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Cold Weather Has Chilling Effect On Garden Centers

Gethesemane Garden Center has plenty of flowers, but people have been reluctant to buy them with the recent colder weather. That's expected to change now that temperatures are rising. (CBS)

Gethesemane Garden Center has plenty of flowers, but people have been reluctant to buy them with the recent colder weather. That’s expected to change now that temperatures are rising. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The warmer temperatures can’t come soon enough for garden centers and nurseries in the Chicago area.

That’s because the soggy, chilly spring is keeping customers away, CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports.

Kathy Devaney’s spring garden in Lakewood-Balmoral is a shadow of its usual self.

Unseasonably cold, wet weather has thrown off growing cycles and dampened her plans.

“I should have pots out. I should have flowers out,” she says. “It’s just so frustrating. You are ready to dig. You are really ready to dig and the ground is frozen.”

Plenty of colorful flowers and plants have been shipped to local garden centers.  But look around and you’ll see the weather has kept a healthy crop of garden shoppers from sprouting.

At Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville, eight staffers are prepared to handle up to 80 customers at a time, but only a handful are stopping by.

Traffic is down so much, they’re ordering less inventory.

“Typically, at this time of year, we are selling so much product that it never even comes into these tables — people are grabbing it off the racks on the sidewalk, ” says Gethsemane’s Carol Rice, pointing to the ample supply on her courtyard sales tables. 

The sidewalk racks are still brimming with blooms.  There are so many that staff, at night, is forced to take extra steps to save them by wrapping each in protective shrink wrap.  They’ve also installed frost cloth to hold off damaging winds.

Rice says it’s created an economic hardship for the center.  They planned on paying March bills with April and May profits that have yet to materialize.

So they sit and wait , thousands of vibrant reminders that spring is here, as soon as the weather sets gardeners free.

Believe it or not, garden centers have been reluctant to make certain sales.  They’ve been warning customers that weather conditions weren’t the best for the long-term survival of their purchases.

All of that will hopefully be changing with the warmer but still rainy forecast on call for the weekend.