Introducing Ernest Wertheim, Industry Pioneer

During Cultivate’17, AmericanHort had the pleasure to sit down with Ernest Wertheim, a passionate industry advocate and business owner for over 75 years.

Wertheim’s experiences, insights, and ability to see opportunities in this industry continue to set the bar for all horticulture professionals. We were fortunate to welcome Wertheim to another Cultivate and hear about his life and some of his accomplishments firsthand. 

Wertheim opened a landscape architect firm in 1940 and has been a mainstay in the industry ever since. That design firm, now known as Wertheim, van der Ploeg, & Klemeyer, has been engaged in the design of residential, commercial, institutional, and public architectural and landscape architectural work in the United States and abroad. WVK is internationally known for its work in garden center and retail nursery design and space planning, with clients in 40 states, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy.

At 97 years old, Wertheim has done so much to further the success of the green industry, especially the retail sector. Wertheim was a speaker at innumerable conferences and workshops over many decades where he gave his expert advice to multiple generations of retail businesses. His keen sense of business coupled with his knowledge of national and international trends were well known and respected. Even today, Wertheim travels to industry events to learn, share, and educate others. Now, we celebrate him.

Wertheim recently joined us at the Horticultural Research Institute Summer Reception, in part to honor his longtime business partner Jack Klemeyer. As Wertheim explained, his success and time in the limelight would not have been possible without Klemeyer’s diligent and talented contributions behind the scenes. Wertheim expressed the hope that his donation in Klemeyer’s honor may result in a lasting recognition of their nearly career-long partnership. To contribute to the endowment Wertheim established, please visit or contact Jennifer Gray at 614-884-1155 or

Endowed gifts to HRI are an investment in the industry’s future success. Donations to an established endowment help create an enduring legacy that will benefit the industry in perpetuity. The principal of your donation is invested and the earnings are used to fund research or scholarships.

Thanks to generous philanthropy and strategic investments, HRI’s endowment now totals more than $11 million and boasts over 170 named funds from individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Help Honor a Legacy

Ernest has established an HRI endowment fund in honor of his business partner Jack Klemeyer. Share your support and gratitude by contributing to the fund.