Posted on the wall of Maude’s Garden & Coffee in North Raleigh is co-owner Nancy Dunn’s favorite poem, “Maud Muller” by John Greenleaf Whittier.
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: It might have been!” reads Dunn’s favorite stanza.
“In other words, don’t let your dreams pass you by,” said Dunn, 67.
The poem – those two lines in particular – helped convince Dunn to leave a high-level corporate job to open her own coffee and garden shop about a year ago.
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Maude’s Garden & Coffee, which is named for the Whittier poem, is the dream of Dunn, who decided to open the store after being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2010.
“I said, ‘If I survive this, I’m going to do this, it’s my dream,’” Dunn said.
After completing cancer treatment, she began making plans for the store, and Maude’s was created. The store is a coffee shop with a twist— half of the space at the corner of Strickland and Ray roads is dedicated to garden art and furniture.
“I just love the unique garden stuff, and I got crazy trying to find it,” Dunn said.
Along with lattes and chai teas, the business features garden supplies, dwarf conifer plants and handmade decorations by Dunn and her business partner, Denise Hawley.
Dunn and Hawley have known each other since 2000. Hawley cared for Dunn’s mother, Frances “Frankie” Miller, for 11 years before her death in 2012. Miller became the first female beat reporter at The News & Observer in 1942 and later went on to lead the North Carolina Nurses Association from 1956-1986.
Hawley makes garden art, and she also helped decorate the shop, which features recycled furniture, a pallet wall and wallpaper made from old pages in books.
“I have a black thumb, but I’m good at garden art,” Hawley said.
Miranda Miller, another friend, helps care for the live plants the store sells.
Maude’s has become a staple for customers looking for eclectic decorations, furniture and gardening supplies.
Supplies for fairy gardens are among the most popular offerings, Dunn said. Fairy gardens are miniature landscapes that can include plants, furniture, decorative rocks and other structures. They are designed to attract fairies and good luck.
Maude’s sells kits and has hosted do-it-yourself events for customers to make their own fairy gardens. Dunn also created a large fairy garden that is on display in the store.
Dunn and Hawley have been working to offer more workshops and special events. They especially like to decorate for holidays like Halloween and Christmas, when they string lights through the shop, make themed garden displays and create seasonal drinks.
Dunn loves coffee, and she wanted to include a coffee shop in her business plan because she was picky about what she drank. There wasn’t a locally owned coffee shop in that pocket of northwest Raleigh.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun,” Dunn said.
About the series
The North Raleigh News and Midtown Raleigh News are writing a series of stories about locally owned businesses in Raleigh. Do you know of a business you’d like to see featured? Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more
Maude’s Garden & Coffee is located at 12333 Strickland Road, Raleigh. For more information, go to www.maudesgarden.com.