Shelly Graziano Christie’s passion for gardens and landscaping resulted in her eventually starting a business.
She started dabbling in garden maintenance on a part-time basis in 2005.
Now, almost 10 years later, Christie has expanded her business by opening a garden center in rural Waupaca.
“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” she said.
Graziano Gardens is located at W3280 Akron Court, in the town of Saxeville.
What was once a 40-acre farm is now home to the garden center and landscaping company.
Christie and her husband Scott bought the property in the summer of 2011.
“The goal was to have enough space to make it an enjoyable setting, where we could have events and make it a destination nursery,” she said.
Christie likes to say it is “in the middle of nowhere,” but explains that the garden center is actually close to a lot of communities.
“We are about 10 miles south of Waupaca, eight miles southwest of Weyauwega, 15 miles northeast of Wild Rose, five miles from Saxeville and 10 miles north of Pine River,” she said.
Calling herself a landscape designer, Christie said she became interested in gardens and landscaping when she started gardening at the couple’s own home, the Christy House in Waupaca.
She began taking horticulture classes at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton.
Christie, who received a degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, was a director of marketing for a paper manufacturing company.
After she and Scott started their family, she was a stay-at-home mother for several years. She also did part-time consulting work from home.
As Christie worked on her own gardens she learned there was a need for garden maintenance.
In 2006, Christie met a local hardscape contractor.
“He didn’t deal in plants or design,” she said. “We worked closely together. We worked cooperatively on many fun jobs – new homes, summer homes on the Chain.”
In addition to her design work, she could offer garden maintenance.
“I’ve been very blessed to have that market. Fifty to 60 percent of our business is garden maintenance,” she said.
In 2007, Christie formed Graziano Gardens LLC.
“It actually snowballed. I doubled my size every year for five of those years. Now, it has leveled off,” she said.
Christie says being a small business allows her to pay attention to detail and to be more of a specialty garden design and maintenance business.
For years, she worked out of the Christy House, using it for trial and demonstration gardens.
Late last summer, Christie offered a sneak peak of the new garden center, which also includes the work of local artists.
“The beauty of having this is that now, I can do some of the design consultation work on site. People can bring their mobile devices here,’ she said. “We have demonstration gardens. It’s the logical reason for having the garden center and nursery.”
Christie specializes in deer resistant plants, drought tolerant varieties, winter interest and plants that bloom from spring through the fall.
“I design everything from contemporary to country and cottage gardens,” she said. “So I look at my design style as flexible. I cater to my customers – the style of their houses, the clients themselves.”
In addition, the new garden center allows those who have a passion for gardening and landscaping to find edibles and natives.
“We carry about 60 natives already and plan to grow that significantly,” Christie said.
She said they want to grow that because there are so many lakes in the area, allowing for shoreline restoration and rain gardens.
“I can wake up knowing that I help people with something they really enjoy,” she said.
She may be contacted at 920-427-9004.
Graziano Garden Center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, and events are being held there throughout the summer.