The evening of May 4, 2018 an enormous storm moved through the area. Winds that sounded like a freight train. Thunder and lightening. Horizontal rain. And at the greenhouse, hail. There were even reports of tornadoes in the area, very rare in Vermont.
As I crested the hill on Oak Hill Road the morning after, I was relieved to see the greenhouse was standing. That was the good news. When I pulled into the parking area I could see the support that holds row cover over one of the benches was down and another bench had lost its bracing. Then I walked into the display area. There were literally plants and shredded leaves everywhere. Plants blown out of their pots. Broken tags. Hanging baskets that had been left on the ground, not hanging, were tipped over. Trays were scattered around. A bucket we use for collecting weeds was down in the brook beyond the pond yet the hanging basket that had been on the ground next to it was still in place, upright, with not a leaf damaged. Some plants were only sticks. Potting soil from tipped over pots was everywhere. Linzy arrived shortly after I did. We did a walkabout. Made a plan. Decided we needed to be closed for the day, really not good on the first Saturday in May, but customers and damage control and regular maintenance such as watering were really not going to mix. Got to work. First order of business was to make sure all plants were upright. Then collect ones that had been blown out of their pots. I made some phone calls to round up some extra help. We started cutting back damaged leaves. Joe showed up with extra coffee. Andy came by to create a shaded infirmary for the babies that were too damaged to go back into our displays but we thought might pull through. Polly arrived and worked with us to cut back leaves and flowers. Linzy and Polly continued the painstaking work of trimming injured parts of plants away while I watered and took care of some customers who stopped by. Andy set up the infirmary, fixed hoses, put the bench back together that had been blown apart. At 1:30, we started at 7:30 a.m., I took Linzy and Polly to lunch. We really needed to get away for an hour. After lunch the clean up continued. Andy and Polly were both gone by 3:30 but Linzy and I stayed until 7:15. We were determined to handle every single damaged plant before we left and we did. Tomorrow Rachel and I will have the job of sweeping away all the debris.
The good news in all of this; the greenhouse is still standing. The only damage inside was from one hanging basket that fell and crushed three plants. The hanging basket was perfectly fine. All of the plants in the greenhouse are gorgeous and happy. A surprising number of plants look good enough to be back on the outside display benches. No one was hurt. Linzy, Polly and I got silly and accomplished much. The sun was shining and there was just enough of a breeze to keep us cool. Lunch was delicious.
Agriculture is one tough business to be in. Long hours. Working in the rain and cold and under the broiling sun. Dirty. Wild, unpredictable weather. Yet we continue to engage in growing flowering plants that nurture the souls and beautify the homes of our customers. Others grow food to nourish our bodies.
Thank a farmer today. Give her a hug. It just might make her day.
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We will be Open on Sunday, May 6 from 11-3.