When you put that pretty potted annual, perennial or hanging basket in your cart, do you ever wonder where it came from? Most people don’t consider this, they simply love these flowers for the colour and the joy they bring them in their garden and that’s ok because, honestly, that is why we grow them.
The life of an annual or perennial flower begins the year before, in September, when we spend hours poring over catalogues and our plant lists. We research the newest varieties, as well as our tried and true favourites. As everybody has their own opinions and personal favourites, friendly arguments, debates, bribery and coercion, are all techniques that are used in staff meetings to finalize the next year’s list. Our grower, Matt, then places all the orders with the various seed and cutting companies and updates all the scheduling of the seeding and planting.
Seeds and Cuttings
In December and January, the seeds begin to arrive; they are then planted and started in our misting chamber which is called a germination room (it is like a giant sauna for seeds). Once they pop their little heads out of the soil, we then transfer them to our growing greenhouse where we have a misting bench to keep them moist. All of the plants that start better from cuttings (geraniums, petunias, calibrachoa, and coleus for example) arrive throughout February and are hand planted in small trays called 105’s. The seeds and cuttings continue to grow all through February and March in this warm and humid greenhouse.
Transplanting the Baby Flowers
During March Break we hire a group of local high school students, from Smiths Falls, Kemptville, Merrickville, and the surrounding area, and the greenhouses become a plant factory. Every baby plant is transplanted in to their designated pot, or a hanging basket, in one of our 20 greenhouses. We have hanging basket crews, 4” crews, a perennial crew and a soil crew. It is hard work, which takes a lot of organization and teamwork, and we couldn’t do it without their help. Just to give you an idea of the scope of work, this season we planted 29,970 Annuals, 5180 Hanging Baskets, and 9640 Perennials - just on the March Break alone!
Summer Flower Debut
In May, these plants are then transferred from the growing greenhouses to our main retail store where we organize them all by colour where they wait to be chosen to make their summer debut in gardens all over the Ottawa Valley. So this spring when you pick out your potted annuals, perennials, or hanging baskets at our Garden Centre, give a little nod to 'The Long and Winding Road' that they travelled and the local kids that worked so hard to bring that smile to your face.
P.S. We can't forget Lexi, Rob's sweet & friendly german shepherd. She is always happy to say a quick hello and enjoy a nice ear rub before heading off to follow her dad on her next adventure around Gemmell's.