Customers craving a taste of spring, says Simcoe garden centre owner

·2 min read

Brenda Austin’s flower shop is awash in bright blue hydrangeas, pink carnations and yellow pansies — but the star attraction these days is the classic white Easter lily.

The showroom at Ryerse Garden Gallery in Simcoe is packed with some 600 of the plants that Austin expects will be gone come Sunday afternoon.

“We hope so,” she said.

Based on the vociferous demand for cut and potted flowers so far this spring, Austin has reason for optimism.

“Everybody has just been waiting for spring this year,” she said. “They want the colour. They want the fragrance. That want that colourful array of spring.”

Recent springlike days prompted a flurry of sales, with shoppers coming into the store, taking advantage of curbside pickup, or ordering flowers for friends and neighbours.

“We do a lot of deliveries,” Austin said. “They want to send flowers just to let somebody know they’re thinking of them. It’s just a nice gesture to brighten somebody’s day.”

The sudden arrival of the pandemic last year left some flower growers scrambling to give their crop away, with many blooms ending up on the compost heap.

Whether growers were wary of a repeat or garden centres have been buying early and often, Austin said supply has been limited.

“Potted flowers are in tight supply this year,” she said, noting that pansies — which can be grown outside — have proven especially popular.

“As of a couple days ago, everybody we buy flowers from is sold out,” Austin said.

Ryerse staff are primed for the Easter rush, since for weeks they have been beset by home gardeners preparing to dig in once the earth warms.

“Last year we had a hard time keeping seeds in stock, because everybody was planting gardens and we kept running out,” Austin said. “This year people are coming in really early.”

As for picking the perfect Easter lily to have at home or give as a gift, Austin recommends finding a plant that is partially in bloom, with some of the distinctive white flowers open and others playing coy.

“It’s good to have a few open so you get the fragrance,” she said, adding that having some flowers yet to reveal themselves means the plant will delight its new owners well into April.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator