In the Golden Isles, warm weather often means big business.
Whether it is tourists flocking to hotels or diners enjoying outdoor restaurants, sunshine translates into a healthy bottom line for multiple industries.
It is certainly something Dawn Hart knows well. The owner of Ace Garden Center, 2807 Demere Road, St. Simons Island, always sees an influx of business at her location as spring looms. And, she says, it’s been no different this year.
“It’s been very brisk due to what we’re calling an early spring. So far and we’re very pleased. I’ve been scrambling to keep the shelves stocked and replenish some things,” she said.
The weather has been so pleasant lately that Hart has even had to start bringing in plants that she would otherwise wait to order. Customer demand has been that high.
“Citrus, for instance. We are bringing that in next week and we usually wait until the end of March. But the weather is looking pretty good here,” she said.
“I am reminding people to take the appropriate precautions if we should have a freeze and we’ve had freezes as late as March 27.”
Hart has discovered that shoppers usually have their own views on when they should start introducing new plants into their yards.
“Some people’s grandmothers have told them not to plant before Easter and of course this year Easter is late. But at this point it is anybody’s guess. Some people get antsy and want to get out there and get their finger nails dirty,” she said.
“Of course, there are some more tender annuals that could be killed if there is a freeze. So we’re kind of waiting on those. But people are ready.”
That is true locally as well as nationally. As the weather warms, garden and landscape-related businesses see a big boost. Like Hart, Chris Saunders, owner of Saunders Landscaping on St. Simons Island, gets incredibly busy during the spring.
“We absolutely get busier. We employ 15 and around this time of year, we add a couple more,” he said.
This year, however, Saunders said things are even busier than usual. The company which does both maintenance as well as design and installs have more work due to the damage left by Hurricane Matthew.
“We always get busy with design and install in March. But this year the hurricane brought so much damage to landscaping ... we actually started getting busy in January.
And now that we are in March, we are doing a lot of reinstalls with the warm temperatures and lack of winter,” he said.
“Our busiest time of year is from March to July, for sure.”