Don's Lawn and Garden Care closes garden center after 35 years

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, May 12, 2013

— Diane Eastman rarely missed Mother's Day open house weekend at Don's Lawn and Garden Care's garden center the past 20 years.

The Janesville woman was excited about how well the fern leaf peonies and bleeding heart plants were doing that she bought last year, and she brought pictures on her smart phone Saturday morning to share with owner Don Teske.

Eastman described the visit as the grand finale to their longtime gardening relationship.

“This is kind of the celebration to the close,” she said.

That's because Don's Lawn and Garden Care closed its garden center Saturday.

It became official with an auction at the facility at 5828 S. County G, located on 3.5 acres next to Blackhawk Technical College.

“We're having a sale to get rid of it—the store,” said Teske, president and owner, who explained that the business started as a hobby.

“After 35 years and you're 86, it's about time to do it. I'm not able to get around much,” he said using a walker to maneuver through the crowd of several hundred people who had gathered for the auction.

Repeatedly, auction-goers interrupted Teske with questions about ponds and the strawberry plants up for auction. He had his usual quick, brief answers for them.

Teske suffered a stroke 18 months ago and since then has been thinking about closing the garden center. Also factoring into his decision to end this part of the family-run business was competition from a growing number of local and area big box stores plus upcoming highway construction this fall that would block the main entrance to the garden center for a length of time, he said.

The business, however, will continue offering complete landscaping, mowing maintenance and irrigation services that will be operated part time by Teske's son, Mark Teske of Janesville.

After investing so much time and his life into the business, Teske said: “It's (still) difficult when you see a barn full of all the stuff going.”

That stuff included lawn, patio and garden décor from sand-cast animals to fountains of all kinds plus stepping-stones and statues. There also were trees and shrubs, plants, hanging baskets, pond items, garden tools, chemicals and supplies plus store fixtures and nursery items.

Yet Teske admitted: “We had a good time, made a fair living,” while operating the family-owned and operated garden center that has been providing trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials since 1977.

“If I hadn't had the stroke, I probably wouldn't have sold,” he said.

Teske was happy with the crowd of several hundred people who turned out for the auction.

“I appreciate that and will appreciate it even more if they've got their pocketbooks with them,” he said with a chuckle.

Over the years, Eastman sought Teske's gardening advice, grew to trust the longtime businessman's knowledge and appreciated his honesty.

“I'm going to miss him,” she said, “but will never forget him'' or the garden center.

Last updated: 10:37 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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