Jon Gabriel Mathews was only 5 years old when he began working alongside his dad and learning about the family business, Shades of Texas. Twenty years later, he is the general manager of two family-owned nursery locations.

Shades of Texas opened its first location in South Houston more than 30 years ago. After decades of success, the Mathews decided to expand north to Montgomery County to fill a void in the community by opening a second location in Magnolia in 2014.

“We have very unique jobs because every single day is different,” Mathews said. “We get to see something flourish from nothing, which is really special because most people don’t get to see a final product from the beginning.”

The nursery specializes in both retail and wholesale options and sells more than 1,000 different species of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. Some of the nursery’s unique stock includes fruit trees, topiaries, milkweed and bottlebrush.

“At this location, we’ve about tripled in size over the last three years, and we’ve really grown the variety of products we carry to meet the needs of the people in this area,” Mathews said. “We’ve also grown our staff to ensure we maintain a high level of service for all of our customers.”

Part of maintaining a high level of service, Mathews said, is having a well-trained and knowledgeable staff that remains dedicated and honest with customers.

Assistant Manager Asia Payne said she typically spends 45 minutes to an hour with each customer.

“We really respect our customers, and we want them to be successful with what they’re growing,” Payne said. “We will tell our customers if it’s not a good idea to plant a tree in a certain location and try to find alternative options. We also have instructional handouts, which I think really help our customers be successful with the money they’ve spent here.”

Under the same roof is All-American Stone & Turf, a retail and wholesale landscaping supply company, which Mathews said allows Shades of Texas to serve as a one-stop shop that is unique to the area.

“We’re one of the few places in Houston that does what we do,” Mathews said. “Most places have landscaping supplies and then a separate nursery, but we’re all-inclusive.” 

With like-minded business mission statements, Daniel Baker, All-American Stone & Turf general manager, said the business thrives because it puts the customer before the sale.

“I would rather not sell you something than sell you something that’s going to be a bad fit for your location or landscape plan,” Baker said.

Baker and Mathews both agreed the most     important part of being a successful gardener starts from the ground up.

“The most important thing is to start with good, nutrient-rich soil,” Mathews said. “You have to start with a good base because it doesn’t matter what you plant or how good the plant is; if it doesn’t have good soil around it and to grow in, it will be    unsuccessful.”

Due to Texas’ unique climate, Mathews said it is important for local gardeners to plant early enough in the season for plants to thrive during April and May before the summer heat sets in.

Mathews said in the future, although he does not have plans to expand or open a new location,  he hopes to continue maintaining the high-quality service Shades of Texas strives for while educating clients about best practices for successful gardening in the Greater Houston Area.

“There are a lot of people that are in new homes that recently moved here from all over the country and even the world, and we want to be able to help them make the right selections for what works in this area,” Mathews said.