A Humble Pioneer’s Efforts are Recognized
Jan 31, 2013 12:15AM
● By Julie Thibodeaux
Greg Rohde was organic before organic was cool. Shortly after opening Rohde’s Nursery and Nature Store in 1984, in Garland, the Dallas native made a daring switch when he quit selling mostly traditional lawn care products and instead stocked his garden center with natural solutions and native plants.
Rohde relates an incident that occurred while he was working in his landscaping business that convinced him to make the switch. One day while he was treating a plant with a harsh insecticide for a client, the wind shifted, dousing him with the chemical. He completed the job, but later drove himself to the hospital after suffering an adverse reaction. That’s when he knew he had to change the products he was using.
He was convinced it was an overkill of toxins and potentially harmful to humans. Shortly after the incident, he sent a letter to all of his clients, letting them know he was giving up chemicals for good. While some customers were skeptical at first, they were soon won over, he says. “I was having better results with the organic products. Plus, my clients didn’t have to water as much.”
By 1986, Rohde was operating one of the first and only organic garden centers in North Texas. Soon, he was drawing customers from as far away as Oklahoma and Arkansas. Rohde says taking a leap of faith to organics 30 years ago has proven to be a success. “Our first year was a struggle, then all of a sudden people were looking for other ways to care for their lawns.” Since then, Rohde’s Nursery and Nature Store has blazed a trail for other garden centers to follow and serves as an outpost for organic gardeners across the Metroplex.
While other organic garden centers and big box stores have become competitors, Rohde’s is still the go-to place for expert gardening advice. In addition to a full-scale nursery that produces native and drought-tolerant plants, Rohde’s carries a line of its own organic lawn care products and a full menu of landscaping services, from home consultations and lawn care to custom landscape design and installation.
One thing that sets Rohde’s apart is the owner’s decades of experience, and that also applies to his knowledgeable staff, which have grown with him over the years. “I think of my employees as family,” Rohde says. “Most of them have been with me for more than 20 years; some over 35 years.”
Rohde’s Nursery and Nature Store is located at 1651 Wall St., in Garland. For more information, visit BeOrganic.com.
Julie Thibodeaux is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Dallas.