“Frozen” with holiday warmth: Poinsettias ‘let go’ at Esbenshade’s

By on November 25, 2014

It’s an image frozen in every holiday setting: a bright, healthy poinsettia, the tropical flower holding its own against hardy evergreens as the signature plant of the season.

Shoppers see them everywhere and, in rural Brecknock Township, Lancaster County, Esbenshade’s Greenhouse boasts poinsettias in nearly every color of the rainbow.

While the plants are Christmas-centered for most of us, the work of growing them starts just about the time Fourth of July fireworks are being launched.ER20141126_CCocPoinsettias5

“In July we get started with the cuttings at our parent store, the wholesale store in Lititz,” said Jonathan Phillips, greenhouse manager. “The bigger poinsettias we begin to pot in later July.”

With Thanksgiving looming, Black Friday following, and the Advent season starting Sunday, the rush for poinsettias will soon be on, said Phillips.

Thousands of plants in scores of colors fill the greenhouse at 1749 Bowmansville Road.

Each season, there’s usually a special color that trends for shoppers, Phillips said.

“Last year there were various shades of pink that all tended to fly out of here, especially the novelty pinks” he said.

Still — and it is clear to even the most casual greenhouse observer — there is a clear standard that remains the favorite year after year.

“Red is always the most popular,” he said, “and accounts for more than three-quarters of our sales.”

Still, poinsettias on display boasted vibrant shades of pink, peach, snowy white, ivory, even blue and purple. The latter two categories are considered novelty poinsettias which are painted to display those colors, Phillips said. More of the painted plants are expected to arrive this week.

In addition to the poinsettias, other top sellers for the season include live and artificial Christmas trees, holiday greens arrangements including wreaths and funeral logs, and decorations.

The Esbenshade’s store is filled with workers who have a fairly long tenure with the company. Phillips joined the firm in 2006, first working at the Fleetwood, Berks County store.

Among other workers are Judi Stauffer who specializes in annuals and has been on staff for 14 years and Suzanne Tucker, who concentrates on the perennials and is a 10-plus year employee.

The full staff will take part in the annual Black Friday “Holiday Evening of Joy” set for 6 to 9 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Frozen,” the blockbuster Disney movie, and the popular characters are on display throughout the greenhouse. Tiffany Miller, an employee and gifted artist, painted all the characters, including an enchanted Elsa and her sister Anna, while Tucker created a convincing stuffed “Olaf.”ER20141126_CCocPoinsettias8

There is also a “cutout” scene that will enable attendees to become the face of their favorite character on Friday night.

Throughout the evening summer seasonal cashier Beatrice Osborne, a performing arts student at Temple University, will be singing. (“Let it Go” is sure to be the request of the night!)

There will also be luminaries lighting the pathways and strings of lights to transform the greenhouse into a sparkling wonder, bonfires where folks can roast their own hot dogs (all food is free), live Christmas characters, seasonal decorating ideas and tips, and horse-drawn carriage rides from 6 to 8 p.m.

“It’s my favorite time of the year,” said Stauffer.

“It’s full steam ahead now, the days just fly by,” said Tucker.

And though the holiday season looms and winter has yet to officially arrive, spring is just around the corner literally in the greenhouse.

“In February, we start to pot up the plants for the perennials,” said Tucker. “That’s coming up fast and spring is our busiest season.”

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