Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ortega Florist Puts His Skills to Use to Benefit Community

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ortega Florist Puts His Skills to Use to Benefit Community

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY MARAGHY

His name matches his profession and his deeds mirror his heart, say clients and friends of Bill Gardner of Gardners Florist in Ortega.

"He is a giver, and a modest man," said Karen Wolfson, who added that the Jacksonville native and businessman has donated flower arrangements for years for events at Wolfson Children's Hospital, which is named for her husband's grandfather.

"He has a heart for children. He's just a great guy."

And he is the ultimate entertainment specialist, they said.

"He could put on a party for the Queen of England and she'd be pleased," said client Helen Lane of Ortega. "He's an artist, a decorator, a party planner. He's good-natured and cooperative. I would recommend him to anyone."

Born in San Marco, the 47-year-old Gardner said he always loved plants, flowers and entertaining. His cell phone ring tone is a cricket chirping.

Gardner was introduced to the floral business when he helped out at a friend's florist shop in Washington, D.C. At the time, Gardner was a medic in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Andrews Air Force Base. The D.C. shop's clients included First Lady Nancy Reagan, the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist George Will, investigative journalist Kitty Kelley and other dignitaries.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Gardner managed Richard's, a premier floral shop in Avondale on St. Johns Avenue, where Underwoods jewelry now stands.

For a time Gardner studied voice, and he remains a supporter of the arts in the Jacksonville area, including the Chamber Music Society of the Good Shepherd, the Friday Musicale, Jacksonville Symphony Guild, the Beaches Fine Arts and other organizations.

About seven years ago, he opened his own shop in leased space in the historic Village Store building in Ortega Village. He specializes in traditional and English garden-style flowers. …

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