Mother’s Day, this Sunday, May 8, is the official kick-off to the flower season in Michigan, with local greenhouses gearing up for this busy weekend.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Kathy Mathews of Heavenly Scent Herb Farm in Tyrone Township. “After so many cool, cloudy days this spring, people are ready to get out in their yards and enjoy warmer weather.”
The exciting aspect of this season for gardeners is that there’s always something new in floral color or variety, usually introduced on Mother’s Day Weekend.
Doug Doemer, who has been heading the greenhouse operations at Gerych’s in Fenton for more than three decades, will be showcasing new petunia varieties, including Calibrachoa, also known as million bells or mini-petunias. “They’re really small flowers in delicate yellows and whites,” said Doemer.
He is also pleased with this year’s Wave Petunias, which have bigger blooms than ever. Other varieties offer other color and trailing options for baskets and planting. “Our Surfinias are more of a European petunia with very good trailers,” said Doemer. “They’re also self-cleaning, so they don’t require the maintenance of regular petunias.”
“We’ve also got about 500 ornamental grass varieties, plus lots of hanging baskets, combo baskets and combo pots, including our ‘confetti’ pots filled with mixed plants” added Doemer.
Hanging baskets and combo planters will be the top sellers for Mother’s Day, especially since Michigan’s fickle spring weather doesn’t allow for ground planting until later in the month.
“You’ve got to be patient with this weather,” said Doemer. “May 10 is as early as you’d want to hang any baskets out. Flowers don’t like anything under 50 degrees.”
The official gardening and planting kick-off in Michigan is Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-30.
“We’re known for our huge hanging baskets,” said Kyle Savage, greenhouse grower at Heavenly Scent Herb Farm. “I’m pretty excited about our ‘bubblegum baskets,’ covered in light pink flowers with Creeping Charlie that will trail 12 feet by summer.”
Bountiful hydrangeas in a rainbow of colors from pastels to lime green and soft white, dahlias with blooms spanning 6 inches and scented geraniums, known more for their foliage and scent, are just a few of the special floral surprises awaiting visitors.
Moss baskets with succulents and flowing annuals, plus specially designed moss high-heeled shoes, purses and tea cups filled with pansies and violets make whimsical, fun gifts.
Of course, Heavenly Scent’s Herb House is a specialty of this greenhouse, offering herbs that can be used for cooking, drying, potpourris and decorating. “We do some combo pots for herbs, but many herbs have different growing requirements, so we do more variety pots with a single herb,” said Savage.
Zaiser Gardens (pronounced “Zi-zer”) in Gaines, has been operated by Marc and Tracy Zaiser for 20 years.
“This time of year, I pretty much live at the greenhouse,” said Tracy, who has been working day and night creating planter containers and baskets for Mother’s Day Weekend. “Some of our customers bring Mom with them, and let her pick out what she’d like.”
Horticulturalists with degrees from Michigan State University, the Zaisers are also proud of the patio boxes that Marc handcrafts himself, with stained glass collegiate logos or hummingbirds. “You can get plants anywhere, but not the planters like these,” said Tracy.
She says what is true about doing business with most reputable local greenhouses. “I can take time to help people,” said Tracy. “I’ll ask them about their garden’s growing conditions. I can help design a flower box or garden for them. Most people aren’t as knowledgeable about plants and flowers. They just want something pretty.”