Pot-tunias are all the rage, bursting forth from colourful hanging baskets and planters at D.J. Paterson Garden Centre.
Owner Don Paterson said this new take on the petunia, a staple of annual gardens for years, produces an abundance of blooms in a wide variety of colours, making it perfect for a showy floral display.
Paterson and wife Joan run the garden centre at 4894 Portage Ave. in Headingley, along with up to eight staff at the peak period from early May to mid-June. The start of this year’s season was delayed by about three weeks due to the long winter, so in mid-June many customers are still buying bedding plants for flower beds, planters and seedlings for vegetable gardens.
The couple’s two sons help at the centre, and Paterson is hoping that one or both will eventually join the business.
He first opened the location in 1977, selling fruit and vegetables. Over the years, the business has expanded to include eight greenhouses. Paterson said selling landscaping supplies and nursery stock is an important part of the business, especially since the competition is heavier in flower sales, with many big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot offering annuals and perennials each spring.
While the Patersons have hanging baskets and planters with flowers of every colour for sale, they also accept custom orders to produce specific looks.
Paterson said ornamental grasses are popular with many gardeners and landscapers.
"People want low-maintenance gardens," he said.
Once this year’s crop of Manitoba-grown fruits and vegetables are ready, the garden centre will stock those. Although the Patersons’ plants come from around the world, their produce is local.
"We do over-winter some perennials and nursery stock," Paterson said, but added that the winter heating cost for a greenhouse is very high.
The couple closes their retail business from November 1 until March or April, but work in the greenhouses starts in late winter when new stock begins arriving.
Paterson said he’s optimistic about the future, as continuing residential growth in the Headingley area means more potential customers.