March Madness

In Spokane, we are usually rooting for the Zags come March.   I did my internship and post doctoral work at Duke, and so they are another team I could root for in a pinch.  There is also March Madness every year at Tower Perennial Gardens.  I’ll give you  a hint as to what I mean….

Some thyme delivered by FedEx…what do they do with those boxes in transit?

The madness starts with snow still on the ground this year and heaters running. Tables are empty at the beginning of the month.

A few flowers do arrive here in February.  That’s when we start our potting season for the new year.   However, in March Madness we get most of our deliveries.  Sometimes I get them from FedEx, and those have a good chance of having been given a wild ride on the way to the nursery.  UPS is our favored shipper for the small orders.  Those plants arrive in good shape.  We also get shipments from truckers.  Those orders are usually on a pallet.  However, the big rig double trailer I show here came to our nursery with a single box.   Does that not fit with Madness?

The biggest rig I have ever had deliver a single box of plants. What were they thinking?

We also have new employees every season.   The veterans make it easy in that they help train and direct the new hands.  But with new folks, strange things happen during March Madness.  I know that every nursery owner could fill a book on the goofy things a newbie will do.  That’s how we all learn.  I just had one bury a flat of plants in fertilizer.  She apparently never heard of fertilizer burn, so we’ll do a bit of education.  I’ve had people try to pot up every marigold seedling.  Every seed will germinate, and we need rather few of them since they are not all that popular.  No need to pot up thousands of them.    Tower Marigold Farms.  Just an example.  The reality always exceeds imagination and defies prediction.  You train what things you can predict, but trust me, there are those things that come as a surprise.

I traveled to Portland to see that we had thousands of recycled pots to pot up the thousands of new arrivals this spring.

But for the most part at Tower Perennial, March Madness just looks like madness but it is fairly organized hard work.  We move the perennials stored for winter in the Annual House to make room for the new crop of annuals.  We keep the heat up in the greenhouses and pot thousands and thousands of plants.  We move in semi loads of new stock from our tree and conifer growers.  And we get our shipment of pottery for the new season.   This year it will be like real March Madness, and extend into April like the NCAA tournament.  They blame the Chinese New Year, but the truth is just a ball dropped and the pottery will arrive early April.  We have a good stock of pottery already, but it will be great in April.  

In the midst of the work, we have some plants bloom early before we open. The primroses were beautiful in March. Luckily, ours are hardy and can be planted later for years to come.

Plants do not appear thanks to magic.  We have been growing them since January under lights and in heat.  Thousands of babies are produced and transplanted.  They are often transplanted more than once prior to sale.  We do all we can to see that you get good size plants that will start the show for you early in the season.   We use ladybugs in the heated houses to keep plants clean of aphids and such.  When we walk in our production house we often get a hitchhiker on our clothing.  

By the midpoint of March, the tables are over half full and thousands of annuals and perennials have been transplanted.

The outdoor tables are empty at the beginning of March, but they fill up as the month moves along.  When you come at the beginning of April (OPENING DAY APRIL 2), you’ll see tables full of plants.  Do know that some plants will still be dormant in early April.   Shopping for conifers, hellebores, and hardy plants that start growth early is good for early April, but most plants need a bit longer to get ready for them to make the successful transfer to the home garden.   April is NOT tomato season.  You knew that.

So before we open, just know that there is Madness afoot.  And that madness creates thousands of beautiful gardens and patios every year.  We will be insanely happy to help you with yours, said the retired psychologist.