The more things change the more they stay the same. I look around the garden center and often wonder what Orie and Harold would think of things. Our offices are about the same as they were decades ago, however, we did get rid of the 1970’s floral print carpet in the office this fall. A few years ago, I shared how we mixed our soil for our greenhouse production by hand, shovel full by shovel full, one at a time. Today, we get our potting mix pre-mixed but we still use tons of it.
I have a framed photo in my living room of my Grandfather Orie and an employee standing over the crop of spring annuals in a glass greenhouse at our location on west 13th. I don’t recall seeing the structures; my guess is that they were removed in the late 1950’s.
We used the simple gas heaters in the photo in our cold frames until the mid 70’s when our old canvas tarp covered structures were removed. Those old cold frames grew tough plants. During the day, the tarps were rolled up and tied at the top to let the light get to the plants. At night when weather dictated (after calling the weather line or listening to Dad’s weather radio), we’d roll the tarps down and light the open flame burners to heat the cold frames. On more than one occasion I remember being called out of bed to go ‘pull the tarps’ after a late weather report.
In 1975, our modern growing greenhouses were constructed and in 1980, our modern 60’ X 96’ structure was erected. These photos are of the greenhouse with Orie and Harold observing the progress.
Today, we're putting up another modern greenhouse in the spot where the 1975 greenhouses served us well for so many years. Our new greenhouse will have 14’ side walls with an opening roof for efficient ventilation without the need for fans. New sidewalks will make moving plants for retail a cinch. That in itself is an upgrade we’ve needed for so long. We’ll keep you up-to-date with the progress of the project.
As I was walking through the construction site, I was collecting pieces of glass. Those pieces were there from the early greenhouses that Orie grew those first plants in years ago. Bob, our contractor, asked what I was collecting. That's when he got to hear a bit of JGC history. My plan is to try my hand at stained glass and make some type of suncatcher out of the well-worn pieces of glass to hang in our new facility.
We are still growing many of our plants today to sell at our stores. Presently, we are tending to our first crop of pansies and violas, which will be for sale in March. Like those cold frames of the past, we are growing them cold (and a bit dry as my friend Bill keeps reminding me to do) to have tough plants for you.
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Centers
The more things change, the more they stay the same.