A Rather Unique Spring

by Phil Caldwell

As I thought about a topic for this month’s Newsletter, I was determined to not write about COVID-19. After all, the press is so saturated with news about coronavirus many of us are getting a bit tired of hearing about it. I don’t mean in any way to belittle the severity of this terrible disease, and it is vital for the media to keep us updated, but depression can also become an issue if we don’t seek other forms of mental stimulation. Seems kind of weird how political a severe health issue can become, sometimes you wonder about what you hear, you eventually learn who to listen to. Our glasses have to remain half full, not half empty. Despite my attempt not to write about COVID-19, it has kind of drifted that way. We all have to remain optimistic!

Fortunately in New Hampshire and here in Maine, garden centers and landscape businesses have been declared “essential businesses” that can remain open. The tourist industry, Maine’s primary source of revenue, will get hammered this year. Restaurants and places of lodging have been closed down. Some restaurants have turned to some form of take-out or delivery services, but this still greatly reduces jobs and income. Seems only logical that the Green Industry won’t have a record year, due to the trickle down effect, but we’ll be a lot better off than many.

A couple of local garden centers, that also sell to landscapers, have developed interesting changes to their usual wholesale methods. Recently I received a rather lengthy e-mail that contained a complete list of available plants, sizes, prices, and many photos. The nursery stated that they are closed to foot traffic unless absolutely necessary, and if so, an appointment is required. If you miss your appointment time, a new one must be rescheduled. While maintaining “6-foot social distancing,” plants will only be tagged at this time and will later be pulled by the nursery for pick-up. Phone orders are preferred.

They went on, “Upon completion of pulling your order, the nursery will call you to notify you that your order is ready and you will be billed. When the order is ready and you go to the nursery  for pick-up, drive to the main parking lot and call the office from your truck and you will be directed to the loading area. Do Not Leave Your Truck! Large B&B plants or smaller plants on pallets will be put on your tailgate and the customer is responsible for actually loading into the truck or trailer. Any tailgates or sideboards must be removed by the customer. All tarps and tie-downs are the customer’s responsibility.”

I’m sure most nurseries will operate under similar policies.

Although this sounds like a bit of a nuisance, it only makes sense. When you think of how many customers a nursery worker comes in contact with during the busy spring season, it is very understandable. It’s the least we can do when you consider how many businesses have had to close due to being considered “Non-essential”! Please use common sense, we’re all in this together!

Enjoy Spring!

— Phil Caldwell is a past president of NHLA (1989) who now lives and works in Maine.