Birmingham’s Premier Landscape Contractor

At Blackjack Horticulture, we know the grass is greener for a reason. Therefore, the daily details matter as much as the big picture, and nothing matters more than relationships. Simply put, we’re passionate about what we do. We always have been.

Whether we’re bringing a landscape architect’s vision to life, managing lawns and gardens, or engineering masonry projects, we measure success by our clients’ satisfaction. If there’s anything we’ve learned since Blackjack opened its doors in 1998, it’s this: the right way is the only way to deliver the long-term value you deserve.

Our approach to business is built on earning your trust, keeping our promises, and placing your needs first. So if you’re looking for more from your landscape company, call us — and together, let’s think outside.


Our Name

In 1998, Blackjack Gardens, Inc. was begun by a local Birmingham family. Located along the Blackjack Ridge in northeast Jefferson County, the name was taken from the Blackjack Oak trees populating this mountain ridge. The company originally incorporated many divisions, but in 2004, the horticulture group separated to become its own enterprise. Blackjack Horticulture, Inc. is now independently owned by Bryan Word who has worked with the business since its early years.


Bryan Word


Bryan is the president of Blackjack Horticulture. He graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Landscape Horticulture and previously served as the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association president. Not only does he hold many years of experience in the industry, but Bryan is also the visionary, forward-thinking, and driving engine behind the company’s growth. He enjoys the diversity of each day and excels in empowering young leaders to work hard with honesty and sincerity. He has been around since the very early years of Blackjack Gardens and later became the owner of Blackjack Horticulture. We find it only appropriate that his favorite tree is an old oak. Bryan is married with three children whom he adores spending time with them at home, at church, or at the lake.


Betsy Hayes


Betsy serves as Blackjack’s Vice-President  – a noble accomplishment given the many different hats required in this role. Also a graduate of the prestigious horticulture department at Auburn University, Betsy’s position with the company has evolved from single-handedly managing flowers to now overseeing all of estimating, sales and communications. Her strong relational skills, ability to plan strategically, and competitive nature have been an enormous asset over the past 17 years. She thrives off day-to-day diversity and will be the first to pull a practical joke if you’re not careful. Betsy and her husband enjoy spending time with their three children outside of work. If she’s not chasing the kids around the house, you will probably find her baking or tending to her private vegetable garden.


Jeremy Stagner

Installation Division Manager

Having over 25 years of experience in the industry, Jeremy is a very experienced horticulturist. As a fellow Auburn horticulture graduate, Jeremy shares the team’s love for creating beautiful landscapes. As a result, he could not be better suited as the Installation Operations Manager. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day operations of our installation division and particularly enjoys executing projects in a timely manner (not to mention under budget). Jeremy’s driven attitude and hardworking spirit fit right in. If Jeremy is not spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, you will probably find him hunting, fishing, canoeing, or really, doing anything outdoors.


Robert Davis

Hardscape Division Manager

Hailing from Bucksville, Alabama, Robert is our revered and time-tested mason. He brings over 40 years of experience to the Blackjack team, meaning he can build just about anything as the Hardscape Division Manager. In addition, he is responsible for teaching and training the men following in his footsteps. If you were to ask Robert what he most enjoys about his role, he will likely say “everything.” He loves the challenge, creation, and hard work necessary to bring something to life by hand. Leaving a mark – both physically and personally on people – motivates him, and we’re grateful for it. If you’ve worked here long enough to try one of his homemade biscuits, he is sure to leave a mark that way too. Cooking is a favorite pastime of his outside of being with his wife and two grown daughters.


Matt Walker

Maintenance Division Manager

Matt joins our team with 25 years of experience in the green industry. Originally from Northern Utah, Matt misses the mountains from time to time, but he claims that the Birmingham woodlands have a familiar appearance. He also doesn’t mind living close to the beautiful Gulf Coast beaches! Matt is married to Cindy with five children (Jasmyn, Ariel, Aurora, Tea, and Micah) and two grandchildren (Jack and Scarlette). When Matt is not at work, you may find him spending time with his family, serving at his church, or watching sports.  We are happy to have him on our team!


Ben Jones

Estimator and Sales

Born and raised in Montgomery, Ben knew that he was passionate about landscaping at an early age. Upon graduating from Auburn with a degree in Agronomy and Soil Science focused in Horticulture, Ben moved to Atlanta, where he worked for a large commercial landscape company. After returning to Alabama, Ben worked for a residential landscape company where he gained experience in sales and project management, contributing to the new role he has taken on at Blackjack as Estimator and Sales. Ben has strong relational skills that allow him to foster meaningful and successful relationships with his clients. He is driven and values quality service for both his clients and coworkers. When Ben is not at work, he and his wife enjoy spending time at the lake or the farm with their families and friends.

Leah Quarles

Maintenance Sales

Leah grew up on her family farm in Sardis, AL. Even though she did not realize it growing up, she was clearly passionate about horticulture. Leah graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Horticulture/Landscape Design and worked for a large landscape company for 18 years overseeing the floriculture department.  Leah enjoys learning about her clients’ styles and what they enjoy seeing in their gardens. She loves being able to work with colors and textures to create beautiful landscapes. When Leah is not at work, you can find her working on her cut flower farm or spending time with friends and family.


Leah Kay

Landscape Designer

Since dressing up as a florist for a fall festival in the third grade, Leah has known that a creative role in the green industry was her ultimate vocational aim. Leah joined the Blackjack team with a Master’s in Horticulture from Auburn University and several years of experience in landscape and floral design. Her creativity, joyful spirit, and passion for the industry make her a perfect addition to the team. When Leah is not at Blackjack, you may find her running around with her nieces and nephew or creating lovely floral arrangements for a weekend wedding!


Taylor Elders

Client Relationship Manager

Taylor joined the Blackjack team with a degree in Landscape Design from Auburn and an acute eye for creativity. After teaching high school agriculture upon graduation, she assumed the role of Floriculture Division Manager, who designs, installs, and manages every flower-related account.  Although she appreciates all blossoms, her favorites are gardenias and pentas. Taylor’s passion for all things floral compliments her love for people and keeps her clients happy. After seven years of working in that role, Taylor moved to the role of Client Relationship Manager. Now, Taylor oversees many of our clients’ accounts and is always looking for ways to exceed their expectations. When Taylor is not at work, it’s a safe bet she’s with family – her nieces, nephews, husband, sons, or chocolate lab.


Kristen Carpenter

Client Relationship Manager

Kristen serves as one of Blackjack’s Client Relationship Managers. She joined the team with a degree from Troy University in 2019 and a passion for people and creativity. Kristen enjoys the variety in her job – from talking with customers to walking their properties – she loves it all. In her free time, she enjoys photographing people, playing pickleball, and taking care of her plant collection. Kristen also loves to hang out with her husband and friends playing board games, exploring new places, or spending time outdoors.


Jonathan Cannon

Client Relationship Manager

Jonathan was born in Mobile, AL, and raised in Memphis, TN. After high school, he returned to Alabama and attended the University of Montevallo in 2012. After graduating with a B.S. in Business Management, he spent 7 years working in sales with the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Since college, he has always enjoyed doing landscape maintenance in his spare time, whether for a customer or on the Serve Team at church. He and his wife, Peyton, recently got married in February 2023! When not they are not at work, you may find them doing house projects, spending time with family, attending Hunter Street Baptist Church, or on the boat at Logan Martin Lake (that’s where Jonathan proposed in June of 2022).


Chris Murphy

Maintenance Operations Manager

Joining the team with nearly ten years of experience in the green industry, Chris is our Maintenance Operations Manager. When Chris is not at work, he loves spending time with his wife, Alisha, and his two kids, Hastyn and Delaney Rose. You also may find him playing the guitar or going to the gym.  Chris played baseball most of his life, and, similar to baseball, there is a comradery in landscaping that he loves! We are so happy to have him on the Blackjack Horticulture team!


Clayton Hollis

Maintenance Operations Manager

Born and raised in Montgomery, AL, Clayton Hollis is our newest Maintenance Operations Manager. He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Agronomy and Soil Sciences. He joined our team with 14 years of experience in the green industry, primarily as a superintendent of golf course grounds maintenance. Clayton loves working outdoors and particularly enjoys the landscape industry because every property is unique and has its own style, making every day different and exciting. Outside of work, you may find him spending time with his wife of 6 years, Jennifer, and their animals (5 dogs, 2 horses, and 1 pig). He also enjoys working out, golfing, hunting, and working around his own property. He and Jennifer also love to cook out after Church on Sunday afternoons.


Max Perez

Maintenance Operations Manager

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Max moved to the States in 2002 and has been working with Blackjack Horticulture ever since. After 20 years of experience working with Blackjack, he is still passionate about garden maintenance. Max has five children: Kevin, Yasmin, Santino, Maitena, and Jacqueline. He also is a grandfather to four kids! He loves having a big family and spending time with them every chance he gets. He enjoys playing and recording drums in his home studio when he is not with his family or at work. Max also enjoys playing with car simulators and renovating his home in his spare time!


Hannah Brennan

Director of Recruitment and Employee Engagement

Hannah serves as Blackjack’s Director of Recruitment and Employee Engagement. She graduated from Troy University in 2020 and has a passion for people and experiences. Hannah enjoys how relational her role is. In her free time, Hannah loves to write music, hang out with friends, explore new places, and crack a quirky joke or two.



Sarah Beth Plemons

Director of Communications 

Sarah Beth Plemons is the Director of Communications at Blackjack. She grew up in the Birmingham area and attended The University of North Alabama. She graduated college in 2023 with a degree in Business Marketing. Sarah Beth’s favorite part of the job is how creative her role is. When she is not at work, she hangs out with friends and family, reads, or does embroidery.

Blackjack Horticulture works all over the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and other surrounding areas.