Thursday, June 4, 2015

Garden Road Trip! My visit to Forest Glen Greenhouses

Peter in the studio with some of the hot new plants for 2015!
(LOVE the new Calibrachoa Aloha Grape Cartwheel)
Look close - do you see the Eugenia topiary beside Peter? It's
that funky spiral!
For the 4th day in a row, yesterday was cold, overcast and drizzly.. and the perfect day for a GARDEN ROAD TRIP, so I headed to Forest Glen Greenhouses in Brookfield, Nova Scotia, a place that's been on my 'gotta visit list' for several years. It's not a retail nursery, but rather, a family run wholesale business that grows the plants for the Atlantic Superstore garden centres in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of talking to Peter Cantley on The Weekend Gardener (Listen here - just click May 31st, 11:30 segment). Peter is the gardening expert for Atlantic Superstore / Loblaws Supermarkets and also spent thirty years as the Vice President of Floral & Garden for the company. It's always a treat when Peter drops into the studio to share the latest and greatest new trends and plant offerings. On his recommendation, I dropped in to Forest Glen Greenhouses and got a personal tour from owner and fellow plant lover, Judy Thompson.

So much to see in the large gutter-connect greenhouses.
The 6 acres of gutter connect greenhouses were jumping with activity as the staff prepared plants for shipping. If I had visited a month ago, every square inch of the operation would have been covered in plants, but even so, there was still plenty to see. Judy and her team plan for months of top quality plants, hanging baskets and containers, so that there is a non-stop supply from spring through summer.

Forest Glen started from scratch about thirty years ago ago and it's been two decades since they became the exclusive supplier for Atlantic Superstore. Judy and her husband Lee began with a series of hoop tunnels, but gradually, the family shifted to gutter connect greenhouses, which offer increased and more efficient growing space. They're also joined by Judy's daughter Megan and her husband Jason - as well as their young son, Noah. They employ about twenty locals, with another ten coming from Ramea, Newfoundland.

Acres of plants supply all the Atlantic Superstore stores
in NS, NB & PEI.
At this time of the year, the space is under production with annuals, container plants, herbs, hanging baskets and vegetables, but soon, they will shift gears and begin planting chrysanthemums for fall, followed by poinsettias for the holidays. ("In November, it's just a sea of red," says Judy.)

Judy also has the opportunity to travel to plant trials every spring and summer, followed by occasional plant hunting trips to Europe. This allows her to help Peter in seeking out new plants for Loblaws that will be tested for at least a year to ensure that they are suitable for Canadian gardeners.

I couldn't leave without asking Judy to share her favourite new pick for 2015. "'Miss Montreal' is a new trailing begonia with two-toned flowers in pink and cream and I am going to use it for all my window boxes." She says she'll pair it with Torenia (wishbone flower) and blue ivy geranium for a low maintenance, but spectacular combination.

My thanks to Judy and Megan for the warm welcome and tour! Now, it's time to get out and plant!

Owner and plant lover, Judy Thompson showed me some of the
new container combinations she is testing. 

If you need container gardening inspiration,
look no further! I love this mix of textures,
especially the masses of tiny white
blooms on the euphorbia.

This photo doesn't capture the scale of these hanging baskets!
Each one is about 2 1/2 feet tall and wide and not yet available
at the garden centres, but you'll see them in the coming days.
It's 'Beauvilla Red' begonia, a truly beautiful plant with vivid
red blooms that light up shady decks and patios, and blooms its
head off until frost. 

The popular 'Dragon Wings' begonias are also planted in these
sizeable baskets for summer long colour. Again,
these were several feet tall and wide!

Pretty combination of sweet potato vine with Sweetunia
'Moonlight Bay'

Basil pots! The fragrance was amazing..

The big herb pots - chives, basil, parsley and more!

Like all the plants, the herb planters are carefully spaced to
allow maximum sunlight & growth.

There was colour everywhere.. 

In the foreground, 'Wicked Mad Magenta Empress' Verbena just pops! Each
bloom is made up of tiny florets in purple-pink and white. 

A field of potted creeping Jenny for containers. A jolt of
electric lime-green.

Looking up, there are thousands of hanging baskets in
many colours and plant combinations.

Another fun combination with Calibrachoa Aloha Grape Cartwheel, bidens
and soft yellow petunias. 

Packed and ready to go!

So many blooms on the begonia plants.

A closer look at the begonias. 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Thank you.It's nice to see flower production on a large scale.


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