DEWALD GARDENS SPECIALIZES IN THE UNIQUE & UNUSUAL
By Darrell Boone
for Fort Wayne Newspapers
When owner Steve DeWald says DeWald Gardens specializes in the unique and unusual, he’s not just referring to his plants.
The Dupont area businessman readily confesses that those adjectives could just as easily apply to the backgrounds of himself and his wife, Maria. Both have Ph.D.’s in horticulture and are former research scientists for large seed companies. But six years ago the couple made a major career switch, and opened their own garden center at 12700 Lima Rd. Steve describes himself as the grower, and wife and co-owner Maria, who was born in Rome, Italy, as the creative director. Steve chuckles, “We’re probably the only two Ph.D. scientists in the country running a garden center.”
Regarding their plants, Steve goes on to say they really do specialize in the unique and unusual. “More and more people are looking for something different for the home and garden. We do lots of tropical plants, which gives them the feel of a ‘tropical vacation,’ without having to spend the money to travel to an exotic location.” The firm also specializes in “container gardening,” which Steve described as essentially “gardening in a pot.” Steve states that “Gardening is still the number one pastime in America, but people today just don’t have the time to till up a five acre garden anymore. So they’re turning to container gardening, where they can still enjoy the pleasure and beauty of gardening, while getting the most quality out of their limited amount of time.”
The firm also handles aquatic plants and installs ponds, which have become very popular. DeWald Gardens has a short commercial season, from April 22nd to July 4th. The rest of the year they spend growing plants, and grow almost everything they sell themselves.
Of owning their own business, Steve says that he and Maria “are working harder than they ever have before, but that they would never go back.” The DeWalds have a son at IU and a daughter at Carroll High School who help out in the business when they can. Steve, who is originally from Fort Wayne, adds that after living various places around the country, they love being part of the Fort Wayne community.
Steve also states that God has blessed them by giving them the opportunity to work around plants, and also with a wonderful staff. He adds, “In this troubled world, more and more people are finding refuge in plants and gardening.”