Flowers bloom in time for spring holidays

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At Jodi's Seasonal in Pittsfield, springtime is all about bright and happy colors. For 31 years, Andrea and David Blessing have been growing plants and creating floral arrangements.

"Easter is always a favorite time of year for us," Andrea said. "Easter is more festive with bright and happy spring colors, like blues, yellows and hot pinks."

In time for Easter weekend, Jodi Cahillane at Ward's Nursery in Great Barrington has a table full of white lilies.

"Lilies are a real favorite, and they're very fragrant," she said.

From tulips and daffodils to lilies and daisies, picking the right flowers for an Easter gift can be a challenge. To help find the right fit, Cahillane suggests considering how much care and attention the recipient would be able to give the plant.

"It's almost like getting a pet," Cahillane said. "It's something you have to tend to and help grow."

Some people may not live in an area with strong sunlight coming through their windows, or they may not be able to water a plant as often as it needs. Sunlight and water are the biggest factors in how long a plant will live, she said, and each one is different.

"Most plants like to be near a window or in a bright room, but not in direct sunlight," she said. "Not too much light, or it will burn the edges. If that happens, rotate the flower."

Easter falls on a different date each year, and greenhouses and flower shops have to contend with the changing weather and time of year.

"We like it better when [the holiday comes] early," Andrea Blessing said. "When it's at the end of April, we run into Mother's Day."

For the spring season, Jodi's offers hanging baskets, such as superbells and impatience, and potted plants, such as pansies, tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and white lilies.

"We have single-stem lilies and 12-inch pots with four stems, which can give about 20 flowers," she said.

Planning for a holiday that moves each year can be tricky, but David Blessing says he enjoys challenge.

"We pride ourselves on being able to sell lilies to customers with two open flowers and many buds, which will open later on," he said.

Jodi's has five greenhouses, he said, and each one is set to a different temperature to accommodate the plants at different stages of their lives. Some greenhouses are kept at 70 degrees, while others are kept at 40 degrees, based on whatever stage of growing the plants are in. Most lilies won't bloom until later in the season, so growers increase the temperature to encourage the plants to bloom earlier than they would naturally.

"Once a few lilies pop open, they're held in a room at 40 degrees," he said, which allows the plants to stay closed and prolong further blooming until people take them home.

"We move them back and forth," he said. "Our Easter plants have 100 miles on them before we're done. It's a challenge for greenhouse growers, but it's also a fun game." Ward's Nursery has a wide variety of plants for different tastes. It has spring cactuses and pineapple plants, as well as traditional spring flowers, like daffodils, primrose and tulips. Pansies are another popular spring favorite, Cahillane said.

"Pansies are great for cold weather because they can take a frost," she said. "They hold up a long time."

Ward's Nursery has pansies available in planters and wooden baskets.

For those who may be looking for an indoor potted plant, Cahillane suggests orchids, primrose or hydrangeas.

"Orchids are another favorite for Easter gifts, and they will bloom for a long time," she said. "Hydrangeas have elegance," adding they like warmer temperatures and should be kept indoors.

Many potted plants, like pansies, can move to the garden when the temperatures are warm enough, but Cahillane said people should introduce plants to the outdoors gradually.

"At first, just put it outside for an hour," she said, "then a couple hours and then four hours."

She recommends doing this for two weeks, in a shaded place, before the plants stay out overnight.

"The tissues have to harden and acclimate to the wind and change in weather," she said, "even if they're known to be hardy in colder weather."

It's also important to remember indoor plants have seasons too, and no plant grows or flowers year round, said Nancy Hall, also of Ward's Nursery.

"Give plants a break from the growing season, and don't feed them in the fall and winter," she said.

She believes plants make good gifts.

"They're alive and beautiful," she said. "It's an accomplishment to have something grow and bloom."

Garden Centers in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont region

Clark's Garden Center

900 Pleasant St., Lee

413-243-0660

Equinox Valley Nursery in Manchester

1158 Main St., Manchester

802-362-2610

equinoxvalleynursery.com

Green Mountain Hydroponics

106 North St., Bennington

802-442-4844

greenmountainhydroponics.com

Jodi's

717 Crane Ave., Pittsfield

413-443-4145

jodisflowers.com

Mettawee Mill Garden Center

4977 Route 30, Dorset

802-325-3007

mettoweemillnursery.com

Project Native

342 North Plain Road, Route 41, Housatonic

Opens for the season April 22

413-274-3433

projectnative.org

Trimarchi Nurseries

70 Notch Road, Adams

413-743-2614

Ward's Nursery and Garden Center

600 S Main St. Great Barrington

413-528-0166

wardsnursery.com

Windy Hill Farm

Trees and shrubs, locally grown plants in season

686 Stockbridge Road, Route 7, Great Barrington

413-298-3217

windyhillfarminc.com

Whitney's Farm Market & country Gardens

1775 South state Road, Route 8, Cheshire

413-822-9723

whitneysfarm.com

Zema's Nursery

154 Presbyterian Hill Road, Stephentown, N.Y.

518-733-5868

zemasnursery.com


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