Gardens, 1818 West 35th Street, Austin, Texas
Lifestyle store, interior shop, plant nursery, and landscape architecture firm
I literally stumbled (my car broke down) upon Gardens on 35th Street in the spring of 1999. Four months prior to that I landed in Austin after studying Retail Design in New York City (Parsons School of Design) and was working various part-time jobs (visual merchandising for Saks Fifth Avenue, the deli counter at Whole Foods, and illustrating a children’s book for Dutton/ Penguin Publishing group) to make ends meet. The grand corrugated metal barn (Mell Lawrence Architecture) structure with beautiful gardens drew me into to this curious place. Upon entering everyone of my senses was stimulated~ the smell of fresh flowers, furniture oil, and finely milled soaps and French music playing,. The space was elegantly arranged with furniture made Indonesian teak, zinc farmhouse tables from Belgium, and elegant storage antique storage chests from Japan. These furniture pieces were the ‘fixtures’ for an eclectic collection of goods sourced from the owner’s travels~ heavy copper cooking pots from France, the perfect straw hat from California, wall of garden seeds from Italy, potpourri from Florence, glassware and ceramics from the finest craftsmen in Europe and the States. Outside was a plant nursery that was arranged so that you felt as if you were in a highly designed garden arranged with the intention for colors and textures coming into play, rows of plants forming lines to take your eye to a restful place. There was an area of Italian Terracotta pots in strong simple shapes from small for a cactus to really big. The doors wide open, fresh air, the nursery staff carrying trays of plants and bags of dirt out to a customer’s car created a cheerful bustle and hustle. The shop staff inside wearing pretty dresses, wrapping handsome packages, serving Pelegrinos or Lattes, and arranging flowers… You get the picture… Lovely and dynamic!
Of course, then and there I asked for an application. I was hired. This was the ulitimate apprenticeship, my dream job, and an opportunity to put my education to work and really shine. I gave it my all and loved working for James David and Gary Peese (owners) and beside a staff of about 20 people between the interior shop and retail nursery. Gardens was also a landscape architecture firm (design, build, maintain), under James David, which was an equally dynamic part of the business. My responsibilities included being the visual merchandiser for the shop, managing the shop staff, and being a part of the buying team seasonally traveling to New York, Europe (Paris & Belgium), and Los Angeles. I loved this chapter of my life and great things came from it, like meeting my husband Jason Minshew (managed the nursery, during part of the time I managed the shop) and making life long friendships with some very talented and good hearted people. I adored the customers and am always thrilled to cross paths with them. Gardens closed its doors after bringing amazing style to Austin and beyond for over 25 years. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been of service to James and Gary and there is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about Gardens. Take a look at the pictures of this beautiful place that I am proud to say I was a part of.