How We Came to Bee, Native Gardeners' One Year Anniversary
We all strive to have a profession that replenishes our souls, along with our bank accounts. However, in this challenging world, that is not always an easy goal to achieve. We work hard and aim to do our best daily to spark joy. Doug and Derek, two close friends and gardening enthusiasts, saw a much-needed spark not only in their personal lives but in the lives of their community and the world around them. So they set out on August 1st of, 2021, dreaming of bringing beauty and ecology back to our yards and giving our neighbors a safe space to find peace. After one year, the now founders and co-owners of Native Gardeners find themselves bathing in the warm glow of joy daily as they work alongside their growing team to make our shared world a little brighter.
The story of Native Gardeners starts with a bee. Well, pollinators and how to create a pollinator-friendly garden bed, to be exact. In 2020, many of us lost our footing and had to find new ground to stand on. Removed from his usual routine, Derek found solace in his neighborhood community garden. As we all know, bees are the backbone of every successful garden, and Derek wanted to find a way to “bring all the bees to the yard.” Doug, resident ecology nerd and close friend, was investigating bee-friendly plants at the time and suggested a little experiment. A little experiment involving various plants, 3 acres of land, 6 feet of distance, and a sweet woman we call Granny.
We all found ways to be with one another safely during the pandemic. Some people did Zoom call happy hours; others sat in lawn chairs many feet from one another. This author personally ate dinner at separate tables with their best friend on a 40-degree patio. Derek chose gardening dates with his grandmother, Granny. Experimenting with pollinator flower beds at Granny’s gave him a safe way to visit with his family and feel like he was doing something good in dark times. This near-daily gardening allowed Derek to think about where he found the most joy in his life. That joyous spark appeared when the first bumble bee visited Granny’s garden. Seeing the positive changes in the landscape he had toiled over felt so fulfilling. Derek knew that this little experiment needed to be grander.
After a phone call to Doug to pitch this grand experiment, the two gardeners began researching local ecology, working on their design, and reading many, many, many books! They started with the yards of family, then friends began to ask for their services. Then neighbors got curious about the two tall men digging around in the dirt, muttering about native plants. And soon enough, the two were such busy bees that Derek asked, “Why aren’t we making this our lives? Let's make it official!” And on August 1st of, 2021, Doug and Derek officially started what we lovingly call now, Native Gardeners. From a dark place with little community and listless futures, Doug and Derek found joy and meaning through their gardening. They took the joy they found in that first bee visit and set up a company to not only “bring all the bees to the yard” but to work with nature for the beauty of us all, build community and bring light to others’ lives.
"I have always wanted to create spaces for other people to enjoy. Growing up, my parents owned a motel. Consequently, gardening catalogs would come to our house from all over. I would spend hours looking at the roses and dreaming of how I would turn my parents' business into a beautiful garden. During my 4-H program in the fourth grade, I was able to build a garden. It was then that I caught the gardening bug. Over time, my career led to more travel. Being a resident of an urban dwelling, the spaces I have had to grow in were never big enough to allow me to share my love of color and design. As a result of the succession of deaths in my family, I knew I needed to change my career path. I wanted to be outside again. I wanted my hands in the dirt. I felt like I needed a fresh start. My in-laws had flower beds that needed redoing, so I started doing that. My next relative asked me to redo hers as well. A friend and another friend followed. Thus, Native Gardeners was born. I wanted to create spaces that people could enjoy."
“I will be the first to admit that my bean struggled when it came to the bean growing experiment in school. I wanted to know why mine failed. From that relentless curiosity, I would constantly learn more about gardening. When I spent my summers with my grandparents, they had me plant trees, make trellises and catch insects to look up in my identification books. I developed a love for nature and gardening from these early memories. This passion has stayed with me throughout my college years and on every patio ever since. When Derek initially came to me with the opportunity to start a gardening business, I said no. But Derek was determined to design better yards, and his passion for color encouraged me to grow a business with him. It's been thousands of flowers and a lot of hardscape since then.”
A year later, Native Gardeners has a team of 9 beautiful people, an ever-expanding nursery, a list of freshly mulched yards, and many more spaces to transform. As our team celebrates our first year of success and anxiously waits to see what the future brings, we pause to say “Thank you.” Thank you to those who believed in Doug and Derek from day one. Thank you to our community, who made space for us to grow. Thank you to our clients who saw value in our grand visions. Every bit of support brings more life to our joyous sparks. With this much light, the Native Gardeners’ future looks like a sky full of fireworks.
A Special Thank You