Fifteen years and counting.
Turning our dream into reality.
Fueled by a love of landscaping and equipped with a Ford Focus wagon, Craig Jenkins-Sutton started Topiarius in the spring of 2003, and set about to beautify the Chicagoland area. After two years of successful design and installations on his own, Craig acquired a new truck, and Sara, his wife, joined Topiarius as co-owner. Together they have worked to grow a company that creatively meets the landscape design and installation needs of urban dwellers.
In the spring of 2007, they couldn’t contain themselves any longer. Sara became inspired to bring what we do outside in the garden to the inside, and Topiarius Floral Design was launched. Our desire to continue to meet clients’ needs also precipitated this new direction. With requests for floral arrangements being made, it seemed like a natural progression for our services.
The summer of 2010 brought a new season of change and growth for Topiarius. With the support of our customers, we moved out of our residential office on the north side of the city, and into a new and larger office space and landscape yard on the near west side. Today, we continue to develop new skills and resources to keep pace with an ever-evolving industry. We look forward to providing the best possible service for years to come.
Ready to serve
Meet the staff that make Topiarius a success.
Craig Jenkins-Sutton, President and Co-Owner
In the early days, Craig was Topiarius’ sole employee, managing everything. Today, he is focused on promoting and selling our services, as well as landscape design. Craig’s knowledge of construction and years in the green industry allow him to combine creativity and practicality in his designs. And his proven ability to anticipate and understand the full scope of a project, gives his designs amazing durability.
Sara Jenkins-Sutton, Vice President and Co-Owner
Sara manages all of the business functions for Topiarius, from marketing and promotion to financial management. Since founding the company with Craig, her role has evolved over the years. Sara started out in the field, digging and planting with Craig. She moved on to give leadership to our Fine Gardening Services and Seasonal Color Program. From 2007 to 2012, Sara provided oversight for the Floral Design division.
Christopher Walsh, Director of Fine Gardening & Seasonal Rotations
Prior to beginning his landscape career, Chris spent his young adulthood running his own gardening company and growing his own vegetable garden in the back yard of his parent’s home. Chris’ professional career began in D.C. after graduating from both the College of William and Mary (BA) and George Washington University (Landscape Design) in 2000. He has always demonstrated his strong passion for helping clients realize the true potential of their landscape project through telling a compelling and creative narrative about their unique garden space.
Abraham Kelly, Design + Sales Associate, Fine Gardening & Seasonal Rotations
Since his teens, Abe has been involved in the green industry whether he was working on his family’s property or a local garden center. His passion continued through college as he earned a Bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture from University of IL Champaign-Urbana in 2004. Post college, Abe gained design experience through a couple other local firms before joining Topiarius in the spring of 2018. As with most career paths, our journeys our varied. Abe’s sales experiences was duly earned through 6 years as a cosmetic manager at Macy’s Watertower Place. The combination of design skill and understanding the needs of clients is the strength that Abe brings to our fine gardening team.
Ashleigh Ewing, Design + Sales Associate, Fine Gardening & Seasonal Rotations
After completing her B. S. of Science in Financial Management from Clemson University, Ashleigh’s interest for the outdoors inspired her to go where the great natural landscape movement began in the 18th century for her M.A. in Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield, UK. Returning to the southeast States, Ashleigh spent several years getting her hands dirty as a Landscape Manager, as well as, designing and selling annual and maintenance services as an Account Manager. Driven by her interest to connect people to their urban environments, she has returned to her Midwest roots to create beautiful and inhabitable outdoor spaces that enhance our client’s interactions with the outside world.
Amy Beltemacchi, Registered Landscape Architect, LEED AP
As an award winning landscape architect, Amy brings her experience, knowledge, and talent to Topiarius the spring of 2015. After receiving her Masters in Landscape Architecture from University of MI, her craft has been honed by working with the Chicago firm Site Design Group Ltd as a project manager, designer, and the plant material expert. Her design scope ranges from university campus planning, to school yards, to pocket parks, to roof tops & green roofs, and to residential design. Amy loves to engage with clients through clearly presenting her ideas in her presentations to making sure the final outcome is all they expected. When not designing, she’s getting her hands dirty in her Root-Riot Urban Garden Network all the while scoping for reusable materials to manufacture her bags.
Bill Resch, Operations Manager, Carpentry
With over 30 years of experience in construction, ranging from project management to custom millwork, Bill brings a level of professionalism to the Topiarius carpentry department that is unmatched in the landscaping industry. As a respected home improvement expert and the author of 50 Plus One Tips When Remodeling Your Home, Bill has spoken on the topic across the country. His work with the Topiarius design team to produce shop drawings, aid in design, and oversee all project fabrication and installation, ensures our clients receive the highest quality product.
Craig Nelson, Project Manager, Design + Install
Craig began working with Topiarius in 2007 during the summers while he was in college. After graduating from North Park University in 2009 with a degree in Art, he joined Topiarius full-time. Craig’s path to Project Manager in the spring of 2018 has been well-earned. Having become a highly skilled carpenter and problem-solver, he strives to provide the very best service for our clients ultimately wanting to create outdoor environments that refresh their spirit. His level-headed approach and his truthfulness have easily earned the respect of his co-workers, which continues to nurture our highly successful team.
Erica Earnest, Plant + Material Buyer
Erica’s interest in plants began when she was in high school and worked at a greenhouse; little did she know that job would give direction to her future career path! After graduating from University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, she continued in the green/floral industry by working at local retail stores (Jayson Home and Garden and Crate & Barrel) before joining Topiarius for a little over 2 years as a crew leader in our fine gardening department. Since the winter of 2017, Erica has been placing all our orders for plants and making sure they are properly cared for / organized in our landscape yard. As Topiarius continues to grow, the strength of Erica’s retail and in-field experience really shines!
MaryKate Weaver, Landscape Designer
After falling in love with the urban landscapes of Chicago, particularly Lurie Garden, it was an easy decision to move here after graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University with a Masters in Landscape Architecture. Having gained experience with the National Park Service in D.C. and Site Design Group in Chicago, MaryKate continues to develop and explore her conservation-minded and environmental perspective that she cultivated through her B.A. in Environmental Policy & Global Studies from the College of William and Mary. At Topiarius, she is applying her perspective and knowledge to residential landscape architecture designs. Additionally, MaryKate provides significant support to the design team with her technology experience and expertise.
Paul Church, Supervisor, Fine Gardening & Seasonal Rotations
Paul joined the Topiarius team the winter of 2017. He manages all the work of the fine gardening crews, as well as, puts together the puzzle (a.k.a. the schedule) of all the visits for our 150+ fine gardening clients. By completing multiple courses at the Chicago Botanic Garden and earning his IL Pesticide Applicators license in the spring of 2018, Paul’s familiarity with the IL landscape has grown. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Science at Paul Smith’s College in 2010 which was followed by several years of working as a digital press operator and shipping coordinator at a VT shop. While here Paul learned the importance of organization, accuracy, and communication. Paul’s passion for the environment strengthens his desire to create awesome urban environments.