COVID-19 Comments

COVID update as of July 2nd, 2021.

As you know, Ontario is in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen, which for Green Thumb means that our retail capacity has increased to 50%. We are only allowed to have a certain number of happy gardeners on our premises at one time. There are clear government guidelines as to how many people are allowed to visit, based on available ‘walking around’ space. 

As of July, we will open our gates to walk-in customers – no need to make an appointment. If the number of visitors exceeds the number of customers that we are allowed to safely welcome at the garden centre, we will close the gates and ask you to wait on our grass outside. We think this will be the exception to the rule, based on previous years’ experience. In July and August, we will be open during the week from 11 – 4 and on Saturdays 10 – 3. Our hours will continue to be updated on our website.

We still have lots of goodies to show you – our perennials are looking especially bright and cheery. We still have a good supply of shrubs, vines, trees and so on. We continue to receive shipments of plants. If we don’t have what you are looking for, we will let you know if we can get your plant for you for this year or next.

Our crews are still allowed to garden with the latest provincial coronavirus restrictions. We can only have 2 people in our trucks – it’s the safe way to go, as well. That does slow down our productivity, however…so again, we’ll get to you just as soon as we can. High humidity and stormy weather also delay our work.  It would be helpful if we prepared your gardens last fall or in the spring, prior to planting, that you keep them weeded, as we discussed.  If you aren’t able to keep up with the weeding, that is fair enough, but it does add to your bill and delays us going to our next customer. Our intention is to get to everyone who we have committed to this season …the timeline may not be what we had hoped for. As we have news of a date, we will let you know.

You can be certain when it is safe for the staff and our customers to be open like the ‘good old days’, we will do it! 

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors.

Mary

Ottawa Public Health

Public Health Ontario

COVID update as of May 18th, 2021.

As you know, the ‘Stay at home’ order continues…it’s a good opportunity for everyone to work on and enjoy their gardens and homes. Customer traffic at the garden centre is brisk, and at sometimes overwhelming. 

We are only allowed to have a certain number of happy gardeners on our premises at one time. There are clear government guidelines as to how many people are allowed to visit, based on available ‘walking around’ space. 

I have decided that in the interest of the safety for our customers, that we welcome you by appointment only. There are no sidewalks or adequate grassy spots outside our gate where you can safely line up.  For those of you that have visited us before, you know that our road traffic can be quite busy. (If you make an appointment and then aren’t able to make it, please get in touch with us via email or phone, so that we can then offer up your spot to someone else.)

Many of our suppliers are delayed in getting us our stock. Difficulties run from finding transportation, receiving their supplies to do their magic and then forward the plants or supplies on to us, snow storms last month that created substantial frost damage to shrubs and trees (these plants will still come to us, but later than usual!) and then a higher demand than even last year for all things gardening.

Our crews are still allowed to garden with the latest provincial coronavirus restrictions. We can only have 2 people in our trucks – it’s the safe way to go, as well. That does slow down our production, however…so again, we’ll get to you just as soon as we can. Spring clean ups are on the homeward stretch.

You can be certain when it is safe for the staff and our customers to be open like the ‘good old days’, we will do it!

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors.

Mary

Ottawa Public Health

Public Health Ontario

COVID update as of April 21st, 2021.

We’ve gone from ‘emergency brake’ to a lock down to a ‘stay at home order’…so where are we now?  As a garden centre, we are allowed to be open, however with a very limited number of visitors. I have decided that in the interest of everyone’s health and safety, we will gladly accept curbside pickup orders and/or set up appointments for a store browsing visit or a garden planning chat (all masked, of course – floral appreciated!). Please call the store (613-228-0224) or email us at greenthumbgarden@sympatico.ca to make arrangements. If you are coming to Green Thumb, please remember the 2 metre guideline. Once the current restrictions are updated, we’ll look at the best way to handle garden centre purchases.

For those of you who have placed orders, we will get in touch with you when the time is right. We have some of your plants already, but it is too early to plant them … we will look after these plants until they are ready to leave their current home. Our suppliers continue to do their best in getting their goodies to us.  There are delays, not the least of which is finding transportation to get our orders to us. One of our growers had to shut down for 2 weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak on their farm. Please be patient – we’re all in this together.

Our crews are allowed to garden with the latest provincial coronavirus restrictions. We can only have 2 people in our trucks – it’s the safe way to go, as well. That does slow down our production, however…so again, we’ll get to you just as soon as we can.

As one of our Green Thumb veterans said: ‘Be happy – you’re at Green Thumb!’

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors

Mary

Ottawa Public Health

Public Health Ontario

COVID update as of April 12th, 2021.

Here we are again or I should say still. With the current province ‘Emergency Brake’ guidelines in place, in the short term we are opening for curb-side pickup and in person appointments. Please email us (greenthumbgarden@sympatico.ca) or phone the store (613-228-0224) for details. If you do set up an appointment and come to Green Thumb, there will be notices at our doors reminding you to wear a mask (floral, or at least fun, are suggested!), keep your 2 metres distance and to ‘self-assess’ your health, before you come into our premises. The short story is, if you don’t feel well, please do not come to the garden centre (or anywhere else!) or if you have reason to believe that you or someone in your bubble may have or have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home. An appointment can be to pick something up or to bring in your ‘garden query’ or to request advice on a garden challenge. 

Our orders are placed; setting up the garden centre and planting are well underway. We intend to have a full selection of perennials, shrubs, roses, vines, trees, fruit bushes as well as bedding plants (edible and ornamental) and all of the gardening supplies and decorations that you might like. Some plants may not be available this year, but I’m sure we can jointly come up with another choice for your garden. Most of our prices remain the same as in previous years. When you do see a price increase, it is because our suppliers have increased our costs.

We were not able to fill some orders from last year – I am sorry. We have reviewed most of these prior ones for 2021 and have been in touch with you. If we have inadvertently missed yours, please get in touch with us. We continue to accept orders for plants etc. If the demand outpaces supply especially for annuals, veggies and herbs, we may just let you know the goodies have arrived as opposed to putting anything aside for you.

Our gardening services will resume closer to the end of April.

For now turnaround on emails and phone calls is prompt – phone calls on the same day; emails within a couple…fingers (and thumbs!) crossed this will continue. 

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors

Mary

Ottawa Public Health

Public Health Ontario

Questions are welcome. With thanks.

Mary

COVID update as of July 1st, 2020.

With all of the progress, we as a city, are making in reducing COVID-19 cases, visits to the garden centre are going very smoothly.  Thanks for doing your part in keeping your 2 metre distance and wearing a mask (floral, or at least fun, are suggested!) .  It is rare now to have to line up to get into the garden centre.  You might need to line up at the cash.  Also, our customers often bring in their ‘garden queries’ and request advice on garden challenges.  These discussions are just as important as paying for your plants…you might need to wait in line for that information, too.

Do visit, wander, browse and shop.  There are just a couple of areas that are off limits to our visitors – please leave our hoop house (green house) and our sold area to our Green Thumbers.  It’s never a fun surprise for us to find out that someone has ‘shopped’ from a plant supply that has already been put aside for another customer or a gardening job.  These 2 off-limit areas are clearly marked.

It’s not too late to plant, as long as you are able to water your new plants every day for 2 weeks and then weekly until the ground is frozen.  No dashing away for a weekend getaway, if you aren’t able to arrange for the watering of your new acquisitions. 

We are finally able to tackle some of our ‘gardening projects’ now that nearly all of our clean ups and annual planting projects are complete.  We are still reducing the number of gardeners in our trucks and our crews are coming back to the store at lunchtime for hand-washing etc.  Slower to complete gardening projects, with these additional COVID-19 safety precautions.

Turnaround on emails and phone calls is getting quicker as the incoming volumes are decreasing.  There are still some delays. 

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors

Mary

Ottawa Public Health

Public Health Ontario

COVID update as of June 12, 2020.

We’ve re-grouped and re-stocked at the garden centre after our temporary late-May closure.

The past week or so has gone very smoothly.  We are happy to welcome you back to our property for wandering, browsing and maybe a bit of shopping.  Please remember you may need to line up to get into Green Thumb and then again to pay; please remember to maintain a 2 metre distance between you, your fellow gardeners and our staff.  A mask is recommended (floral even better) – you can never be too safe!  Our COVID-19 hours are on our website.

There are just a couple of areas that are off limits to our visitors – please leave our hoop house (green house) and our sold area to our Green Thumbers.  It’s never a fun surprise for us to find out that someone has ‘shopped’ from a plant supply that has already been put aside for another customer or a gardening job.  These 2 off-limit areas are clearly marked.

We are still getting in plant and supply shipments from our growers, who are scrambling as much as we are with high volumes and reduced labour, due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Please be patient.  All of our back orders of annuals, veggies and herbs have been cancelled by our suppliers.  This means we will not be able to fill some of your orders – I am very sorry for the inconvenience.

On our landscaping front, we are on the homeward stretch of garden clean ups – next up, planting and transplanting; pruning and mulching.

Turnaround on emails and phone calls is getting quicker as the incoming volumes are decreasing.  There are still some delays. 

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors

Mary 

As of Monday, May 25:

In the interests of the health and safety of our staff, our regular store hours are suspended until Monday, June 1st.  Our plan is to be back up and running and open to the public then – Sunday to Friday 11 – 4 and Saturday 9 – 4.  We need time to re-group and to look after our existing orders that have come in via a request in person, over the phone or by email.  We hope to make these orders available to you this week.  We will be in touch with you re details for pick up.  Further phone or email requests are welcome; earlier orders will be looked after first, however.

Eager gardeners who have visited Green Thumb are evidently having difficulty in curbing their enthusiasm.  Some are not respecting the physical distancing.  It’s disappointing too that some of our customers are even shopping from our sold plant areas, not understanding that these plants are not available for sale to them.  Sometimes, it is the minority that spoils the fun for others. 

Our suppliers are doing their best in keeping us nicely stocked – they too are overwhelmed so our plants and supplies are coming in on a less timely schedule than usual and may be delayed.

Our gardening services are continuing over this week and onwards.

We look forward to working with everyone in helping to enjoy gardening and being outside!

Mary

As of May 20, 2020

We continue to operate with:  Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors in mind.

Please note:  we are temporarily reducing our store hours so that we can ensure a safe working environment for our staff, and safety for our customers and all of our visitors.  Also, when we have a delivery truck on our property, we will be closing our gates until the plants and supplies are safely unloaded.  It is not safe to have enthusiastic gardeners gathering around the truck (and staff!) to see what floral gems are arriving.  Our growers and suppliers are as run ragged as we are, partially due to the delay in offshore workers arriving in Canada and then excessive demands for their plants.  They can’t always offer us what they had hoped, and their trucks are sometimes delayed in getting to Green Thumb.

We have very keen gardeners visiting Green Thumb – thank you for all of your business and your positive comments.  Indeed, there are sometimes line ups to get into our store and to pay at our cash…both due to higher than usual sales and the need to keep everyone physically distant.  Our phone and email are equally crazy busy.  Please be patient. We are all still learning about the COVID-19 way of doing business.

You are still welcome to visit the garden centre.  Curbside pickup sales continue.  We are adjusting the hours in the short term.  Our store hours are now:

  Mon-Fri Sat Sun
April 9-6 9:30-5 closed
May, June 11-4 9-4 11-4
July, August 11-4 9-4 11-4
September 9-6 9:30-4 closed
October 9-5 9:30-4 closed

These reduced hours should also help us to catch up on putting together orders for curbside pickup as well as replying to phone calls and emails more quickly.  If these times are not convenient for you, please get in touch with us a few days in advance, and we will see what we can do for you.

Regarding our gardening services… Please remember that we are reducing the number of gardeners in our trucks, due to physical distancing;  some crews are starting later each day, so that we don’t have excessive employees in our sheds all at the same time; we also have to allow time in each day so that our gardening ladies and gents can return to the store for lunch as well as hand-washing and bathroom breaks as there are limited public washrooms available.  This means it takes way longer to get your garden looked after!

As of May 7, 2020

Oh my gosh, things have been wild!

These curbside pickups are a runaway child.

Then on Friday, we’ll open the fort—

The lineups might go ‘round Tristan Court!

Our ditty sums up all things Green Thumb.  We are all still learning about the COVID-19 way of doing business. Our phone and email are equally crazy busy.  Please be patient.

Garden centre access resumes Friday, May 8.  Curbside pickup sales continue.  There are very strict guidelines that we are following as our message is the same:  Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors.

Our store hours are plentiful although not the same as in previous years – we are adjusting them in the short term.  If these times are not convenient for you, please get in touch with us a few days in advance, and we will see what we can do for you.

This week has been our test-drive for our gardening services.  To date all things are going well.  Please remember that we are reducing the number of gardeners in our trucks, due to social distancing;  some crews are starting later each day, so that we don’t have excessive employees in our sheds all at the same time; we also have to allow time in each day so that our gardening ladies and gents can return to the store for lunch as well as hand-washing and bathroom breaks as there are limited public washrooms available.  This means it takes way longer to get your garden looked after!

As of April 28, 2020

Curbside pickup is a ‘new’ one for us.  It’s difficult without seeing our customers to determine exactly what you want – ordering ½ a dozen tomato plants, a rose or some mulch requires some discussion.  We don’t have the benefit of finding out exactly what you want right away.  Do you want cherry tomatoes or brandywine?  Will your rose get 6 hours sun?  How much of an area are you covering with the mulch – is this new or a ‘top up’ – composted pine or cedar?  All that to say, each transaction takes a ton of time.  Curbside pickup is also clearly an outing for us gardeners!  Our phone messages and emails are way behind.  We have less staff at the store, due to social distancing and only one person on the phone, due to sanitation.  Please be patient!  Thanks to all of you for your continued business and to all of our new customers that are vowing to shop local from hereon in.

Here’s a fun article on garden centres and Green Thumb:  

https://ottawacitizen.com/business/local-business/garden-centres-will-open-but-its-not-exactly-business-as-usual/wcm/a6977b8a-6756-492d-b23b-6130ad68a5dd/

Please have a look.   You might even recognize where the picture is taken!

Still encouraging news coming from the government but no real details as to when we can open our garden gate to you…fingers crossed it will be soon.  Of course,  we will need to ensure that everything we are asked to do by the Government we have in place. Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors.

What a great way to spend your at home time – in your garden…enjoy!

As of April 17th:

Positive news today regarding the COVID-19 numbers.  That, together with encouraging discussions between our trade association Landscape Ontario and the government regarding garden centres and gardening businesses operating in the Coronavirus environment, we might be getting closer to being able to offer more of our usual Green Thumb services.

When this happens and it could be days, it could be weeks, we (as in Green Thumb and the other members in our gardening field) will be given strict directions as to what we can and cannot do.  No doubt, we will be told to continue social distancing at the store, which seems to be working well for reducing the spread of the virus.  I imagine we will have to limit numbers coming into our premises – some gardeners will have to wait outside our gates …although, I don’t think I’ll be putting tape on the street, unless I am told to!  We may have to have shorten business hours.  I am sure there will also be a list as to what gardening tasks we are allowed to do e.g. maybe we can rake and clean up beds; perhaps we may not be able to plant annuals – we will have to see.

Even when we get the green light for more of Green Thumb to open to our customers, I will not be able to immediately flip the sign from closed to open.  We will update our safety policies and procedures, do the additional training for our staff and then operate within the parameters that we have been given.  It won’t be business as usual, but it sure will be nice to offer more than curbside pickup and waving over the fence to our customers.  

Hope this really means we will see you soon.

As of Lucky April 13, 2020

More news for you…

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors.

Still no definitive news on the COVID-19 front re the garden centre and gardening services…so closed we will stay for now, with pick-up service at our curb for orders placed via email or phone.   Our clean ups and planting will have to wait.

Important to know that although we place our orders in the Fall, we do add to the orders throughout the season.  Many of our suppliers have very dedicated off-shore workers that return to these employers year after year. Many of these workers have not been able to make it back to Canada.  What this means to you and me is some of our plants and supplies may be delayed in arriving or will not arrive at all, as we can’t expect our suppliers to produce the same quantity of plants etc. with an incredibly reduced labour force.  

We now have seeds and grass seed, as well as a wide selection of composts, soils and mulch and fertilizer available.  It is way too early to be planting perennials, shrubs etc.

My intent is to still get things up and running – still with flexibility.  

Stay tuned!

As of April 5, 2020

More news for you…

Safety first for our staff, customers and all of our visitors.

My intent is to still get things up and running – still with flexibility.  

Our usual ‘Safety Day’ with a guest speaker from Workplace Safety and Prevention Services has been cancelled, meaning we are now developing an individualized on-line course for our staff members.  Why is this important to you…we never start our Green Thumb gardening year off without each of us being ‘recertified’. 

In some ways, nothing has changed on the COVID-19 front re the garden centre and gardening services; in others, lots have.

We still do not have a clear answer on whether or not we are an essential service as defined by the government, although we gardeners believe we are.

The earliest we will be open is after April 13th – this date might very easily be extended by our government.

As of right now, you are welcome to send us an email or phone us with your order.  We will mutually agree on it as well as the timing and payment. For now, these orders will be available for pick up at our front gates.  (We plan to have an on-line plant order form soon as well as a delivery service within the Ottawa area.)

Stay tuned!

As of March 29, 2020:

Safety first for our staff, customers, and all of our visitors

We are following the provincial government’s recommendation of being closed for 2 weeks – so the earliest we will be officially open is Thursday, April 9th.  We really aren’t an essential service even though all of us gardeners think (and know!) we are.  We’ll see where we are after that… with Corona virus and the weather.  Stay tuned for our actual Opening Date!

The garden centre is waking up.  Seeds and fertilizer have arrived. We are taking the plants out of their shelters. We will start planting our babies in our hoop house the week of April 5th.  These plants will become part of our regular perennial selection once we are open.

To start with, plants etc. will be available for pick up – we are working out the details.  We will be accepting orders via phone, email and soon via an on-line form.

The plan is for our gardening, garden maintenance and planting services to continue.  We have to make sure our staff and our customers are safe.  Flexibility will be needed here, too…we might have to use smaller crews to accommodate social distancing; we might need to re-think our practices for tools, plants etc. ; jobs might be delayed.

As a Green Thumb group, we are putting our heads together to develop workable plans for as many of Green Thumb’s usual products and services. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone.  I’ll regularly update our COVID comments as I have news.