Paul Vanzetta and family. LEFT: Paul on World Naked Gardening Day.
Paul Vanzetta and family. LEFT: Paul on World Naked Gardening Day. Joy Butler

Meet the green-thumbed family behind 30 years of business

On the day that I meet Paul Vanzetta and his family at their garden nursery and landscape supplies business on Scrub Hill Road, an image of my favourite comedian, the late Robin Williams comes to mind. Paul's blue eyes twinkle with mischief and he talks with an effortless ease of a man who loves people. Now before I take you for a ride along the long track of careers in which this people loving Paul has mastered, I must explain my Robin Williams reference.

I'm standing in the middle of a garden nursery, plants, trees and foliage surround me and so does the clan, wife Glenys, sons Dale and Jamie, joined by Dale's wife Kimberly who's just done the school run and delivers the bouncing nine-year-old Oliver and inimitable Isabella, a very sweet seven-year-old.

They are excited to see each other and I'm excited to meet them. There is an effervescence in the air. It's as if the cold winter weather has turned warm and we're sizzling into another season. The William's quote leaps forth. 'Spring is nature's way of saying, Let's Party!' It seems like the Vanzetta's do every day - and today I'm invited!

As I ponder this joyfulness I wonder. Is it that growing plants is good for the soul?

Most gardeners I speak to are pretty-happy people. Nothing like getting your hands dirty and getting back to nature; but I think there is something quite unique about Paul, so I dig a little deeper and fire up the locomotive. Come along for the journey. It's sure to be a fun ride.

Paul Vanzetta started out as a bookkeeper and landscaper in Shepparton in Victoria. His wife Glenys' parents owned a block of land in Hervey Bay and the family often holidayed on Fraser Island during the seventies and decided to make the switch north.

"We made a break and came up for a week's holiday, bought a shop and a house, went back to Victoria and a month later we were at the shop," Paul said.

It was the beginning of their business and love affair with the Fraser Coast which would see their family set down considerable roots in the community. Paul briefly outlines the next few business deals, amongst pizza flipping at Toto's Pizza Parlour in honour of his Italian heritage.

"It was called the Pialba Sandwich Bar and it is now the Chocolatier in Main Street. We had the shop for probably 18 months and sold it prior to the Pialba Shopping Centre opening. I then worked part-time for Pialba Mitre Ten. I was there for six months but had I always worked for myself.

We bought a café in Maryborough in 1989 which was called the Primrose Café in Kent Street, which was one of the ones that burnt down many years later. We had that for three years and I decided it was time to start landscaping."

It didn't take long before the experienced landscaper was back doing the job that he loved.

"I put one ad in the Chronicle, and I started landscaping and paving in Maryborough. I worked 19 years in Maryborough and surrounds doing landscaping and paving, trading under my own name.

I'd always been dealing with Granville plant nursery when landscaping in Maryborough and had a good relationship with Kevin the owner. When the opportunity came to purchase it, I was all in.

In 2002 we bought Granville Nursery and while we were there, and after consulting with Dale who was working with MBO, we also purchased Daniell's Nursery from Sandra the owner. I asked him whether he would run it for me in 2004. He was 28 at the time. He said yes," Paul said.

Over the following nine years, between 2007 and 2016 they sold the Granville nursery, and purchased the Airport nursery, until finally closing its doors and moving everything to the current site and rebranding Daniell's Nursery, to the more apt and marketable Hervey Bay Garden Centre.

Now there must be something about a family who works and plays together - even Jamie gave up a promising career at Woolworths to be a part of the family business. And it's paying off in smiles as wide and mischievous as his Dad's. Dale tells me it's loving what you do which is most important.

"Dad loves the landscaping. It's what he's always done. From when I was a baby, he was already doing it back then. He did cafe thing and then happened to lead full circle back to landscaping."


World Naked Garden Day
World Naked Garden Day Dale Vanzetta

Kimberly is currently Head of Department at Urangan State High School. She immersed herself in the business when she and Dale were co-owners and lived on site for several years when the children were young.

For these happy gardeners, living in amongst leafy green foliage may well be the precursor which has them in touch with nature and being very natural themselves, as it's not uncommon for the men to drop their drawers in public, often for a good cause. Paul did for the front cover of The Chronicle for a Bachelor & Spinster's Ball promotion back when they had the cafe.

And it's how Dale met Kimberly. Attending a Hen's Night and Dale crosses Hoolihan's threshold to be mobbed by a flock of cackling hens who wanted his red underwear to complete the bride-to-be's playlist. Of course he obliged to the horror of Kimberly. He's that sort of guy and he assured me they were brand new.

His latest liberation has seen his 'altogether' grace social Facebook pages for the past two years as the local Naked Gardener for the annual Nude Gardening Day. All I can say is 'what a champion!'

Local gardeners have lovingly toiled, sowed seeds, grafted cuttings and tilled winter sods all in readiness for the Maryborough Open Gardens.

Held on Sunday September 22 hundreds of visitors will be granted entry into private gardens and I bet many of those gardens have something from a nursery which the Vanzetta's either once owned or currently inhabit.

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