PAULA & MATTHEW
Creative Siblings with a Vision
Upstate New Yorkers by nature. Plant, design, and creatives by nurture. These two grew up together, went on to build their lives apart, and were brought back together over the love of a small, urban oasis called Walther Gardens.
Paula became a seamstress and homemaker with a love of quilting and a head for decor and gift creation. Matthew's education and interests lie in agriculture and horticulture. He traveled the globe during his USDA position, and his "last tour of duty" in Washington DC lead him to discover Baltimore.
OUR PATHS LED TO WALTHER GARDENS
Born and raised in Elma, New York, a small country town southeast of Buffalo.
I was the middle child of an older sister, Paula and a younger brother Timothy. It was this countryside upbringing that at a very young age I had found an appreciation for nature, food, spirituality, all things living and most of all, being an explorer.
Even though we were raised with what seemed like constant money worries, my world was filled with nothing but joy. I can vaguely remember the troubling times but forever remember things like laying on a freshly cut grass looking at the white billowy clouds, smelling and curling up under clean sheets on my bed, enjoy seeing my father cooking pork chops and turkeys on his handmade grill using his special marinade and eating freshly canned peaches. Most memorable was my mother’s evening dinner meals complete with a dessert. They were 5-star meals served at home.
I was fortunate to put myself through school, attending SUNY - Alfred State College (Alfred, New York) and later Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) where I received an Associate degree in Agronomy with a minor in Soil Science and I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science majoring in Vegetable and Small Fruit Production.
My career started at the ripe old age of 13 at a local greenhouse operation where I
worked until I graduated from college. Never knowing where the notion come from, my brain “was a sponge” and I wanted to learn everything, and anything related to agriculture.
My journey took me to New York City working as a in-house salesman for a large horticultural supply company. Feeling entrepreneurial, I then moved back to Buffalo to start my own greenhouse business. A few years later, I was off to south Florida to become an Agricultural Products Specialist for the State of Florida and then finally an inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). There I stayed 26 years working primarily with pest and disease interception at ports of entry throughout the US. Throughout my career with the USDA, I have been fortunate to travel overseas to places such as Afghanistan, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Morocco, and South Africa just to name a few. I assisted my country counterparts with setting up structured phytosanitary regulatory programs for their agricultural products moving within and outside their countries to better themselves in domestic and international trade.
Finding myself working in Washington DC, settling in Baltimore and understanding that this would be my last official move and posting with the USDA, I stumbled upon a decrepit old nursery called Walther Gardens. Call it luck or circumstance, I think it was looking for me!
In 2014, I had a vision, a drive, a need to open another chapter in my life and a need to rebuild and bring back to life this property. I bought the property and began immediately changing its course in history.
Born in Gardenville, NY, raised in Elma, NY. Oldest of 3: 2 brothers, Matthew, and Timothy. Raised in a household with a carpenter father and top notch “Domestic Engineer”mother who were both very hardworking. My childhood memories include our old root cellar in the basement which was always filled to the brim with seasonal edibles such as assorted fruit, pickles, sauerkraut, jellies, and jams; flowers and vegetables planted meticulously in an amazingly well-kept space that were used daily for our evening meals; appreciation of nature, our surroundings and God’s ever-present goodness (Sunday dinners were always a must.)
At the age of 10, my interest in sewing peaked, so my mother enrolled me in the local 4-H chapter where I learned the foundation for my passion. This passion led me to pursue fashion design at the University of New Haven, CT. Fond memories of making my extra school cash by taking my weekly train trip into NYC, learning clothing alteration and window dressing at Macy’s and Gimbels.
I returned home at which time I worked full time at a local fabric retailer then to a private design studio and helped with the choirs at home. I remember both my parents working hard to be able to send their 3 children to private elementary and high school education.
I continued with my passion for textiles, working in bridal design, textile restoration and the production of a children’s clothing line.
I was recognized by the Bernina Sewing Co. in my 30’s as their 1st Artist… "In the Portrait of the Artist" campaign. A program showcasing young talent in the fashion industry.
From the age of 15, I worked full and part time positions in the fabric industry, along with designing independently. Developing my love for the restoration and preservation of antique/vintage textiles. As my love grew also did my journey, joining many groups, asking many questions, and learning the olde time organic processes of cleaning/restoration.
I am a proud mother of 2 beautiful children, both of which are now educated professionals and have successful careers.
Being asked by my brother Matthew in 2014 to help work on a "small" project together within the City of Baltimore, it was perfect timing in my life. New Life, New Beginning. The revival of Walther Gardens is my passion as well as my love of nature, beauty, God’s goodness, preservation, and creativity.