The Telegram (St. John's)
Garden centres expect strong season
With another season of staying close to home now a reality, the arrival of warmer weather has many Atlantic Canadians turning to gardening. A recent survey commissioned by President’s Choice found that 82 per cent of Atlantic Canadians view their outdoor space as a welcome at-home getaway this year.
Troy White, director, fresh operations, with Loblaw in Atlantic Canada, says that since the start of the pandemic last year there was a huge jump in demand at the local stores’ garden centres. This season stores and suppliers alike have adjusted accordingly in order to accommodate ongoing high demand for gardening supplies. White says they are already seeing strong interest in the garden centres’ offerings in the early part of this season.
The wide range of plants at Dominion garden centres are 100 per cent Canadiangrown. Even better, the vast majority of the PC Lawn & Garden lineup is grown locally by suppliers including Bickerstaffe Nurseries in Portugal Cove-st. Philips.
“Working with local growers has always been a priority for Loblaw. Now, more than ever, we value the partnerships that are allowing us to support local businesses in our region and to locally source the flowers and plants for our garden centres,” says White. “Our local growers take pride in what they produce, and we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to bring this amazing quality to our customers.”
Bickerstaffe Nurseries and Gardens is a family owned business that has been a supplier to Dominion stores in Newfoundland for 25 years. Kerri Butler says her parents, Ian and Peggy Mcdonald, started the business in 1994 and that their operations have expanded as the relationship with Loblaw has also become more established.
“As the demand for gardening supplies has grown in our province over the years, so has our business,” says Butler. “And since the start of the pandemic, interest has really exploded. We are excited to support Newfoundlanders’ interest in growing both flowers and food for their homes.”
Bickerstaffe ships to Dominion stores across Newfoundland. Right now is their busiest time of year, as it’s prime time for stocking and restocking the Dominion garden centres, which opened in time for the May 24 long weekend and will operate through June. For the spring season they grow everything from potted annuals and perennials, pre-planted hanging baskets and containers, to herbs and vegetables.
White says that the PC Deluxe and PC Jumbo hanging baskets and planters that Bickerstaffe grows for President’s Choice are always a hit, as they are available in a wide variety of different flower, size and colour combinations.
Butler says that one of the ways they customize the PC lineup for customers in Newfoundland is by including flowers that are especially suited to the climate here.
“We feature a lot of calibrachoa (also called Million Bells), in our PC combo baskets because they really stand up to the wind and cooler weather. They are also available in many colours, from blue to white, orange, purple, pink, red; you name it!” says Butler.
Butler says that for the many people who are interested in starting vegetable gardens and getting their kids involved in back yard gardens, they make it easy to get started with all of the traditional options including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower plants and more now available at the garden centres. There’s also a new PC soil mix that’s formulated specifically for growing vegetables and herbs.