Saturday, December 5, 2009

Poinsettia growing house at Behnke Nurseries (and this is a tiny house half empty!)

This will be the last year the Behnke's grows Poinsettias; they've sold their growing facilities. I'm saddened by that news, but happy to hear they will continue to operate their retail facilities. Behnke's really grew Poinsettias well, actually, they grew all the seasonal crops exceptionally well. Their annuals were always good dependable plants and because they produced them, they were able to include, every year, some interesting, obscure, unusual selections that you wouldn't see anywhere else locally.

There was a time not so long ago when Behnke's Poinsettias were head and shoulders above the rest; now they're just heads above the best. Behnke's quality hasn't slipped, but the rest of the world has made strides. One of the wonderful things about the explosion of communications technology is that it means anybody can find out how to grow a perfect Poinsettia (or do countless other things well). Experience still counts and Behnke plants are still at the top, but the chain stores that used to be filled with "Charley Brown" plants now stock fairly passable material. 

I used to love the growing houses during the month before Christmas. Acres of Poinsettias: red , white, pink, striped, variegated spread out in huge blocks of color.  It was a sight to behold. For a few weeks at the beginning of December, every available body delivered them. Twenty or so drivers and helpers arrived before 5:00 am and milled around in sleepy confusion until the growing staff pointed us at trucks and directed us to the blocks of plants we would be loading and delivering that day. Getting up at 3:00 in the morning wasn't fun, and often it was cold outside, but seeing those acres of plants under artificial lights like some odd oasis of tropical splendor in the midst of a cold, dark, somnolent world was quite an experience, one that I feel privileged to have participated in.

I expect change is inevitable, and with so many people jobless and losing their homes and retirement equity it seems almost self-indulgent to be this unhappy about Poinsettias, but a little bit of something I valued is passing out of the world.

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