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.