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The flowers of Christmas

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Park Greenhouse Garden Center Floyd Cover who, with wife Glenna, started the business on the western outskirts of Ripon, talks about the early years while standing next to a “tree” of red poinsetti...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent/

POSTED November 25, 2017 12:01 a.m.

Poinsettia, a Christmas floral staple, has acquired some fancy names through the years.
Princettia hot pink.
Autumn leaves.
Winter rose.
Ice Crystals.
Just to name a few. But when it comes to popularity, Red Poinsettia still rules the rainbow of colors for Christmas decorating, according to the owners of Park Greenhouse Garden Center and Nursery in Ripon. The nursery, owned and run by three generations of the Cover family, produces 10,000 to 20,000 of potted poinsettias at the 20-acre site on West Ripon Road just outside the city. While customers snap up the unusual colors and shapes Park Greenhouse creates every year, it’s the red potted poinsettias — from the smallest 4-inch pots to the five-gallon eye poppers — that quickly fill up shoppers’ carts every day. That is, every day since sale of the popular holiday flowers started here a week ago with special prices.
One of the newest varieties is the Winter Rose but the red poinsettia, “by far,” still rules the floral roost, said family patriarch and nursery co-founder Floyd Cover. He and wife Glenna started the business in the 1950s soon after they married and moved to this place at the western edge of Ripon. They still live in the house within the expansive property barely a stone’s throw from the nursery which prompted him to comment with a laugh that he has “never worked” in his life since he has never driven a car to work, much less commuted to his job site.
He was happy to point out that from that humble and small beginning, they now supply stores in the Golden State such as Save Mart “and others” as well as floral shops.
“We’re all over California now,” said the ever-amiable Cover who still runs around every day greeting customers and engaging them with a friendly conversation. It’s not unusual for customers to drop in and ask about a plant they don’t know a lot about, such as what transpired a few days ago. An avid gardener showed Cover the contents of a small covered container he brought with him. Inside were three gauzy butterfly-like items that the visitor had picked up under his mature Japanese maple tree and wanted to know what they were.
While the abovementioned poinsettia varieties are now available for purchase, the purple and the blue ones will not make an appearance until closer to Christmas. These are not actually real colored poinsettias, explained Karen Johnson, the Covers’ daughter who is now in charge of retail at the nursery. They are regular poinsettia plants which are sprayed and painted and then accented with glitters and colorful ribbons, she said. These are always quickly sold out and are very popular among customers, she added.
Her brother, Gary, has held the position of nursery manager for years now. Their parents, though, are still familiar faces at the store during business hours with Glenna taking charge of product arrangements.
The history of Park Greenhouse, in some way, reflects the growth of Ripon. The Covers opened Park Greenhouse as a retail business. But the town’s small population meant customer turnover was not fast enough to financially support the effort. So, in the 1970s, they went wholesale. Years later, as the city’s population burgeoned with the construction new houses which attracted an influx of new residents, the demand for plants and flowers to decorate the residential developments’ landscaping prompted the Covers to go back to their business roots and re-opened their retail business.
Today, Park Greenhouse is not just a popular destination for shoppers but for avid gardeners and garden members to learn planting techniques and other horticulture -related issues by attending the workshops offered by the garden center.
For more information about Park Greenhouse, call 209.599.3410 or visit their website at

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