The greenhouse business continued to expand as we entered into contracts with retail garden chains as well as other stores such as K Mart, Sears Roebuck and various grocery chains. We continued to build houses and finally had 60,000 sq ft of greenhouses. We then bought George’s operation, which was an additional 60,000 sq ft. At our peak, we had 35 people working at each nursery plus we started another operation at Cibolo, Texas near San Antonio.
We had three step vans that delivered plants in Dallas, a 1½-ton truck, and a semi tractor-trailer truck that delivered beyond Dallas. We would load the semi full of plants and our driver would go to Tulsa, then to Oklahoma City, then to Amarillo, Lubbock and Wichita Falls and back to the Nursery. He would back the semi against the loading dock and crawl back to sleep in the sleeper. When we had the semi loaded, he would pull out for the south run. This was to Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and back to the Nursery.
We continued this all spring. In the Nursery business, you sell like crazy from April until July, but the rest of the year is slow. About 70% to 80% of your business is during this period. To try and smooth out this drastic curve, we began to grow plants for florists such as gloxinias and kalanchoes. We also grew about 10,000 poinsettias in 6” pots to be ready for sale each December.
We became known as top fern growers. Texas A&M had us come down to College Station and speak to the Texas Nursery Association on fern production. We also lectured at the research station in Dallas. Neil Sperry had me on his TV show on Saturday mornings to answer questions about fern production.
The first time Neil invited me to appear on his TV program I loaded up some ferns that morning and started over to the station that I understood was in Grand Prairie. Heading out, I continued east looking for the check points that Neil had given me-until I realized the darn studio was in Ft Worth! Somehow I managed to arrive at the station a few minutes before we were to be on the air. I grabbed my ferns and bolted up the stairs to the studio and slid into the chair next to Neil just as the producer pointed to me and said start talking. I am sure my face was flushed and I was panting like a big dog in August but we made the best of it.
Photo of semi found here.
Photo of poinsettia found here.
Photo of Neil Sperry at WBAP found here.