-kind event with musical performance interspersed with readings and poetry about love and romance, performed by Richard and his actor friends.

Richard was a former educator, retired from his teaching career at Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul. He is lovingly remembered by students, parents and staff as a teacher that made a difference in many lives.

We missed Richard greatly and the traditions he created -- In the Squire House Style!

Garden pool with koi at Squire House

Garden pool at Squire House