Driving along Interstate 71 through Silverton, it's hard to imagine what is hiding atop the wooded hill that climbs up from the highway where it bends at Red Bank Expressway. If you exit and wind your way up to Plainfield Road, you'll find it: an oasis of sorts.
John Clark's great-great-grandparents purchased a 38-acre plot in 1939 to open HJ Benken Florist and Greenhouses. At the time, it was just a seed of a business. But in the decades since, it has blossomed — and remained in the family — for more than 80 years.
John Clark is a fourth-generation grower at HJ Benken's Florist and Greenhouses. "They were dairy farmers on the west side of Cincinnati and didn't want to be dairy farmers anymore," said Clark, who grew up working the greenhouses and now is Benken's chief grower and the fourth generation running the business.
What began as a handful of greenhouses has grown into 22 grow spaces. In July, 6,000 mums are potted for fall planting. Elsewhere on the grounds, poinsettias are in their infancy to be in full bloom for the Christmas season.
In addition to greenhouses, Benken now hosts a venue space, too. "So we can offer a space for getting married here, where you can have your wedding reception," Clark said. "We've had corporate dinners here. We've had parties."
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