Local store and nursery The Natural Gardener has been a labor of love for owner John Dromgoole.
“I consider this my garden,” he said.
Strolling down the pathways that wind through the 8-acre property in Southwest Austin, Dromgoole is quick to mention personal touches, such as a stone labyrinth used for meditation, a garden for the Virgin of Guadalupe where mariachi musicians play each December and a large flowerbed he says is an homage to Willie Nelson’s guitar, named “Trigger.”
He points out demonstration gardens where customers can learn how to meet their gardening goals while maintaining respect for the earth. His hands lift pieces of fragrant lavender in the herb garden, and he watches as delicate insects land on blooms in the butterfly garden.
Dromgoole moved to Austin in the 1970s after leaving the Rio Grande Valley. He and his wife, Jane, established an organic garden store in August 1993 under the name Gardenville, which later changed names to The Natural Gardener. In 1994, he and Jane became sole owners of the store, which has cultivated a catalog of products, including plants, seeds, gifts, tools, fertilizers, compost tea and pest-control solutions, he said.
The store offers free classes and advice from experts who can help diagnose problems and target solutions for plant growth. Gardening’s benefits include self-sufficiency, improving the value of a home, and the peace of mind that comes with growing and eating organic produce, he said. But one of the biggest benefits is that the hobby is holistic.
“Putting your hands in the earth is a whole different experience than watching TV, especially these days, or watching your stocks,” he said.
Dromgoole said the store aims to help others in Austin experience that energy and connection with nature.
The Natural Gardener
8648 Old Bee Caves Road, Austin, 512-288-6113 • www.naturalgardeneraustin.com
Hours: Sun. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.