Celebrating Over 68 Years

Dear Garden Friends

Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd. was established in 1955 by my parents.

Over the years the Artistic Family has continued with devotion to customers education, and advice.  We continue to produce beautiful spaces including patios, walkways, walls, lampposts, water runs and colourful garden beds to carry on the founders  legacy.  We also celebrate Mossy, our General Managers 33 years of devoted service to our clients, both commercial and residential and the efficiency of our operations.  Our goal is to help you recreate the Art of delightful outdoor living where you can sit, feast, enjoy, step out and live fully!  Summertime living at its best, laugh, play and feel joy. Be amazed! Be Artistic – inspiring Ottawa for over 68+ years.  We create beauty…you live it.

See you again soon

Eva Schmitz, President

A.L.D Company History

By Eckhart Schmitz

Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd.’s Founder Hans Juergen Eugene Schmitz, my father, was born to Marianne Hermine Suelzenfuss and Hans Ferdinand Schmitz in Wiesbaden, Germany on September 3, 1929.  On his 21st birthday (1950) he became engaged to his future wife Edeltraut Jacob, my mother, and completed his education in Landscape Architecture in Germany.   

As a young man my father cultivated vegetables at a Nursing/Retirement Home in Erbach, Germany along the Rhine River.  It was in Erbach that my father met our mother.  His careful and attentive nurturing of his crops ensuring the very best soil conditions and moisture resulted in the most bountiful harvests to serve the needs of the home and in fact a considerable surplus that was brought to market.  Soon the entire community of Erbach were cognizant and nourished by my father’s crops especially his prized tomatoes. 

In 1952 he decided to immigrate to Canada.  At the time of immigration, policies dictated that he had to complete one year as a farm laborer (near Merrickville, Ont.).  After he worked in Aylmer Quebec at Edgedale Nursery for the summer, he found fulltime employment at the Nickel Smelter in Sudbury.  It was only then that he could sponsor his financee to arrive from Germany.  They were married in Sudbury on June 29th 1954.  Their first child, Eva, my sister, was born in Sudbury in September 1955.

My father registered his company Artistic Landscape Design Ltd. in Sudbury in October 1955 and my parents and Eva moved to Ottawa to join his brother, also a Landscape Architect who was also engaged in the Ottawa community.  Early landscape construction had more possibilities in Ottawa than in Sudbury!!!  In the late 50’s and 60’s Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd. took part in annual displays at the exhibition at Landsdown Park in the Horticultural building and won many awards for design and execution.  Design and building of gardens was unheard of at that time in Ottawa. 

In those early days, work was directed from the home residence in Heron Park.  The first work vehicle, a VW convertible beetle with a small utility trailer.  During the winters My father worked at Camp Fortune Ski Hill and at Heggtveit Ski Shop on Queen Street.  By 1962 our family had expanded to four children (two girls and two boys).  My mother, while taking care of us children, was instrumental from the very beginning in working steadfast and diligently in support of my father’s enterprise. It was certainly a team effort. The Artistic Landscape Designs property on Bank Street was at first just rented, and then purchased by 1964.  It was a choice property of 5 ½ acres because it had the Sawmill Creek for irrigation.  Years of hard labor to clear it followed.   Cultivation of potatoes and vegetable crops to improve the soil conditions continued for years.  (Crops were donated to the Salvation Army).  Through the financial loan of a generous customer who believed in the future of Artistic Landscape Designs, the company was able to obtain the first orders for landscape supplies. 

By spring 1965, retail sales started at Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd. and the show garden was in its initial stages.  Nursery stock, trees and perennials were grown and tended.

“Potted plants” were offered to the public – a novel idea at 50 cents extra to allow people to plant out of season (mid-summer for example).  The”myth” had still not died, that plants could be planted anytime other than spring or fall.  The first shipment of ornamental plants arrived from Sheridan Nursery from Toronto in spring of 1965. Buildings were erected; offices and procedures were developed.  Consultations and garden advice had become a significant part of the service given to the general public.

The first catalogue was issued in 1965; it was a family affair.  It was researched, written and typed by my mother, printed on a “Gestetner”(printing press) by my father, and then assembled and stapled by an assembly line of us kids.  My father actually drove us to new developments to hand deliver door to door!

Business trips became combined family trips.  For visits to the Botanical Gardens, the Experimental Farm and customer homes, (for consultation) we children came along.  Trips to pick up and load material were common, and often two trucks were used, my father in one and my mother in another.

Since the nursery property started in a farm-like environment, our family loved to keep many pets and farm animals: as well as dogs and cats, there were geese, chickens, monkeys, raccoons, birds and a pig named Rooty.  This is something that many of our early customers would remember.  (See Childhood Memories, Growing up as A.L.D.).  By the spring of 1965 we also had two brown VW trucks for our landscaping crews and for the use of picking up products for the nursery, for example Kingston for sandstone and Toronto and Montreal for nursery stock.

From the mid 50’s our European stonemasons produced walls, posts, patios and steps according to Mr. Schmitz’s design under his direct supervision.  Much wrought iron was also designed and included in projects from the early 50’s and 60’s and onward.

In the mid 70’s we had retail staff and Eva, after receiving further education in Germany, started to work for the company full time, while the the rest of us children worked part time in their our teenage years.  My brother, Hans Juergen Jr., started full time in 1979 after his apprenticeship and I started full time in the early 80’s.  The landscape department grew.  In September 1982, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, exceptionally large and benign, which had grown slowly over a period of approximately 30 years.  Surgery to remove it was life threatening but, ultimately, very successful.  A long convalescence followed during which he couldn’t talk or walk.  Recovery was miraculously complete by the spring of 1983.  He resumed consultations and designing gardens for many more years until 2004.  On May 1st 1984, a major fire destroyed our office buildings.  It was a wood structure and the fire officials discovered that the cause was electrical wiring that had been chewed by rodents.  We immediately erected temporary facilities the next day in construction trailers.  We built our current building and moved from trailers into the new building one year later, in May 1985. We hired Mossy Fallah in Spring of 1984.  He is still with us, in his capacity of General Manager, and takes care of most daily operations including retail and trade sales.

By the 90’s we were very busy with installations for ‘outdoor living’.  We were teaching, consulting, speaking and many new varieties of plants, paving stones, garden walls and garden accessories were introduced.

By 2000 and onward, gardening is continuing to be immensely popular.  ‘Outdoor living’ has become trendy and desirable.

In one of our earliest Catalogues my father wrote:

“Gardening as we see it is a great teacher in skills and knowledge but more so in virtues, thus, gardening employs all capacities of man.  A garden reveals more than most people are aware, the character of its owner.  Without sincerity, a searching mind and devotion, one will not be able to develop a garden to beauty and maturity.  Garden culture is not a luxurious item of the fashion world but an articulate effort to fulfill part of the innermost supposition!

A Garden is a refuge where one can forget, at least for some time, the worries of ongoing instability of world peace and stress from daily life.

We will continue to provide the total gardening experience supplying consultation designing gardens, construction of gardens, retailing of all gardening goods, sales to trades, diagnostic deficiencies, diseases and tests, appraisals, teaching, guest speaking and charity work.

We believe our mission statement is clearly stated in our company name”. 

Gardening is a refuge, where one can forget, at least for some time, the worries of ongoing instability of world peace and stress from daily life.” 

Our founder, my father, H.J. Schmitz Sr. passed away November 17, 2011.  He is survived by his devoted and loving wife, my mother, his four children, My sister Eva, my sister Edel, my brother Hans J. Jr, and my myself, along with twelve grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

My Father’s life philosophy can best be expressed in a quotation by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “I know well enough that one does not receive thanks for what was made possible after the impossible was demanded – still, however, I will not refrain from undertaking the best I can!”

It is this guiding philosophy that we carry forward in continuing his legacy.

Indeed, it gives me pause to reflect, that it is, in principle, this sort of pioneering spirit and philosophy that was the foundation of all our forefathers, from all their origins, that built the foundations of this great country. We have been favoured  with great opportunities made possible by the sacrifices of those that came before us and persevered through difficult times when the country was young and in its development stages .  It is in this spirit that we must all build on for our future generations to follow. My father was a pioneer in his field as he made it his task to develop artistry and cultural expression in garden landscapes for the community in Ottawa. It is our task to carry on where he left off.

Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd. has continued to perfect education to clients, offering workshops, teaching at colleges, speaking at community venues and supporting Ottawa charity groups.  We are involved in researching and growing newer, finer perennials, (some rare and unusual) and testing shrubs and trees for hardiness continues (before releasing to the public).  The Landscape Department continues the “creation of the beautiful”, with our dedicated staff many who have been with us 30 years and counting.  The garden maintenance department has grown as has the size of the stone yard as people increasingly desire sitting areas in their yards, with ponds and water runs.  Decorating the garden spaces has become very popular (see Boutique).  Our trades’ customers are increasingly at home at Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd.   In 2005 Artistic’s leadership was passed on to Eva and myself.  We have continued to thrive and grow, obviously inheriting the Schmitz gene of “strong sense of duty” instilled by my parents.

In 2012 we finally broke ground and increased the garden center area with a large airy greenhouse; a new space 5,000 square feet. Opening ceremonies were held in June 2013 and ribbon cutting by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.  The third generation Schmitz clan is growing up and joining the work force.  We also celebrate many staff members reaching 25 years of service (at least 10 in the year 2012).  Many of our clients are repeat customers, as are their relatives and children. 

The trend towards outdoor living has grown up to be sophisticated, low maintenance, however intriguing and unique as everyone adds his special feature to their glorious new garden!  We have added a Garden Boutique(managed by Elise Schmitz)of 2,600 square feet and, new in 2015, we have added a Design Studio (developed and operated by Mary-Anne and Engelina Schmitz) Many additional classes and workshops have been added in our Gingko Room.  The Garden Center and Stone Yard are in the capable hands of Mossy (Mostafa Fallah) now with us in his 30th year at Artistic.  My mother is also still seen and heard giving her expert advice. People surely remember her!  In 2015 we look forward to serving all new and experienced gardeners at Artistic Landscape Designs Ltd. now in its 65th year.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the long term A.L.D. Staff – 10 years to 31 years of excellent service:

  • George Findley
  • Thavone Bovalavong
  • Roka Hyng
  • Yon Preap
  • Mark Weisenberg
  • Robert Wolodarski
  • Keith Presley
  • John Evans
  • Mostafa Fallah
  • Hang Hor Chhor
  • David Carson
  • Chean Ros
  • Than Ros
  • Edel Schmitz
  • Daniel Eastman
  • Dariusz Jakubaszek
  • Findbar Mitchel
  • Krystyna Milosek
  • Elaine Stewart
  • Lysa Swim
  • Michael Cahill
  • Wayne Waddell
  • Randy Williams
  • Bran Jose Moreira
  • Ted Glaza
  • James Hayes
  • Wayne Hayes
  • Derek Donaldson
  • Dan Plunkett
  • Jason Forward
  • Claire Glendinning
  • Darin Ung

Also a hearty thank you to our wonderful suppliers of many years:

  • GBD Gardening by Design
  • Peter Kathmann Construction
  • Greenscape
  • Brenning Paving
  • Local Paving 
  • Permacon Landscape Products
  • Techo-Bloc
  • Banas Stones
  • Mori Nursery
  • Sheridan Nursery
  • Braun Nursery
  • Heritage Nursery
  • Greely Sand and Gravel
  • Sweet Sand and Gravel
  • Gro-Bark
  • Greenway Turf
  • Greenstar Plant Products
  • Ridgecraft Garden Products
  • Lechuza
  • Leitrim Ready Mix Concrete

Companies we work closely with(affiliate companies):

  • Lanark Cedar
  • Oakwood Renovations
  • McGee Fencing
  • Kemptville Pool and Spa
  • Mermaid Pools

With our dedicated staff, our valued suppliers and affiliated firms, we look toward  the future in serving you in our very best capacities. We look forward  to assisting you in all aspects of garden/ landscape design and construction  as well as  garden maintenance in order that you may create  your very own “Outdoor Living  Retreat” in which to relax and enjoy with family and friends.

“A garden is a friend that you can visit any time.” – unknown author 

With my Kindest Regards,

Eckhart Schmitz, CEO, Director of Operations

Childhood Memories: Growing up at A.L.D.  

As children we can recall growing up in a very kind and tolerant environment.  We were allowed completely free roaming privileges at our beloved nursery.  We can clearly remember when a fresh load of top soil or sand was delivered, we immediately claimed a side of the pile and started to build a small landscape setting, complete with small roads and yards with small houses.  Of course we populated the sites with small twigs for trees and stones and gravel for the roads and walkways.  Small ponds would require scraps of plastic to help hold water.  We would proudly develop the whole top pile and then go to fetch Mama and Papa to come see our creation.  So much for the much needed and expensive screened top soil!  My father would often come to see our creation with caring observation.  My mother would have to be the one to demand the pile be restored to a usable condition.

To continue along this tolerance theme we always had a multitude of pets of all kinds.  Of course, my father and mother both allowed us to have conventional pets, but also special pets that nobody else could have.  Cats, dogs, chickens, geese, lambs (that became sheep), racoons (lots of them), monkeys and a pot belly pig. Three of the racoons were brought to us as babies (three of them newborn).   Some of these critters needed heated protection at home.  You can imagine the tolerance and patience both Father and Mother had to have.  All of us kids loved these animals dearly.  I know that this tolerance allowed us to learn a lot about the nature of life and how it needs to be tended to.  “Pflegen” (intensive care) was a concept we were acquainted with from an early age.

As we became older…………teenagers…………, the normal challenges to be steered in the correct path became apparent.  As individuals we were easily permitted to pursue dreams and aspirations as we saw fit.  We were allowed to travel at will.  Not that much financial assistance was available, because times were tough and yet we had no expectations.  We were taught that hard consistent work would eventually provide what we needed.  Much of our knowledge and retail experience was gleaned early on by listening to our Mother serve clients in the store and after we were then able to find and show the plants. 

Eva Schmitz remembers leading customers to the plants they had requested to see, on route she would read up information in the A.L.D. descriptive catalogue by the age of 10.   She knew the latin names of thousands of plants by her early teens.  She loved this field early on!

Hans Jr. recalls getting our all important drivers license at 16, this being the middle of October, when things would typically wind down.  He had this burning desire to experience a road trip of some sort.  Well, we had this new large 5 ton truck and Hans decided we needed stone materials for landscape work.  We needed to bring a load in, from of all places, St. Catherine’s  Ontario.  Yes, straight down the 401, through Toronto, and pick a load of stone we would have needed the following spring.  What an experience.

Our mother always had our father decide what was needed in this regard.  But we clearly realized that our father allowed us this incredible freedom to learn and experience life and all of its challenges.  He fostered and knew we needed heightened levels of motivation, combined with the basic lessons of life that we had acquired, to allow us to grow into caring individual human beings.  We really thank him and my mother for this! 

Our mother is an Icon in Ottawa, easily recognized, loved (and sometimes feared) by her clients for the devotion to the care of plant material.  Now, also manifest in his children, is, our father’s strong sense of duty.  This will, we are certain, deeply enrich our purpose in life.  We remember the relentless occupation of watering our living plants at the nursery. 

This manual task of pulling hoses, setting up sprinklers, tending to the pumps, drawing water from our precious creek, seemed to us, all consuming and maybe at time fanatic.  My father would check the fringes of the sprinkled areas to see that no plants “suffered dryness”.  It must be noted, that the concern for the plant’s welfare was of much greater concern than their financial value.  My father possessed a delicious sense of humor, for example, when occasionally enlisted by clients to help them pick out a good plant in the nursery, he’d choose the obvious runt in the line-up – the puzzled customer would object and ask….why this one it looks weak! Precisely…he would reply with a serious demeanor….that’s why we need to get this one a good home right away!  Customers visiting us in the spring with a plant that appeared not to have survived an Ottawa winter, where upon my father, in appropriate circumstances exclaimed, “ we can sell you a cross for this poor plant”.  In bewilderment, a customer would ask where they were located.

And if our mother was nearby, she would listen in and take command of the plant inspection to find evidence of whether or not, life was still present in the now bare rooted plant.  Often customers were speedily sent home to replant a just dormant specimen.  Our father relished in the preservation of plants (as mentioned by my brother about the concept of “Pflegen”  loving nurturing and compassionate care).

Another example of our father’s humor was the Staff and payday….Every Thursday afternoon the staff would line up to see him in his office.  He would say in mock horror “what again, another cheque…are you sure you worked hard enough this week”?  Or he would say halfway through…come back tomorrow I’ve signed enough today!

We recall the numerous time we sat in our VW transporter truck to go home, well after dark, waiting for Papa to finish these chores.  Sometimes a quick last customer visit in Kanata, would be included.  Since our trucks never had the luxury of a radio, my mother would sing to us, or if we waited alone, a little teasing and game playing would occur.

My parents loved classical music…even our pet racoons loved classical music…on our family outings to the Montreal  Botanical Gardens in the back of the Mercedes they would be very quiet!  Our father endured the “animal” chaos in a pleasant, calm way—-as our monkey would hit the seed racks in search of sunflower seeds and proceed to spread them throughout the grounds.  Our elegant father whose family owned large textile factories for generations in Germany pre-war, took all that in stride with his measured, peaceful bearing.  Oh how we have absorbed the beauty of your soul each in our own ways…We proudly carry on what you created!

We deeply miss our father and his wholesome goodness.  Now our focus will be to console our mother, who has lost not only her soul mate but an exceedingly good person.  It is our duty to carry on with a meaningful existence that will embody the legacy my father has left.   Our mother continues to work diligently on classifying and documenting plant material and on plant care sheets.

Technology has at once unbridled a plethora of new possibilities to advance the physical endeavors of man however it may be said that it has diminished the soulfulness of our existence.  Deep philosophical re-atunement is in order.  This is the imperative that our father contemplated all his life. 

This “Pflegen” which translated has a composite meaning of “loving nurturing and compassionate care” was a conviction to nurture and care of not only fellow humans but also all plants and all animals.

His landscape designs were a philosophical statement in which the individuality of each plant was placed into the most appropriate setting to allow its integral beauty to flourish, the placement of each stone to emphasize texture and depth and the energetic flow of water was blended into a synchronized harmonious whole that was greater than its parts.  A splendid feast for our humanly senses to further our spiritual well being. 

Our father and mother were fully and continuously cognizant of their place in the larger scheme.  They had an unfailing presence of mind.

Our parents believed that all tasks performed should be carried out with a deliberate intent to serve the greater good not only for humanity but for all of creation.  Even the sweeping of a floor was an expression of love for humanity.  The greatest and noblest of all undertakings is in the farming of crops and husbandry of livestock as it serves to nourish and sustain the community of people.

Our children (third generation) are now becoming active at A.L.D.  We all continue to apply ourselves to the best of our capacities, Thank You,

The Schmitz clan, second generation

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