Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Behind the scenes nursery tour...or the magical mystery tour!

What a day. I can't quite remember having this much fun in a while.

My in-laws' friend and neighbor generously offered me a tour of Hoods Gardens, the wholesale nursery where he works in Noblesville, Indiana.
I can't begin to describe how enormous it is -- football field after football field-sized building, with sophisticated climate control, watering and retractable roofing, all designed to keep millions and millions of plants growing and thriving.

I met the owners, Steve and Tina Hood, and several of the employees, all hard at work managing this huge, living operation. Today I saw plants of every imaginable kind in all stages of growth. From the tiniest seedlings to giant flats of plugs to big baskets rich with a variety of mature plants, they had it all.

It was most interesting to see how they move plants from certain areas or buildings to others as they are hardened off and prepared to be trucked throughout Indiana to local nurseries and whole host of commercial customers.

The waves of pansies potted and ready to move out for sale were amazing.

I saw miles and miles of planters! (can you hum that to "Miles and Miles of Texas?")

This machine helps workers plant tiny plugs by predrilling holes in the soil as flats with pots go by on the conveyor belt.
Aren't the little plugs cute? They are about a 1/2 inch wide.
These hanging baskets are huge, and were planted for a city client, and will grow to be enormous for dramatic effect hanging high above the streets.
Boston ferns must be a popular item! (I have two at home, and I think everyone I know has one...do you?)
These planters, while sparse now, will be filled to the brim with thrillers, spillers and fillers as they grow and get ready for shipping.
A bazillion little plugs ... really!
These machines mix up the soil and then full the flats of pots to prepare for planting.
These beautiful pots filled with succulents gave me an inspiration for my cabana pots.
Ed, my tour guide, with the resident cat.
It was a brisk 39 when I set out for the nursery this morning, but it was nice and warm inside.
Isn't the pink tinge on this succulent amazing?
And they had dozens and dozens of these huge mixed planters with all variety of succulents -- my photos don't do justice to their scale and drama.
I loved the contrast of the macro photo of the little plugs, compared to the long shot of the same plants below. They are so tiny!

They had entire buildings of different Geraniums ready for spring sales.

This was truly a rare treat, and I appreciate the opportunity for this behind-the-scenes tour that gives me a real appreciation for all the hard work and management that goes into that little 4 inch pot or six-pak that I grab at my local nursery.


Janet said...

wow! What a fun day and a Bob Wills fan to boot!!

Lancashire rose said...

One word. Amazing! Now a few more. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the secret of growing everything so perfectly? Did you get the secret of their soil mix? I am always wondering about that because absolutely nothing you buy is as good as what the nurseries use. I know they have special lighting which also helps. What a great tour. You are having fun.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You lucky dog. What a wonderful tour. I have always wondered how those big operations managed so many plantings. Wow...

Carol said...

What a wonderful treat to go on that tour. I went on one to a big grower like that about, uh, let's see, 27 years ago, and enjoyed it, immensely. I'm sure a lot has changed in all that time. Thanks for 'taking us along'!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

getgrounded said...

WOW!! I had no idea nursery operations would be that huge. What an amazing day and thanks for the pics, because words wouldn't have described it enough. And yes, I have the requisite Boston Fern on the porch.

Sherri said...

I've been following your blog for a few months - and this is my first post. Just wanted to say your blog, along with a few others I read, has inspired me to start my own.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Annie in Austin said...

The set-up at Hood's Gardens was very interesting to see, Diana. Like Rock Rose I'd like to know what starter they use. The stuff I had was terrible - didn't get a single usable tomato plant.

I see the flapjack kalanchoe in some of those succulent planters ....boy that plant is HOT this year!

Hope you're still having fun!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

lleller said...

Excellent pictures! Wow!

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

How cool! The long shot of the trays of plugs look like a quilt. Magical mystery tour for sure.

kate smudges said...

It's amazing to see how a huge nursery operation works. What fun it must have been to go on this tour.