Garden center property purchased by nearby church, preschool to open there.
While Nature Scapes Landscape and Garden Center, a Flagler County institution since 1984, closed the doors to its garden center on Oct. 26, new owner David Matchett wants people to know the landscaping business will continue as usual.
“Same staff, same phone number, same website, same Facebook, same address,” Matchett said. “We’re just not selling plants anymore.”
The business was founded by Marylou Baiata and run by her for 30 years until her death in 2014, after which it was run by her son Chris, who sold the business to Matchett in 2018.
“I’ve always loved the landscaping business,” Matchett said. He liked the scenery on the property, surrounded by majestic oaks, but Nature Scapes’ wooded seclusion and invisibility from the road soon worked against the prospects of the garden center.
“Location, location, location,” Matchett said. “The staff here is great, but this is no place for a retail business.”
According to Matchett, the majority of Nature Scapes’ income did not come from plant sales even before he purchased it from Chris Baiata.
“Some days there’d be two, maybe three people coming in,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of our business is landscaping, design, installation and maintenance.”
More people came to see the exotic birds in the Baiata Bird Sanctuary, he said, but even those will be taken to another sanctuary in DeLand. Matchett considered relocating the garden center, but “it’s hard to compete with Lowe’s and Home Depot.”
Nature Scapes held a clearance sale for multiple weeks to liquidate its stock of plants; around half were sold, and the rest will be used in landscaping projects. The garden center property will remain intact without its retail items, as God’s Family Church and Bible School plans to open Garden of Faith Preschool on it in early December.
Renovation is nearly complete inside what will be the preschool, installing walls and insulation into what was an open warehouse. It used to host an art collaborative masterminded by J.J. Graham, until disagreements with Chris Baiata led the former owner to evict Graham and shutter the collaborative. Graham has since returned to paint the preschools’ floor with playful splashes of color.
“The fact that he came back to paint those floors says a lot about him,” Matchett said.
He said the church also plans to purchase the rest of the surrounding property for a “Garden of Faith Village.”
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