40 Under 40, Class of 2015

Denise Kelly


Smith Gardens Inc., Bellingham, Washington

Job Title

Planning and Plant Trials Manager


Created company’s trial program that started with just a few varieties and now has more than 1,000 varieties and a program bringing in money to offset costs. With a product line that spans annuals, perennials, shrubs and edibles, she manages the planning of more than 4,700 line items and 32 brands for distribution to six different retailers.


Down on the Farm … Way Down: Before joining Smith Gardens, Denise was an organic farmer in Hawaii growing lettuce and coffee for local grocery stores and restaurants.

Fun Facts

Chef Denise? When she’s not in the greenhouse, Denise enjoys cooking. “I love to cook because I love plants and I love to eat. I am a self-proclaimed foodie and fantasize about the culinary arts.”