Our "roots" go clear back to 1896 when Missoula was a thirty year old community with a fledgling university, a lumber industry and developing downtown. It was already nicknamed the "Garden City" and agriculture including apple production was a major part of the economy. The Missoula Nursery was established at this time on third street in the "Orchard Homes" area west of town. It is the same spot where Caras Nursery and Landscape operates today.
The Missoula Nursery operated until 1920 when James K. Caras, a Greek immigrant who had landed here in 1908 while building track for the Northern Pacific Railway, purchased it out of foreclosure. He was able to integrate it into his existing downtown business, Garden City Floral. Initially it was mainly a spring market in which most of the trees, shrubs and flowers were produced on site. In time, the greenhouses were expanded to cover several acres and wholesale was added to the "market".
Following World War II, James K.'s sons came into the business which they jointly operated with George running to floral shop and James S. the nursery. This arrangement continued successfully until the late sixties when the brothers decided to split up. George took the flower shop and the name and James S. named the nursery "Caras". Some new structures were put up and landscaping grew into a major portion of the business.
In 1977, a third generation of the Caras family, James S.'s son (and present owner) Bill, came on board. The intervening years have seen a tremendous amount of building, land improvements and sales volume. Today, a modern, beautiful facility and a sophisticated landscape design/build contracting arm characterize the company. In the eighties a Christmas store was seasonally added and a Wild Birds Unlimited "store within a store" was added in the nineties. Aside from expansion and regular rebuilds, lots of fun and interesting things have come and gone over the years including an outdoor railway garden, alpacas and an annual outdoor sculpture show (still going on).
More than all this though, Caras Nursery and Landscape is part of the fabric of Missoula. For some, a visit to "Caras" is an annual tradition for both the spring and Christmas seasons. Many events and educational sessions occur each year at the nursery.
The nursery and Bill Caras (some people believe they are one and the same) are both heavily involved in the community as part of the family tradition of giving back to a community that has supported the business for over 100 years. The Missoula City Council honored James K. Caras (and really all immigrants) who helped build and contributed character to Missoula by naming the main downtown park "Caras Park".
Missoula and Caras Nursery and Landscape have had a wonderful partnership for over 100 years. We are working continually to ensure that the next 100 years are just as fruitious.