Humber Nurseries

Spring arrives early at Ontario's largest garden centre

That time described by Chaucer as “with its showers sweet…has bathed each vein with liquor of which virtue engender’d is the flower.” April, the month that is celebrated more than all others in poetry and art for its awakening and rebirth, when tender shoots and buds emerge from the thawing earth.

Good gardeners are now starting to think ahead, making lists for their gardens. The first perennials and annuals will be going into the earth soon for summer blossoms. For good garden centres, the work is already underway, such as at Humber Nurseries, Ontario’s largest garden centre.

“We are receiving great products now every day,” says J.R. Peters, Manager, “We are getting ready for the spring season with annuals, hanging baskets, vegetables, and perennials are starting to get potted up; every day is a little bit busier getting ready for the spring. We are receiving furniture, pottery, garden décor, fertilizers and tools daily to have what you need for any gardening task at a one-stop shop.”

The family-owned business since 1948, Humber Nurseries are where Toronto’s best gardeners know they will get healthy, quality plants and products, for a small flowerbed to sprawling acreage. Located on 24 acres on Highway 50 (just south of Highway 7) and with growing operations in Caledon, the majority of its customers will come from the downtown core, willing to go the extra mile for a beautiful garden.

Astounding variety

When a popular gardening magazine does a spread with new or rare flowers, Humber Nurseries always has it in stock. In fact, Humber Nurseries’ variety will astound you. “We have everything the gardener will need. If it’s in a magazine, we will have it, and at very competitive pricing,” says J.R.

With acres of open retail and wholesale space bursting with over 3,000 perennials, and another 100-acre farm for growing trees (“large specimens”, as they are known in the business), Humber Nurseries is also popular for its greenhouse Victorian baskets in various colours. Guy Peters, President of Retail Operations, incorporates design trends in architecture and interior and exterior design to ensure he has the complimentary products.

“A lot of what is going on in the industry today is outdoor gardening, bringing the indoors out, so colour schematics are being brought out doors to entertainment areas,” Guy says. “The colours complement those things, flower colours are being important. Containers play a big part in that as well, and it’s all-weather resistant.”

“A lot of what is going on in the industry today is an outdoor living lifestyle, bringing the indoors out, so colour schematics are being brought outdoors to the entertainment areas,” Guy says. “Colour gardening, whether it is in weather resistant containers, hanging baskets or planted as a border around your garden, is essential in the outdoor living lifestyle.”

Guy notes that water gardening is a big trend at the nursery, and that they sell fish and all the accoutrements that go along with it. There is also a landscaping division for gracious yards and properties year round, which displays numerous landscape themes from water features to patios and lighting. For the uninitiated, Humber Nurseries has a number of gardens displaying the ordinary to the unusual in plant material and hard landscaping materials, or one could look to the flowers and landscaping at Woodbine race track for an example—those are all the work of Humber Nurseries.

Cultivating customer relations

Being in business for over 60 years, customers have grown to know that Humber is going to be there for guidance as their gardens grown and mature, and with two and three year guarantees on most plant material customers can have the peace of mind that the nursery will be here to assist them if ever questions or concerns arise on their plants for many years to come. So what is next for the business? Bringing its famous customer service online. The Humber Nurseries now has its catalogue online, as well as a Twitter and Facebook account to keep customers engaged year round. Ways to save, manager specials, price lists, gift cards and online shopping make creating the perfect garden easier than ever, as well as a forum to ask gardening experts questions and a Green Thumb Guide.

“Look at the new colours and varieties introduced since your last garden,” instructs the Humber Nurseries site. “Find out which plants do best in shade and which ones in sunny areas. Take a mental walk around your garden and ask yourself, ’Where is a splash of colour needed?’ Remember, annuals bloom from spring until frost.”

Take this advice and you will be rewarded for it the summer long. Humber Nurseries is the expert on making a lasting impression in a garden and are ready to help in any way. Scores of testimonials on the website underline this point. “The glory of the garden lies in more than meets the eye,” wrote Rudyard Kipling. Humber Nurseries has understood this for two generations, helping Ontario bloom.