Power of flowers: Customers are in the buying mood

The national economy may be slowing, but business is blooming at Coast garden centers.

Frasier’s Nursery on Lemoyne Boulevard in St. Martin has seen a steady growth spurt as the weather warmed this week.

“People like to see things blooming,” said Ellen Wilkerson, whose family has owned the nursery since 1950. “It puts them in a good mood.”

A recent National Gardening Survey conducted for the National Gardening Association shows 91 million or 83 percent of American households do some gardening and they spend billions on flower, vegetable and container gardening.

Because the clay soil in some areas of the Coast isn’t good for growing plants, “Container gardening is really big,” said Wilkerson. The pre-planted pots are easy for those who don’t have any gardening experience or aren’t back in their homes since Hurricane Katrina.

Coast residents who are just returning home after the storm are coming to the Green Thumb Nursery on 28th Street in Gulfport for advice and plants. Employees Diane Mason and Susan Maxwell help them choose a combination of shrubs and perennial flowers, plus annual bedding plants that provide a punch of color.

“They seem to be happy because they come back,” said Mason.

At Beatline Nursery on Beatline Road in Long Beach, “We’re very, very, very busy,” said Stephanie Stasulis, who works in the familyowned business.

They were expecting three truckloads of flowers and had a steady flow of customers bringing their choices to the cash register.

Dena Kopszywa of Latimer works nearby and selected flowers during her lunch hour. She planned to spend the same amount as in past years.

“I like them really full,” she said of the five 10-inch pots of pink petunias at $15.99 each that she will hang across the front porch of her home.

With her job and her children involved in activities, “I don’t have much time to make them grow.”

Customers at Frasier’s Nursery are buying redbuds and weeping cherries.

Along with the plants, they look for advice on what withstands heat and what grows best.

Good Friday, the traditional day to start planting along the Coast, came early this year so Wilkerson said her customers know when there is a string of warmer nights it’s good to plant flowers and vegetables.