Canada: Poinsettia business in full swing in Brookfield

For one weekend each year, the public is invited to stop by the Forest Glen Greenhouses here. The family-run company, now in its 28th year, is once again hosting an open house the last weekend of the month.

“We wanted to be a part of Brookfield’s Christmas House Tours to support the community,” said Judy Thompson, who operates the business with her husband. “We don’t open the greenhouse to the public except at that time. We thought it would be a nice idea so people can see that these poinsettias are locally grown and that we supply them to the Atlantic Superstores in the Maritimes.”

The poinsettias that Thompson refers to are the 100,000 Christmas plants that get shipped out each year. Shipping started the day after Remembrance Day, and thousands are loaded onto trucks on a daily basis. This is the fifth year the greenhouse is hosting an open house, and the fourth year as a part of Brookfield’s house tours.

“We’ve had really good response so far,” Thompson said. “It’s the only time we actually sell our products on site and last year’s, I think we had over 1,000 through.”

The house tours are Friday and Saturday. The greenhouse is open an additional day on Sunday. Saturday was busiest last year for the greenhouse, and the family decided to extend the hours of the open house to 1 to 4:30 p.m. all three days.

“Traffic on Saturday was a little intense, and parking was too, that’s why we extended our hours to hopefully alleviate some of that,” Thompson said.

The greenhouse, however, can’t extend the time past 4:30 p.m., as there are no lights inside the greenhouse.

Visitors to the greenhouse this year will see about 30 trees decorated by staff, and a living Christmas tree made out of poinsettias. “We use close to 500 poinsettias and it almost reaches the ceiling,” said Thompson. Visitors may also see the colourful plants hanging, as well as on the ground. “We didn’t have them hanging last year. We started that for more space to give them a better quality,” said Thompson.

While the greenhouse once again has red and white poinsettias, they have continued to grow ice punch – a pink variety – and new this year is a strawberry punch with white, pink and marble colours.

“This year, we’ve also switched varieties. We now have a series called the Christmas series, with Christmas Eve poinsettias. They are earlier and bloom now, and we’ve started shipping those,” said Thompson.

“And we also have a Christmas Day poinsettia, which takes us through to the end of the season of about seven weeks.” Being the exclusive supplier to the Superstore throughout the Maritimes, Thompson said she’s happy when she is grocery shopping and sees customers purchasing the company’s poinsettias. “I’ve been in doing my own shopping and I have helped people pick a poinsettia out and share what they should be looking for,” she said, adding sometimes she tells them who she is, but not all the time.

“When you’re looking for poinsettias, the flowers are the key. You want to look for a nice, light centre – that means that it is nice and fresh.” She said along with the care of a poinsettia, Thompson said one of the biggest questions she is asked is whether they are poisonous. “A person would have to eat probably all of the poinsettias in the greenhouse for it to be poisonous,” she added. To care for a poinsettia, keep it away from direct cold or heat, including drafty doors and windows, or even heaters and fireplaces.

Don’t over-water the poinsettia – Thompson recommends one to two cups of water about twice a week. When purchasing a poinsettia, make sure it is wrapped when taking it outside and don’t leave it in the car while continuing to shop.

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