US: Nurseries are busy as garden ‘gnomes’ prepare for spring

Even those who enjoy sitting at home, sipping on a hot beverage while peering out the window as snowflakes breeze by, are probably saying enough is enough this winter. On a recent sunny but extremely cold day, the workers at Casa Verde garden nursery in Columbia Station were busy fulfilling the promise that spring is just around the corner.

The Petitti family owns Casa Verde, and 98 percent of the plants, trees and other organic material produced there are shipped to all nine Petitti Garden Centers around Northeast Ohio.

The nursery itself is not open to the public. But this reporter was treated to a tour of the 34-acre facility, where colorful tropical plants spew bright red, yellow and purple amidst the greenery. Citrus trees soaking up the warmth near the front of the greenhouse are already bearing golf ball-size grapefruits and lemons.

Employees working in the production area resemble elves preparing for Christmas. Or maybe those ever-ubiquitous garden gnomes. Gloved workers meticulously place seedlings into plug trays. “They plant the little plant material in the plug trays,” said Noelle Akin, education and training manager at Casa Verde. “The plugs are no bigger than a 50-cent piece. Placing the plant material into plugs is very delicate work.”

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