DU Alumni / Magazine Feature / People

Alumna caters to urban gardeners

Diane Stahl (BA anthropology ’80) used to amuse her coworkers with her vacation plans. Instead of plane tickets and a passport, Stahl’s itinerary involved perennials and a spade. The backyard of her Washington Park home substituted for an exotic locale.

Now, as the owner of Urban Roots, Stahl no longer has to leave work to indulge in her passion for plants.

Urban Roots, located on the corner of 10th and Acoma in downtown Denver’s Golden Triangle, specializes in small-space urban gardening. Stahl’s decades of experience have taught her about the challenges that come with gardening in urban settings—including heat, wind, pollution, old sewer lines, deep tree roots and limited space—and how to overcome them.

“You don’t just buy a plant from Urban Roots,” says Melissa (Goldman) Turner (BA ’79, MBA ’83), a longtime friend and customer of Stahl’s. “Diane makes sure customers know how to care for the plant, that they have the right soil or plant food and that the customer is purchasing a plant that works best for the environment or their living situation.”

Urban Roots also offers on-site consultations and strives to ensure that landscaping designs complement the client’s home décor.

While Stahl has wanted to open a gardening store since college, the impetus for opening Urban Roots came during a vacation she took with her husband in 2000.

The couple visited Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, and while she was sitting on the famous arched bridge, something inside Stahl clicked.

“It was so peaceful and so (emotional) for me. It was kind of like when you’re falling in love,” Stahl says. “I just remember saying, ‘I want to be here. I want to work here…I want to learn.’”

Two years later, she left her corporate fundraising position and opened Urban Roots.

“I wasn’t interested so much in opening a business. I was more interested in assisting people to be successful urban gardeners,” Stahl says.

But the business, now in its eighth year, has thrived thanks to Stahl’s customer-centric approach.

“She is a woman I admire so much,” says local resident and customer Rhonda Knop. “She gets to live her passion.”

And, as she sits in a wicker patio chair, surrounded by an eclectic assortment of planters and plants, seeds and pots, it’s easy to see that Stahl finds her life of passion extremely fulfilling.

“Gardening is really spiritual. It grounds us in the earth and connects us with our heart. It really rounds us,” she says. “That’s why people love to dig in the dirt.”

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