By Sarah Campbell
It looks like spring inside the Pinehurst greenhouse well before the season arrives.
The first batch of bulbs are delivered at the start of February. By the end of March, the 17,000-square-foot facility is filled with flowers as far as the eye can see.
About 250,000 annuals are grown inside the massive structure each year. Half of those are planted during the spring.
“We grow all the annuals for the grounds, including the clubhouses at No. 6, 7, 8 and 9,” Grounds Assistant Superintendent Chris Jones said.
Up to 10 different plants, including dwarf zinnias, begonias, marigolds and black-eyed Susans, are grown for the spring season.
“We rotate plants from year to year and grow different colors of the same plants to mix it up,” Jones said.
Fall is slightly less hectic, although the same number of flowers are planted.
“It’s mostly pansies,” Jones said. “Our spring is a little busier because we do some propagation ourselves.”
The plants spend about 6 to 8 weeks inside the greenhouse before being put out on property.
Jones and a team of three full-time staffers handle the greenhouse operation.
“We do all the watering and all the fertilizing by hand,” he said. “There’s also a lot of spacing that’s done because some plants require extra space to grow to the correct size.”
When it’s time to plant the bulbs, the greenhouse team typically receives a helping hand from the grounds crew.
“About 15,000 bulbs may be delivered in a day, so we come and help put the plugs into pots,” Grounds Superintendent Chris Burrows said.
The greenhouse staff also stays busy tending to the plants that go inside the 150 clay pots throughout the property. You’ve probably seen them around the pool and at the entrances to the spa, tennis club and clubhouses.
“We try to get all those out by Mother’s Day,” Jones said.
Betty is in charge of putting together all the potted plants, a duty she takes pride in. It’s tricky business since some of the pots are positioned in shady areas, but it’s a labor of love.
“I really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s gratifying to see how they turn out.”
When Betty is done with the potting, she spends the bulk of her time out on property tending to the interior plants.
“I do all the shining and watering to make sure they look nice for guests,” she said.
One whole section of the greenhouse is used to care for interior plants like the ficus trees used to spruce up event space.
Burrows said it’s convenient to have the greenhouse on site to cater to each group’s specific needs.
“Not every place has something like this in their backyard,” he said.
Pinehurst has had a greenhouse since Burrows began work here in 1996.
“I think they built the first one around 1993 or 1994,” he said. “It was really primitive with plywood that made up the sides of it.”
Today’s greenhouse is built with polycarbonate plastic that provides good light transmission. It is equipped with a fan system to circulate air throughout the structure.
Burrows said technology has grown “leaps and bounds” throughout the past 20 years.
“All the controls are electronic now,” he said. “We used to have an old school dial.”
Those controls help regulate the temperature within the greenhouse. It hovers around 72 degrees during growing seasons.
Jones has had to get inventive to help plants that require a lot of sunlight grow during the winter. He added a large tube that pumps heat into a small plastic-covered area that houses the plants.
“It inflates and looks like a giant plastic burrito, but it works,” he said.
Sarah Campbell is the Resort’s content & social media specialist.