Allen Ritchey

“owner, operator, weeder, waterer, planter, potter and slug-slayer of Al’s Auto Body & Arboretum.”

The Founder and owner

Allen Ritchey is the owner and operator of Al’s Auto Body and Arboretum.


how it started…

It all began in 1991 when Al planted a few hostas to landscape around his body shop. After finishing up work in his shop Al would go out into the Arboretum and start planting beds. After a few years of doing this, to “blow off steam,” or as Al likes to mention, using this as his source of therapy, he had a good portion of the five-acre backyard landscaped. “The arboretum is therapy,” he said. “If I get frustrated (in the shop), I take it out on the weeds.”

Al grew up on the five-acre property, which sits under a mix of oak, hickory and walnut trees, providing the perfect environment for hostas to thrive. Hostas are a hardy, carefree plant and with over seven thousand varieties registered, they leave endless possibilities for gardeners. Al has over four hundred varieties within his arboretum. Each year new species arise either from developers or natural mutations. Al’s Compadre hosta is a plant that mutated from the Emerald Tiara family. It occurred over 20 years ago by a pre emergent. Al watched the plant carefully for a few years and it stayed true to its look even when divided. Al registered it under the name Compadre because the hosta is a friendship plant.

Al’s Arboretum is the only arboretum outside of a municipality in Walworth County. The area of our arboretum is oddly enough a large percent of the county park space in the county. Al is happy to have this space open to the public so we can share its beauty together.

The scale of Al’s Arboretum — actually more like Hosta heaven — is mind boggling. None of us really had any idea what to expect when we pulled up to the site. But once we started our tour, we were all agog.
— Linda Brazil