Dory’s Gardens

by Nancy Lamar

The slogan for Dory’s Gardens is “Inspiration Awaits Beyond the Lavender Gate.”  Yes, inspiration awaits in abundance, as does a garden center filled with plants, garden art and more, an outdoor party room, a gift shop, a children’s play area, a sanctuary of peace, a place of community…oh, and chickens. Therapy chickens to be exact.

Dory’s Gardens is unique, creative, and welcoming, an extension of its owner, Dory Hersey. Behind her home in the Historic Brick Street District of Tyler, Dory has created a business that is reflective of her own bountiful creativity, her knowledge and experience in horticulture and landscape design, and her embracing, cheerful personality.

For decades, Dory was in the landscape business, what she calls “the mow, edge and blow” business. She often helped landscape clients with ideas for plantings and design of their gardens. Eventually she gave up the lawn maintenance end of the business to specialize in landscape design and installation. With a friend, Dory opened the first Dory’s Gardens, a combination gift and garden shop in an alleyway behind other shops in the Historic Brick Street District. Nine years ago, when the chance came to buy the property that is now her home and Dory’s Gardens, Dory jumped at the chance. “It was perfect for me. A beautiful old home, and a blank slate of a large backyard with good bones. And it was already zoned for small business!”

As one walks through the lavender gate at the entrance to Dory’s Gardens, pathways wind through the backyard, layered with unique perennial and seasonal plants, pottery, twinkling windchimes and garden art. There is nothing formal here! Painted bricks, mosaics, found objects, and musical fountains galore inspire visitors to think outside traditional garden design. Patios with bright umbrella- covered tables and comfortable chairs invite visitors to sit and soak up the beauty and ideas around them.

Dory’s Gardens’ outdoor Garden Tea Room is available to host parties of all kinds, including garden club meetings, birthday parties and tea parties for all ages, complete with tea, china, and fancy hats supplied by Dory. The adjacent play area is a favorite of little visitors and mothers who gather in the garden for play dates with their children.

An indoor boutique offers a selection of houseplants, original nature photography, jewelry, tea and art by Dory and others. Monthly garden-themed craft classes are offered either inside or out, depending on the weather.

As beautiful, whimsical, and inspirational as it is, Dory’s Gardens is a business, and a highly recognized one at that. The Texas Nursery and Landscape Association awarded its Gold Star Award to Dory’s Gardens in 2022, naming it one of the best garden centers in Texas. But Dory’s Gardens is more than a business. Providing a hospitable and peaceful place, connecting with customers, and valuing each person who visits is the foremost purpose of Dory’s Gardens. “This place is such a gift from God, and I want to share it with as many people as possible,” says Dory.

“Creating a garden is an art, an act of love,” Dory adds. “A garden can be a peaceful place to meditate, to enjoy God’s beauty and abundance, to provide a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies, food for the table, to enhance your home and give health to your body.”

And about the chickens. Six very pampered chickens reside in Dory’s Gardens, spending evenings in their decorated coop and days in their special Chicken Cabana. The chickens are available for a hug, which Dory asserts is the best therapy in the world, as documented in the “Hen Hugger Hall of Fame” on the Dory’s Gardens Instagram page.

Dory still has a hand in the landscape business, most recently doing the landscape design for the West Oak Townhomes in downtown Tyler, developed by her son, Will Hersey. But Dory’s Gardens and her relationships with her garden visitors are the most important things to Dory at this time in her life. “I’ve met people from all over the world in the Gardens,” says Dory. “It’s a joy to get to know every visitor, to find out a little about their needs, their gardening styles. Sometimes there are plants I can suggest, sometimes I can walk them through their garden ideas. Most of all I want to offer a space for community, peace, and creativity.”

Dory’s Gardens is located at 600 West Rusk Street in Tyler. The garden is open Wednesday through Saturday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information visit or call 903-330-4663.