Surroundings Sells Property— But Stays

The Hill Gardener

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garSurroundings at 11th and East Capitol has been sold to Wine and Butter. The good news is that it will remain a landscaping company on Capitol Hill operating from a warehouse.

Two of Capitol Hill’s favorite businesses have reached an agreement that is a win-win for the neighborhood.

Charles Hudman of Surroundings Floral and Landscaping has announced the sale of his property at the corner of East Capitol and 11th Street SE to Attila Suzer and Lisa Friedman, co-owners of Wine & Butter.

Some feared that the sale would result in Surroundings no longer operating from the premises. But the owners of the two businesses have reached an agreement that will allow both of these very popular businesses to continue operating from their location across from Lincoln Park.

The new arrangement will make the floral courtyard accessible to Wine & Butter patrons with a few tables and chairs and a new fountain that will be designed so you can sit and enjoy your lunch and a drink as you stroll through the flowers.

It’s wonderful to see the two businesses cooperating in a way that really works for the neighborhood and allows Surroundings to continue serving customers from their long-time location.

The corner of 9th and East Capitol is one of Surroundings projects and features a working water foundation brought by the owner from Italy. Photo courtesy of Surroundings

Surroundings’ History
Charles Hudman and John Kukendall, co-owner and consultant, first started on Capitol Hill in a basement business in 2006 at 328 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.  Charles started his floral business in Georgetown and the new location made it easier to service Capitol clients.  The shop was very small and their interest in expanding into landscaping was growing.  Charles says the name was plucked from a Thesaurus, but so captured what the company wanted to offer residents.  “We want to make your outdoor space as inviting and beautiful as your indoor space,” he says.  “You can think of it as a way to surround yourself in beauty.” In 2008 Surroundings moved to its current location.

Charles has spent his entire life working in the garden and floral industry and brings decades of knowledge of both plants and design to his clients’ projects.  Nothing is cookie cutter with the work performed by the six to ten employees of Surroundings.

When the pandemic started in 2020, suddenly the floral business came to an abrupt stop.  The Capitol was no longer hosting their weekly conferences and all the larger social events were cancelled. But with homeowners sent home to work, there was suddenly increased interest in expanding outdoor spaces and investing in landscaping.

2. Charles Hudman and John Kukendall are co-owners of Surroundings along with Francisco Sorto. They have decades of knowledge of what works for Capitol Hill yards, saving homeowners many headaches.

Surroundings: 2022 Version
Charles is thrilled to be continuing his business at the 11th Street location along with Francisco Sorto, a third owner of Surroundings. “Francisco has been a member of the Surroundings team for over 20 years and is integral to carrying out my designs, providing homes with great new decks, patios, and gardens.”

“The corner of 11th Street and East Capitol was really a mess when we purchased the property in 2008,” says John.  The transformation of the corner has become one of Surroundings best testimonials for what homeowners can do to increase their living spaces.  The corner now has a lovely large foundation and front patio.  Having Surroundings as part of the corner business guarantees that the European-styled coffee shop, Wine & Butter, will always have beautiful flowers and patio seating. It also means that Charles will still be able to provide floral arrangements for Hill residents, whether you want a bouquet to carry home or are planning a wedding.

Landscaping at Your Service
The pandemic, looking like it is sticking around a while longer, has made Hill residents value every inch of space on their property.  Many residents have not been able to travel to weekend getaways. Families with smaller children who are unable to be vaccinated are desperate to use their yards for their kids’ outdoor activities.  Taking the weed-covered back or front yard and turning it into enjoyable family space is essential for everyone.

Charles notes that Surroundings has the experience of dealing with some of the common problems that occur on Capitol Hill when tackling outdoor projects.  For instance, water issues often need to be addressed. Sometimes it is too much water seeping into the foundation and, at other times, it is a lack of water where irrigation is needed to keep things green and growing.

Capitol Hill soil can be a hurdle in improving your outdoor space.

Surroundings always starts by cleaning out the existing soil, digging out one to two inches and replacing it with new organic soil.  “Getting rid of the clay soil, and sometimes years of over-mulching the only way to make sure the new plants can thrive,” says Charles. Surroundings also believes that gardens should be beautiful year-round, and he help homeowners choose the right balance between flowers and evergreen trees and shrubs that will look great even in winter.

Without weather delays, Surroundings can transform a 15-foot by 15-foot outdoor space in nine to ten business days.  The myths that you can only plant in spring and fall are just that.  “We can work anytime except when the ground is frozen, and with the warming weather here, that is year-round,” Charles notes.

The list of landscaping services is a long one including creating grill or pizza ovens, patios, decks, pergolas, grassy areas for children to play, retaining walls and fences, roof top gardens, and creating award winning flower gardens.  As important as creating the outdoor spaces is the task of finding competent people to help maintain them, if you aren’t the gardening type.  Surroundings will do that for you, either as an emergency cleanup or with an annual contract.

So, thankfully, Surroundings is here to stay and Wine & Butter as new property owners will be expanding their services making the Lincoln Park corner even more neighborhood friendly.  It’s great news as we begin the new year.

Rindy O’Brien is delighted that Surroundings will continue to be a Capitol Hill Garden resource. She can be contacted at [email protected]