Spring is, for many people, an opportunity to look out over a winter-worn lawn with ideas to enhance their home landscapes.
This year, for people spending weeks indoors due to the coronavirus, the quest for lawn beauty — and things to do in spare time — has been an especially big boon for garden centers and nurseries.
At Rogers Spring Hill Garden Center in Haverhill, owner Barbara Rogers-Scharneck said, "What I tell people is that we are essential for their sanity. We are here in any aspect we can to serve them."
Rogers-Scharneck said the garden center in Ward Hill is open if customers want to come inside and shop, with all safety and cleaning efforts in mind. She noted that many people are also taking on their own home projects instead of calling a professional for assistance.
"They have extra time on their hands," she said.
Laschi's Garden Center in Methuen is enjoying a lot of phone calls from customers wanting advice.
"We have a lot of phone calls from people looking for stuff, or for guidance," said staff member Ryan Gendron. "There are a lot of home projects people are calling about, ordering loam, or just wanting to start a garden."
The 30-year-old business is unloading more and more trucks daily, Gendron said, and as the season moves forward he expects profits to continue climbing.
For Jim and Lisa Whiteneck, owners of Springlook Farm on Island Pond Road in Derry, business is also blooming in every way.
“This year compared to last year, our April sales have gone up at least 50%,” Lisa Whiteneck said. “We are so fortunate and lucky.”
Whiteneck added she is always happy when people come to visit — but it’s all done with safety in mind. The garden center’s main building is kept clean and disinfected regularly. Only three people are allowed inside at a time.
In addition to in-person foot traffic, Whiteneck said the phone is constantly ringing with customers wanting to chat, ask questions about proper plantings and time frame, as well as just a way to keep in contact with the outside world during these challenging times.
“Everyone seems very happy to get the information,” she said, “and not everyone wants to make a purchase. And we are learning every day and learning from our customers.”
That sense of contact is also evident at Shady Hill Greenhouse and Nursery in neighboring Londonderry. The Adams Road business is also busy these days, with people ready to come out of the house to enjoy the season while wandering the garden center’s rows and rows of neatly arranged shrubs, trees and flowers.
"It’s been pretty busy," said Shady Hill horticulturist Kari Allard. "People are at home, looking around, and there’s been a lot of interest in new vegetable gardens."
Allard said Shady Hill is stocked full of all springtime supplies and plantings. She said customers are coming out to view perennials, florals and vegetable plants, while also just enjoying some fresh air.
“People are just happy to be out of the house,” she said. “And when people get outside and get sunlight, they are happy.”
At Delahunty’s in Windham it’s not just the plants and flowers people are admiring. Many customers are also planning bigger landscape projects and eyeing the mulch piles, stone and other landscaping materials.
“We are trying to keep a good stock of plants, too,” said Delahunty garden center manager Danielle Houston.
She said Delahunty’s is also enjoying a good business this spring season, with customers stopping by in person at the Range Road location, making phone and online orders, and a boisterous delivery service that Houston said goes pretty much everywhere, including locations all over New Hampshire and into Massachusetts.
“And people sometimes just want to get one plant delivered,” she said.
Houston said it’s about the gardens and lawns, but also about a sense of calm when it’s time to plan a homestead landscaping project.
“A lot of people just want to come,” Houston said. “You see pretty flowers and positive things.”