It’s the end of an era, as Fockele Garden Company closes after 33 years

January 31st – Green gardening takes place, plants grow and flowers bloom.

For more than 33 years, the Fockele Garden Company has been creating paradise-like environments for many of its clients using plants, walkways and water features.This week, owner Julie Evans retired. closed.

“The niche we really had was our botanical knowledge and our ability to create gardens instead of standard landscapes,” she said.

Founder Mark Fockele added, “We developed a niche to make waterfalls look like they have been around for 100 years.

And Fockel Gardens has responded with projects both within and outside the region, such as the Pope Family Garden and Ann’s Garden at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville.

Ann’s Garden was “a real highlight because we walked into the Donner Garden,” says Evans. “I was really proud of it.”

Fockel nodded and said he could also “sign on to that project” as a favorite.

“It was kind of an inflection point for us to handle that kind of work,” Evans continued. Did.”

Evans, 60, and Fockel, 69, told The Times this week about the history of the business: how it was founded, how it grew and how the two became partners.

It all started when Fockele, son of the late Lou Fockele, the longtime publisher of The Times, decided to make a drastic career change.

Although he practiced law for 10 years, “what I really enjoyed was outdoor construction and gardening at home,” he said. “I found myself obsessed with it. As soon as it started to get dark, I was out in the driveway waiting for the sun to come up.”

“In his overalls and shovel,” Evans exclaimed, laughing.

“I thought it would be a more fulfilling activity for the rest of my life, so I switched, hired a few people, and learned as I went.”

He dived headlong into his new venture, “attending many seminars on gardening and landscaping, learning about each piece as needed”.

The business “moves from gardens of a particular kind, size and kind, sometimes to larger gardens, sometimes complex gardens, sometimes domesticated institutional gardens, and sometimes more wild and unmanicured natural style gardens. developed step by step.”

Fockel met Evans in 2000 at an artificial creek project in North Atlanta.

“I was hired to create a stream. It was about 100 feet long and involved a lot of stones. Julie was brought in to design, install and manage the planting. said Fockel.

“We found that we worked really well together and looked for additional projects that we could do together,” he added.

“I wanted to know what he was doing,” recalls Evans. “I remember sitting on the porch[of a client]eating lunch and he said maybe we should work together.”

Over the years, he has worked on many residential and commercial projects, including the Lanier Village Estate Retirement Community in North Hall, Callaway Gardens in Middle Georgia, and Freedom Gardens at the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville.

During the Great Recession of 2007-2008, “commercial activity really saved the business,” Evans said. “There was still commercial work going on, but people weren’t really creating residential gardens. We got a big customer.”

The company won a national award in 2012 for its design and installation of the Wilhite Keys Peace Garden at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

“Another thing that I am most proud of is the fact that we have built a team capable of producing this kind of work,” says Fockele.

Plagued by several health problems, Fockel sold the business to Evans three years ago.

“It was getting enough for me,” he said.

But he fondly remembers it.

“What I miss most is bringing together the interests and wishes of our customers, the potential of the site, the capabilities of our crew and the quality of the plants available on the market,” said Fockele.

He went on to describe the workplace as a magical place.

But the job is stressful, says Evans.

“There is constant pressure on production … and frustration with so many aspects of what the industry is becoming, with shortages of materials, available factories, and manpower,” she said. “This is a difficult small business environment.”

For her part, Evans is ready to begin retirement and travel.

But she did share some of the feelings Fockel had about such work, and leaving fellow workers behind.

“It’s been very rewarding to put all of this together and basically have something come to life,” she said. “We have great customers who have stayed with us and done projects over the years.”

“It was a lot of fun,” Evans said, glancing at Fockel. “We had a good run.”

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