Still Growing: Allisonville Garden & Home Celebrates 40 Years
Writer / Kara Reibel
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Allisonville Garden & Home owner Jeff Gatewood and his team are celebrating four decades of beautification.
A keystone business in Fishers, Allisonville Garden & Home (formerly known as Allisonville Nursery) is commemorating its milestone anniversary with a party on June 30, corresponding with the Fishers Freedom Festival and this year’s Bicentennial celebration.
Jeff’s father Carl Gatewood along with Jeff’s grandparents owned a vast amount of land along Allisonville Road. Carl was a farmer, excavator and contractor who built roads and streets. However, Carl is probably best known for building the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport. Jeff and his older brothers helped with the construction of the runways and hangar.
In 1976 after Jeff quit college, his father suggested they drive up to Michigan and buy a truck load of evergreens to sell off the lot across the street. That lot was located on the corner of Allisonville and 106th Street and was part of the Gatewood property.
“I thought I would be a rancher or a history teacher,” shares Jeff who went to college for a year and a half in Montana. “I couldn’t think of anything that would be fun prior to knowing about this [horticulture] industry.”
As a result of its close proximity to the airport, planes were a concern. During their time at that location, three planes made unscheduled landings on the property. Fortunately no one was injured. In 1985, the business relocated to its current address on 4.6 acres.
“My dad helped get the business started, and I love what I am doing,” says Jeff. “It’s fun, and I still enjoy coming to work every day.”
The business has grown (pun intended) over the years. Seasonally, they average over 50 employees. Landscape plantings is still a great deal of what they do. While there is no hardscape offerings, the Allisonville Garden & Home team is amazingly well-equipped to assist with designing needs. “We still plant a lot of trees,” says Jeff.
Jacques Schindler has been with Jeff the longest. Jacques was a Chatard student at the time he began working with Jeff at Allisonville Nursery. “I lived in Glendale and have no idea how I found this place,” says Jacques with a smile.
He has been working with Allisonville Garden & Home for almost as long as Jeff has been in business. “It’s been over 38 years. I recall being at Purdue and changing my major from meteorology to horticulture, and I called Jeff and asked him if he would hire me after I graduate if I got that degree. He said yes, but the joke was at the time, Jeff was just hoping to be able to keep up with expenses and wanted to hire me but had no idea if he could keep that promise. Things have worked out well.”
“Jacques is a great example of our intrinsic value to our customers,” shares Jeff. “Jacques is a horticulture expert, loves what he does and is part of our strong foundation.”
There are other employees like Jacques that bring an immense amount of experience to their positions. Allisonville Garden & Home has employees who have worked with cataloging plants at the Smithsonian and National Botanical Gardens, yet they are all approachable individuals. Those who are new to gardening find that the staff at Allisonville Garden & Home speak their language and are happy to help. There is even a full-time landscape designer on staff.
“We are unique in that we have one of the most experienced staff in the Midwest and have by far the best team of any garden shop,” says Jeff confidently. “We pride ourselves in customer service, and we prove it with every interaction.”
Watching the trends in the industry, Allisonville Garden & Home is ahead of the curve. With 7,000 square feet of retail space, they offer an impressive array of interior design elements in addition to their beautiful plant selection for outdoors. The name change evolved as their business has shifted to be more holistically about the home, both inside and out. The retail gift shop features home decor and beautiful accent pieces in addition to indoor plants and furnishings.
“We will always be a garden shop, but over the years, we wished to offer more, and with our clientele being predominantly female, we have catered to the market,” says buyer Mary Wildhardt. “Being a seasonal retailer, we completely transform the interior gift shop a few times a year which feels like a new grand opening each season. It’s great fun!”
Allisonville Garden & Home sees the trends that are driven by what people are seeing online. For instance, the once-popular container workshops have evolved into easy, simple projects where more customers want to buy them pre-done.
“In many instances, we sell the garden, not the gardening,” says Jacques. “Some clients are still wishing to know how to do it themselves, but we accommodate all customers based on their time, need and design aesthetic.”
In keeping up with the digital age, Allisonville Garden & Home has added online tree sales. Their website, bowerandbranch.com, enables customers to order any tree not commonly held in stock and allows for pick up at Allisonville Garden & Home. “We are a part of the first nationwide network of gardening centers,” says Jeff. This enables customers to buy specialty trees and still have the best quality installation service with the Allisonville Garden & Home experts.
“We are a destination location,” says Jeff. “We have many clients that drive a long distance to come here to shop. We have one client from L.A. who comes to Indianapolis on business regularly and always adds us to her agenda.”
Every item that Allisonville Garden & Home sells is hand-picked. Jeff and Jacques travel to Oregon and places where they are able to see the farms where the product is grown and how it’s cared for. Jeff’s wife Nancy as well as Mary are the buyers for the interior design items, and they travel across the country on buying trips doing much of the same selection process.
“I love what I do,” shares Mary who is an interior designer. “Guests may walk through just to find inspiration for their home. We have a mix of traditional and conventional, but also items that are edgy at all price points. We’ve developed a man’s gift section too. Between the gardens and the interior decor, we create lifestyles for our customers.”
Over the last few years, Allisonville Garden & Home has played host to a variety of events including a Horticulture Couture fashion show which was held in May with partner Dottie Couture and their popular Holiday Open House in November.
“We host a variety of events, from jazz and blues to a fun annual fashion show featuring not only fashions in clothing, but also with plants,” shares Scott Bardach, Marketing Director for Allisonville Garden & Home. “We take a lot of pride in our events. This is an opportunity for the community to come together. After our anniversary party in June, we have a Blues, Brews & BBQs night in July. It’s an amazing experience to be here and enjoy music, food and drink among our beautiful gardens.”
Ranked in the Top 50 Garden Centers in the country, Allisonville Garden & Home is keeping things fresh.
“To be a really good gardening center is not easy,” says Jeff who makes it look easy. “There is a lot that goes into it: the ambience, the cleanliness, the offerings, the staff and their knowledge, the product. Our secret ingredient is a mix of all of these things.”
The true secret ingredient is not a secret: everyone at Allisonville Garden & Home loves what they do and will be celebrating anniversaries for decades to come. Visit allisonvillegarden.com for more information.