Bring on the blooms: Centre Wellington greenhouse gearing up for season

FERGUS – In this sunny-snowy-rainy-hot-cold-snow again of a spring, it’s easy to believe Marisa MacKay has the best job in the world.

MacKay is the horticulturist for Centre Wellington, and it’s her job to grow the annuals and perennials that will grace the planters, flower boxes and municipal gardens throughout the township.

She practically lives in the greenhouse once seeds are planted and some – mostly pansies – have already been planted into containers outside township hall and the Elora tourism office.

There are two greenhouses behind the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex and they are bursting with blooms.

“It’s a nice place to be right now but it gets hot in the summer,” she said.

MacKay’s year really begins in the fall, after all the clean-up is done and the flower beds are put to bed for winter.

“That’s when we plan for the next season,” she said.

Containers are designed, seeds are ordered, and cuttings are done from some of the perennials.

The BIAs purchase the containers and the Fergus Horticultural Society often puts in an order as well.

The township has a small poinsettia program at Christmas too.

But in January and February, “we start growing,” she said. “By February it’s full-boar in there.”

With the warm weather approaching, MacKay is getting ready to plant all those containers, as well as some municipal gardens, and over the summer her staff waters, weeds, mulches, and replaces plants that don’t make it.

Because of COVID-19, summer staff wasn’t hired last year but MacKay hopes she’ll be able to get some summer help this year.

“We’re planning on hiring staff but with COVID, that could change,” she said.

It’s mostly annuals that are grown in the greenhouse, but MacKay said she’s experimenting with perennials. Shrubs and trees go in parks, “and there are two new parks this year,” she said.

In the greenhouse is the usual fare – dusty miller, celosia, coleus, marigolds, and pansies.

These are sun-lovers and MacKay said homeowners will have better success if they choose the right plant for the right location.

The containers have water reservoirs, which means they can be watered every two or three days rather than daily.

That saves time and money, and she recommends them for homeowners too.

“And constant fertilization,” she said. “That’s what makes the containers so stunning.”

And beautification is important to the township, she said.

“After a dreary, glum, covid winter, it’s a good feeling to see people smiling because of the flowers,” she said.

“Flowers do spread happiness.”