Calgary Herald

Calgary garden centres poised for customers

- Mario Toneguzzi

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers.

But April snowstorms only lead to frustratio­n for would-be Calgary gardeners and businesses geared to supply them.

A recent spring snowstorm and continued below-seasonal temperatur­es have kept backyard enthusiast­s indoors and gardening centres — ready to roll out the rubber welcome mats — relatively quiet.

Brad Watson, manager of SunnysideH­omeandGar- den Centre, said the gardening year is off to a slow start. “But the way we’re looking at it, we usually get one good snow blast in May so maybe we’re getting it done early,” he said. “Trying to look at the glass half-full.

“It’s slow. Saturday it was like a morgue in here. Sunday it picked up because the sun was OK. It’s not really hurting business too much right now because people at this time of year are kicking tires because you can’t put plants out.

“It’s maybe hurting our spring bulb sales a little bit because people can’t work in their gardens.”

And while gardeners here don’t really dig in until late May, Watson said he believes three or four consecutiv­e days of good weather will bring people in bunches.

While Sunnyside and other garden centres opened in recent weeks await the spring rush, they’ve set out hard goods such as patio furniture.

Plant inventory remains sparse.

“We’ll probably start getting some perennials the week of the 18th which is still normal. We haven’t changed that,” said Watson.

“By the end of April we’ll have a pile of annuals in here at our main store.

“Weather right now isn’t too, too bad. If this would have happened in May, it really hurts you more in the sales department. It just delays everything about 10 days.”

John Duncan, greenhouse manager for Green Gate Garden Centres, said this isn’t a typical year for Calgary gardeners. “We don’t normally have snow at this point of the year — at least not snow still on the ground from November,” said Duncan, of the recent blast.

“We’ve been keeping things tighter. Just kind of waiting for spring to pop and keeping inventory low but still have something here to prove that we’re still a garden centre.”

Once the snow melts, Duncan said Calgarians’ attention will turn to their gardens.

“If you’re really antsy to do stuff, some seeding can be seeded now because some stuff is late,” he said. “Just so you’re out there and feeling like you’re doing something. You can do that or really work on what your plan is for the spring and summer.”

Brent Park, a manager at Blue Grass Nursery, Sod Farm and Garden Centre, said while weather impacts sales, it won’t, ultimately, keep away green thumbs.

“If it’s snowing or raining, people don’t seem to get out. They get a bit discourage­d and stay home,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing really to have a couple of weekends of bad weather because people get antsy and excited, and when it is nice they’ll come out and really spend money.”

 ?? Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald ?? Brad Watson, manager at Sunnyside Home and Garden Centre says the recent snowstorm and continuing cold weather have resulted in the gardening season getting off to a slow start.
Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald Brad Watson, manager at Sunnyside Home and Garden Centre says the recent snowstorm and continuing cold weather have resulted in the gardening season getting off to a slow start.

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