Carlton Gardens…A unique Gift shop in West Michigan Just Past Saugatuck

 Saugatuck and Douglas
are filled with all sorts of little gift shops and art galleries…but once you have seen them all, then what? 

On a recent trip  to Saugautuck someone told me about CARLTON GARDENS. This is West Michigans Best Kept Secret!  But not for long!

Just about 40 minutes from the Saugatuck area, this is an amazing little piece of land, beautifully landscaped and full of all kinds of gifts and art., in Grand Rapids.

Carlton Gardens is much more than an enchanting gift shop with unusual wall hangings, floral arrangements, antiques, and garden décor—with nooks and crannies around every corner. The main house is the first stop.  Lot’s of clothes, jewelry,  purses and accessories, mostly all for women, but also lots of lamps, lights and home decor.

In the surrounding yard and gardens you with find walkways leading to a vast array of yard art, benches, baskets, and unique gifts.

Here in this acre of country hidden right inside the city are 4 gazebos, 2 ponds, 2 bridges and 9 out-buildings: the Barn, the Garden House, the Christmas House, the Potting Shed, the Outhouse, the Coop, Breton Cottage, the Apple House, and Chapel by the Bridge, complete with stained glass windows.

Gifts and trinkets and yard art everywhere. You can literally spend a couple hours here.

In fact, owner Ruth Tucker told us she encourages folks to pack a basket lunch and come on out and spend an afternoon.  One of the lovely screened gazebos has great lawn furniture inside, and shoppers are encouraged to come and hang out and enjoy this hidden gem.

While I find many of the galleries and gift shops in Saugatuck and Douglas, a bit overpriced, I found Carlton gardens  EXTREMELY reasonable!  Huge pieces of metal yard art ran $15-$350.  With many in the $60-$80 range.  It is  so beautiful and very affordable.

The property is filled with all of these little  “sheds”  and buildings, each filled with more art and more gifts!

There is even a little Halloween  building and a Christmas building.

Ruth runs the shop and keeps the grounds up with her husband John. Ruth is actually quite the trailblazer!  (Google her!) 

Ruth A. Tucker was for six years a professor of missions at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, and before that taught for seventeen years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. She is the author of seventeen books, including From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Another Gospel, Women in the Maze and Walking Away from Faith.

Ruth was the first full-time woman professor in  Calvin Theological Seminarys 125-year history.    
In 2003, less than 3 months after Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. was installed as the new president,  “I was, without warning, removed from tenure track and given a terminal appointment. I have repeatedly asked that all the evidence be opened only to be blocked by a dishonest cover-up. When independent mediators were retained by the seminary board in 2005, they called for “retroactive pay to 2003,” among other things. That report was buried. I finished my second terminal appointment on August 31, 2006.”   Talk about an emotional roller coaster!


 So these days she and her husband devote all of their time to  the gift shop and all of its grounds. It really truly is enchanting! I have never seen anything like it. And I encourage anyone looking for unique gifts to give, or for yourself or your yard, make the drive to see Ruth and her amazing gardens!  Plan to spend a couple hours, and bring your checkbook. I don’t see how anyone could possibly leave this place without buying something. Four of us went to the shop and all left with bags of gifts!

Ruth said a lot of gay people have discovered her little shop over the last few years and word has been spreading. 

Her and her husband have actually had the store since 1996. But in recent years have made a lot of changes and additions. They are ALWAYS working on it. In fact, since I was there in July, they have made more changes and additions!

 And they are always getting in new merchandise.
“Much of unique yard art comes from various artists around Michigan.

Ruth says, “Sure, we sell sculptures (and chimes, bird houses, furniture, floral, baskets, pillows, paintings, clothes, collectibles, jewelry and much more). But you need not purchase a thing. Just come and enjoy our wonderful grounds. Bring a lunch and eat it in one of our four gazebos, two of them by waterfalls. Wander over the bridge into our sculpture garden where magic unfolds! 

Hope to see you soon!”

3140 Breton Rd. S.E. ,  3 blocks south of 28th St. S.E.
See lots of  photos on the website  and on Facebook.
Phone: 616-974-1062
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10 am-5 pm ,   Sat: 10 am-3 pm

*PS –   While you are in Grand Rapids, you might want to visit  Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Comprised of 132 acres of natural wetlands, woodlands, meadows and display gardens, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a year-round experience with indoor tropical, arid, carnivorous, Victorian and seasonal gardens, changing sculpture galleries with exhibitions by international artists, and outdoor acreage featuring an internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park, Children’s Garden, Michigan’s Farm Garden, amphitheater for summer concert events, nature trails and boardwalks.