Carievale Greenhouse opened its doors to its first customers on May 1, after a break of a few years.
Holly Bayliss, the new enthusiastic owner of the operation, said that while her main profession is a cook, plants have always been a passion, which ended up turning into her new job. She had some experience in gardening back in Grade 10 when she worked in a greenhouse, but her interest was always there.
"I just really love gardening and canning," said Bayliss.
"This house has been my neighbour's ... And I was like 'It's a beautiful house and a beautiful business.' And my family said, 'Well, why don't you buy it?' I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, I could just do that.'"
The opportunity has always been there, as Bayliss' neighbours closed the greenhouse a few years ago, but she didn't think of it until about a year ago. Last April she started looking into the project and in October she purchased the greenhouse. By May 1 she had a broad selection of plants she grew this spring.
"March 1 is when we started planting. And we have a little bit of everything, lots of vegetables, lots of interesting fun, strange things like loofah gourds, cucamelons and pink celery."
Bayliss said that rare and weird plants, like cucamelons – which are also known as mouse melons, and are toonie-sized watermelons that taste like cucumbers and grow on a vine – are her favourite part of the project.
"That's what I've always loved, I've loved growing weird things," Bayliss said.
"The pink celery is bright fluorescent pink. It tastes just like celery and you can eat it. It's kind of cool. And then loofah gourds are my favourite. They grow like zucchini, and in the fall, they turn brown and crisp up and the skin falls off. And underneath they are like a bath (sponge). You can scrub your body with it or they are fantastic dish scrubbers. I just love the weird things."
They also have some flowers that are a bit different from wide-spread petunias and other traditional annuals.
"I got these cool spider Osteospermums. They look like white daisies, but the petals almost look like little spoons. Oh, they're really weird, they look freaky almost, but I really like those. And there are moonflowers. We love moonflowers. The seed is really hard to find, in the southern states, they're considered a weed. Here they grow amazing. We don't have hot enough weather to make them grow like weeds. They grow flowers that are six to eight inches wide, as big as your hand, and they are bright white, but they only come out at night. They look so cool in a campfire spot where you're sitting around at night and there are just these big white flowers. But as soon as the sun comes up, they go away," explained Bayliss with passion.
The 4,000 square foot Carievale Greenhouse also offers a wide variety of all kinds of traditional vegetables and annual flowers suitable for the climate. Besides, they have a good variety of perennials, shrubs and trees. On top of that, Bayliss has a good selection of canned vegetables and jams from the last season and is looking forward to doing much more with the greenhouse leftover vegetables this year.
Bayliss said that the Carievale Greenhouse has been running for about 50 years, but it's been closed for the last eight years before she purchased it. And now it's back again.
"It was just sitting here waiting for someone," Bayliss said.
For her, the new business became a real-life learning curve.
"Lots of learning. (One of the discoveries was that) everything is huge, everything's about a foot tall. I learned very quickly that one week in a greenhouse is three weeks in the garden. Every single morning, we can go in there and more things are blooming, more things are growing, they grow incredibly fast."
Wanda Bayliss, Holly's mother, is her biggest helper with everything going on in the greenhouse.
"I wouldn't have any of this if it wasn't for her and her love for plants, I got that inherited," Bayliss said.
Carievale Greenhouse is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. every day.