Niagara Gazette

May 11, 2014

Local nurseries hope sun on Mother's Day will finally get their season started

Local nurseries hope sun today will finally get their season started

By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — If the weather turns out sunny and bright today, moms aren’t the only ones who will have a happier Mother’s Day.

As area nurseries face what is typically one of their busiest days of the season, many have been struggling with the winter’s reluctance to leave the region.

Marty LaMarca, owner of Alcliff Landscaping & Nursery has been in the business for 50 years on Military Road, and said “this is possibly the fourth or fifth latest spring we’ve ever had.”

The ground was still frozen two weeks ago, he said, but by way of comparison, his records show there was four times as much snow this year as there was two years ago — and twice as much snow as there was last year.

”If you remember on April 27, we got an inch-and-a-half of snow. Two years ago I was shredding dirt on March 20, and last year I was shredding dirt on April 9,” he added. 

As an aside, LaMarca noted some customers told him they heard his business was closed due to the construction of a new plaza next door. “Rumors of my death are premature,” he joked, noting his company will continue business as usual in its Military Road location across from the Fashion Outlet Mall.

Area nurseries have been spoiled by the last two years of good weather and are hoping they can begin to recover from never-ending freezing temperatures and rain this spring.

At Faery’s Plant Market on S. Transit Road in Lockport, sales associate Mary Buryta said that while the cold weather kept people away, the intermittent sun over the past week has lured the shoppers.

Faery’s is selling a lot of garden fountains and statuary this year, and Buryta said that customers have been coming in asking when it’s safe to plant.

“I tell them to watch the weather forecast, but basically, it’s still a little early for most things.” Buryta said.

At Pipiles on Lockport-Olcott Road in Newfane, owner Bill Pipiles agreed that the cold spring weather made for a slow start, but things are getting back to normal with the recent warm spell.

“Last year on opening day, which was May 3, we did more business on that one day than we have so far this year,” Pipiles said.

The Newfane family business grows all of its own plants that are in “six packs.” Seeds are started in the greenhouse in early March, and by Mother’s Day, most of the flowers are blooming. The business is open daily until about mid-June, when the plants are all sold out, Pipiles said.

At Wayside Nurseries and Landscaping on Porter Road in Niagara Falls, the cold weather has meant holding off on hiring a full seasonal staff. Both the nursery and landscaping divisions, typically a total of about 20 employees, are smaller than usual for this time of year.

”I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis,” said Rachael Rotella Glassner, nursery manager, of Wayside, which is owned by her brother Michael Rotella and her mom, Jenine. “It’s part of the business. You have to take the good with the bad and our business is weather dependent.”

 “Unfortunately when the weather is cool like this, people don’t want to plant right away,” she added. 

Today is the second busiest day for Wayside, next to Memorial Day. “We’re hoping for a good turnout as usual,” Glassner said.  “I don’t want to dwell on the negative. We want to encourage people. The weather’s looking beautiful and it’s time to buy.”

In the long run, those who waited until now to buy their flowers will receive the benefits of a better flower or plant, according to the aforementioned LaMarca of Alcliff Nursery in the Falls.

LaMarca noted that those who waited to purchase their flowers and plants may benefit from waiting.

”The flowers look nice,” LaMarca noted of his locally grown stock. “They’ve had an extra two or three weeks of being in the green houses,” he said. 

While the ground begins to dry from excess snow and rain, LaMarca sees summer breezes ahead. “I think it’s going to get warm and stay warm,” LaMarca added, “and all hell will break lose. Everybody right now is cabin-fevered to death. They’re tired of being in their houses, looking out the window and watching it rain.”