Mom, Gardener, Owner Of Landscape Company
– Tribute to Moms –
By Larry Atseff
here has never been a better first name for a female owner of a landscape company than Tillie. Tillie was born into a family of landscapers. Her grandfather, Carl Bruss and father Bill Bruss have been in the business since Carl started his nursery and landscaping company in 1952. Apparently, Bill hoped by naming his daughter Tillie, perhaps she would follow suit. She did: “As a teen, I worked through school at The Planter’s Palette, in Winfield. This cultivated my love for perennials, perennial gardens and gardening in general. From there I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design. She joined the family business in 1999, the only woman on staff. “I got plenty of practical experience, learned how to create beautiful landscape and garden designs and I developed a knack for listening. Instead of taking the easy way and recommending ‘just tear it all out’, and imposing a design, I decided I would take another approach and listen carefully to a client’s ideas, and use the knowledge and ideas from myself and my team to come back with a more thoughtful design.” “It is pretty rewarding when I show people my recommendations and ask, ‘Is this what you had in mind?’” She laughs and says, “The response invariably is ‘This is so much more than I imagined’”. With Tillie, so much more can also mean beautiful gardens. She adds, “A lot of people are into gardening, and I especially like to help them with a garden they will really enjoy, whether it is a flower garden, a vegetable garden, a rock garden, or a display of plantings.” After 17 several years in the family business, she decided to start on her own in 2017 with Tillie Bruss Landscapes. Slowly and surely, mostly through referrals, her business grew. Then, about three years ago, Jane Dilworth, who knew Tillie and recognized her talent and ways of treating clients, approached her about taking over Jane Dilworth & Associates, as Jane had decided to retire.
Tillie points out that the transition has been seamless. “We approach projects the same way, and all of her very experienced team, from design to installation, were willing to stay on. We have an experienced design staff with Sue Krone, a registered Landscape Architect and Alison Eaton, a landscape designer. Our landscape crew has a been working together as a team for close to 20 years with Jane Dilworth, which is unheard of in the industry.” While her focus is primarily residential landscaping, Tillie donates her talent and time improving surroundings around athletic fields and other non-profit locations which can use some outside beautification. Looking ahead, one of her four children, George, will be working on a crew this summer, and he’s thinking of Landscape Design as a college major. Summing up, you might say, Tillie likes to dig down because she knows that is the best way to come up with ideas that her customers really like. As she says, “I believe the best landscaper is one who is a gardener at heart and loves to play in the dirt.”