White Pots and their Beauty Within

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Me and Tony Godfrey

I take a deep oxygen filled breath and my pupils almost dance off of these familiar shaped pots, it feels like Horticulturist’s Disneyland here.  Imagine pristine white greenhouses, longer than your eyes can see, filled with plants in bright white pots arranged neatly in rows, then stacked appropriately above one another, to efficiently accommodate their lighting needs.  After being a buyer in the Interior Horticulture Industry for the past 5 years, I have never had the opportunity to actually see where the plants were coming from.  Olive Hill Greenhouses in Fallbrook, is one of the largest foliage greenhouses in California and sits on 760,000 square feet of property! I am, to say the least overwhelmed.  Although, the size of this facility is very impressive, it is the quality of their product that impacts me the most.

Baby Bromeliad cuttings, less than 2 inches tall

Baby Bromeliad cuttings, less than 2 inches tall

Deb and I are given a personal tour of the facilities by none other than Tony Godfrey, Owner and daughter Denise Godfrey.  They delight us with stories about origins of plants from around the world, and their journeys along the way.  After many trials and tribulations since 1973, it seems like they have perfected a system that works and is working well. It’s obvious that Olive Hill places a high value on quality, and will not cut corners of time or price if their final product cannot reflect this.  They don’t seem to grow anything that they can’t grow well.  At one point Denise grabs a plant and proudly pops it upside-down to show us all the healthy roots filling the pot.  With this mentality, it’s no wonder my plants in the white pots always seem to live unusually long and happy lives.

Aglaonema 'King of Siam'

NEW Aglaonema 'King of Siam'

We are thrilled when we got a glimpse of some new varieties of a colorful Agleonema ‘Chinese Evergreen’ that they have begun production on. This native Thailand plant, if found hardy, should have a huge impact as the next ‘IT’ plant for interiorscapes.  It’s brightly colored foliage never fades and would need medium light and moderate water.  I’m crossing my fingers for this one.

Our last stop is a greenhouse stocked with a field of Bromeliads, from tiny starter plants to full grown beauties in every bright color you can imagine (except blue).  We learn that a Bromeliads takes 1 to 1.5 years in the greenhouse before they are ready to sell.  They are usually shipped as cuttings from Europe or Central America and like a banana they are given a puff of Ethylene gas to get their color.  Bromeliads are big sellers and make up 50% of Olive Hill’s sales.

Seeing first hand what plants go through before we pick through them at a nursery gives me the insight why sometimes we have success and other times we might fail.  More importantly, meeting Tony and Denise Godfrey and receiving an informative personal tour makes me appreciate this industry even more.  Their signature white pots definitely reflect the love and beauty within their family and company.

If you want to learn more about Olive Hill Greenhouses, go to their website, here.

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