Columbia Association’s Greenhouse

Did you know that Columbia Association (CA) has a greenhouse? I had heard about the greenhouse from Jan Clark, landscaping architect for CA, when I asked her about some of the tropical plants found around CA facilities (like the banana trees I talked about here). She told me at the time that CA protects many of its tender perennials in the greenhouse.

I suddenly knew the trick as to how CA could grow such big, pretty and showy tropical plants — plants that I couldn’t grow easily in my garden. CA has a greenhouse! So those pretty canna lilies and the like migrate every year from their homes around the fitness facilities to the greenhouse over the winter. Come spring, they go right back to their same spot at the fitness facility, making it appear to the non-observant eye (like mine) that they somehow weathered through the winter, somehow managing to defy the laws of nature by surviving the harsh cold.

The greenhouse is found at the very back of the maintenance facility property, and it’s beginning to fill up with those tender perennials I mentioned above. Come spring, the landscaping team will move the perennials back out, as well as adding annuals purchased from growers.

I asked Jan if CA grew its own annuals since it has a greenhouse, and she said CA does not. The greenhouse is big enough for housing special plants that would be too costly to buy year after year and for holding easy-to-propagate plants, but it’s not big enough to house the thousands of annuals needed for spring planting every year. For that, CA would need to run its own private nursery. This was obvious to me after I visited the site at fall planting time. This fall, Jan Clark bought 24,120 pansies. That’s 1,608 flats of pansies! The greenhouse was surrounded in front, back and to the side, and it was also filling up inside with the delivery of the fall flowers.

Discovering the greenhouse was a fun find! It’s not something easy to discover, as it’s tucked away, but it explained a lot more about CA’s ability to showcase such wonderful plant specimens around CA facilities.
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Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.


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