Meet The Wilcox Nursery & Landscape Team
The Man Behind The Plants:
In 1977, as an eager young adult settling into a vision of work in horticulture and landscape design at Wilcox Nursery, I would hike into local park trails and woods where I would admire the beauty of native plants like Redbay, Marlberry, Wild Coffee, native ferns, wildflowers, and natural diversity. I often wondered why the alluring plants that I would see in our wild places were not being used by home gardeners and landscape professionals. My observations seem to belie the old adage that the ‘grass is greener on the other side of the fence’ as is the usual in the homogeneous landscape plant choices commonly seen from all over the world. After collecting seed and growing some of these beautiful native plants from our ‘own backyard’; I found myself not fully understanding how to market these plants that I was experimenting with at the nursery.
My increasing drive to know more about the botanical bounty in our local woods drew me to connect with the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. The discovery of this resource and the St. Petersburg Audubon Society, allowed me to understand the connection of native plants to pollinators, songbirds, and the whole scope of wildlife that depend on and are sustained by their interrelationships. My mentors in the Florida Native Plant Society taught me important concepts, such as what species of butterfly or songbird uses a particular species of plant along with the ecology of the plants, plant habitats, and wildlife. This new gain in understanding of the web of life aided me to promote the native plants that I had previously struggled in promoting on their beauty alone.
I fully understand how important it is to use native plants for a healthy, dynamic garden and environment. Plants native to a location express the uniqueness of that locality; help reduce fertilizer, pesticide use, and subsequent pollution. With the mantra of the ‘right plant, right place’, we can reduce the need for using our diminishing precious water resources. I truly believe that people need to move away from the ‘third world’ concept that our natural areas as well as our own yards as habitat are expendable. We need to not see our yards from a pure vanity perspective, but allow them to reflect ‘real Florida’ or La Florida, land of flowers (named for our native plants and natural areas), with plants that help maintain other species including pollinators, our valuable water resources, and the delicate web of life that keeps our own species viable.
After my years in visual arts and business school with degrees from Florida State University, the University of South Florida, and various continuing education classes, as well as my upbringing in an agricultural / horticultural family, I felt my creativity was best expressed in designing more natural models for landscapes and promoting the beautiful and vital plants native to Florida.
In my pre-adult years, I developed a love of marine biology, botany, and the natural environment in southwest Florida. I served on advanced biology committees on projects developing specimen collections for a new high school biology department as well as producing a representative conchology collection of southwest Florida. Additionally, a nurturing family served me well in finding my passion in promoting and educating people about the ‘Real Florida’ and the relationship with the landscapes that we interact with daily in our homes and businesses.
The continual deterioration of natural areas, wildlife species decline along with ever encroaching invasive species of animals, plants and diseases that I have seen in my life time are very alarming. Please join us as a model for the new age of environmental responsibility and let us help you ‘plant the real Florida’.
Bruce K. Turley
Wilcox Nursery and Landscape
Zack Pitchford was born and raised in Florida, growing up an avid outdoorsman. In 2006, Zack began working at the landscape and nursery industry at Becket Lake Nursery and then Wilcox Nursery before graduating from the University of Florida in 2012. He majored in Landscape and Nursery Management with a minor in Landscape Architecture. Zack’s love for natural Florida has fueled his desire to bring that native beauty to each client’s unique landscapes, through design.
In a short first year as a designer for Wilcox Nursery, Zack had one fully native landscape shown on the Florida Native Landscape Tour, and has ambitions to add more each year. Zack is certified in Best Management Practices from the University of Florida (BMP), pursuing a Florida Naturalist Certification and ISA certification, and is a member of the Pinellas Chapter Florida Native Plant Society. Zack strives to create enduring landscapes through design for each unique client and the unique landscapes they reside in.
Stoneshovel designs is the brainchild of Arnold Rutkis. He likes to approach every project from a fresh perspective whether it’s adding to an existing landscape, introducing edible landscape elements into a garden, or creating a unique and native landscape.
Arnold is passionate about the outdoors and finding a personal connection to the place he calls home, whether that be the Pacific Northwest, New England, central south Alabama or the deep south of Florida.
He fuses his myriad of life and work experiences into an aesthetic that is playful, expressive, refined and bracketed by a continual need to gain practical knowledge in his field. He draws on inspiration from time spent in the Connecticut countryside, traveling, and creating urban renewal projects and gardens.
His work with the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham Southern College’s Ecoscape program designing and building sustainable landscapes with a focus on native plants helped shape his aesthetic and problem solving skills while creating community green spaces and protecting wildlife habitat. Arnold is certified in Best Management Practices from the University of Florida.(BMP)
Arnold has explored the intersection of human culture with the natural landscape by receiving both a BFA from University of Connecticut and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans. His experience sculpting large- and small-scale constructions has enabled him to visualize each finished landscape; thereby, creating something extraordinary with each project.
Growing up helping his father dry stack Pennsylvania sandstone by their small lake cottage impressed upon him the value of hard work, attention to detail and the satisfaction of a job well done. He brings this same pragmatic approach to each project and strives to make each his best.
Paul Meyers was born and raised in Johnstown, PA, a small town in the western mountains close to Pittsburgh. As a young teenager, Paul started to develop an interest in architecture and would often spend time studying home blueprints from magazines. Eventually, he started doing his own drafting and designing of home layouts and how they connected to the outdoor spaces associated with them. This eventually led to Paul applying to the architecture program at Penn State University with dreams of becoming an architect. During his freshman year he took a class on the history of Landscape Architecture and fell in love with the idea of designing outdoor spaces and how they related to the built world of architecture. This was when he decided to become a Landscape Architect instead!
Upon graduating from Penn State with a Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture, Paul moved to the deep, rich, historical city of our Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC. He found the exciting world of residential landscape design while employed at his first job working as a draftsman/ apprentice with a landscape design firm. After working with this company for only a few short years, he took the exciting leap and went into business on his own. In March, 2004 he started PM Garden Design Inc.; where he specialized in residential landscape design and; installation.
For 12 years, PM Garden Design grew and became one of the leading design firms in the Washington Metropolitan Area. He gained experience in designing, computer drafting, project management, crew supervision and client relations. During this time he was not only designing and supervising his own projects, he was also designing and collaborating with 5 other leading landscape firms in the area!
After vacationing multiple times in Florida, Paul became interested in expanding his design knowledge to include the exciting world of tropical plants! Paul took yet another exciting leap and relocated to the Tampa Bay area. His passion for creating outdoor garden rooms and building a better connection between the home and the landscape is now expanded to the native plants of Florida. He greatly enjoys the transformation of outdoor spaces to beautiful, relaxing private gardens that meet individual client needs. He is excited to be part of the Wilcox team where native plants not only play a part in beautifying our outdoor spaces, but also creates a better habitat for Florida wildlife!
Let us help you with your next landscape project. The creation of a beautiful and enduring landscape can create a great sense of peace and contentment. Let us work together to build your vision for your sense of place, for you to enjoy for many years to come. Look no further and get started today by calling us at 727.219.9549 or fill out our online form to schedule your design consultation.