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Growing pains: Calgary garden centres ready for May long weekend

Calgary garden centres are open for business and just in time as budding green thumbs are prepping for May long weekend planting.

John Ostrowdun with Greengate Garden Centre and said he anticipates a busy weekend.

“In horticulture, and especially here in Calgary, the next few weeks and weekends are our busiest of the year,” he said.  

Just as many other businesses have been doing, Greengate has been operating by curbside service during COVID-19.

The centre has been staying busy and with the new way of working, things were challenging.

“It was a lot of work. Yeah, a lot of man hours compared to being physically open,” he said.

Safety measures implemented – be prepared to wait in line

Customers wait in line at Greengate Garden Centre as the store limits entry. MADASYN KOST / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

As of this week, the centre is fully open to customers. That means they can enter the store and shop around. 

This comes with provincial public health measures, including limiting customer entry, extra sanitizing and plexiglass walls at checkouts. 

Ostrowdun said as much as things are getting back to normal there are things people need to be aware of.

“Be prepared that there will be line ups; there could be lineups to get in. People just have to be patient and follow the arrows and the guidelines set out by our health services and the government,” he said.

Delayed shipments, limited shrubbery

The garden centre has seen delays in product shipment. mostly of nursery items such as trees and shrubs due to safety measures in loading areas. 

For these type orders, things may take longer than normal to arrive.

“Everything is taking like a week longer than it used to, to get your order,” said Ostrowdun. 

He said the store will be set up a little differently than usual, but all the stock is what’s typical for this time of year. 

Shift to food growth

Natasha Guillot, Executive Director of the Calgary Horticultural Society said they’re seeing some major changes in the city’s growing culture.

“Our focus right now is around food growing because it’s kind of a really big shift in our horticultural world right now. And we respect that and love it,” she said.

Guillot said that many people returned to seed growing.

“It’s a really interesting thing to observe where people obviously have a bit more time on their hands and are looking to experiment with what they can grow,” she said.

“I think it’s actually re-creating a bit of reconnection to the power of growing something for yourself.”

Getting things growing across Calgary

Silverado community garden, ready to sprout new life. MADASYN KOST / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The Calgary Horticultural society has been working with Calgary community gardens to get up and running in these challenging times.

Guillot said the city is home to more than 120 community gardens. Many of them have reached out for help during the pandemic.

“Each and every one of them were not sure if they could open this year and so that’s been a big focus of ours recently, is to support them as the government has given them permission to open,” she said.

She also said that since people are stuck at home they’re becoming more adventurous in their gardening.

“Many have decided to focus on creating their own backyard paradise,” Guillot said.

“That has involved a new interest in growing pollinators, native plants, fruit trees, regular trees, just a whole new level of interest.”