Can you imagine what its like to stand in a greenhouse of gerbera flowers in full bloom? Its like standing in a confetti factory. You are surrounded in big, bright blooms in a riot of tangerine, raspberry, cantaloupe, ruby, watermelon, lemon yellow, pale white, and coral.
At Dramm & Echter’s greenhouse operation in Encinitas, the gerbera plants are set out in broad, colorful rows. Plants are grown hydroponically. So, no dirt for these beauties. Instead, they grow in a medium that supports their roots. Those roots are constantly bathed in a nutrient-rich solution that gets cycled and recycled through the greenhouse.
There’s more to the greenhouse than colorful flowers, however. This is a total sensory experience. Spirited music fills the air. The air’s humidity touches your skin. Not that its muggy; its just a kiss of moisture that makes skin feel a little tingly.
The light is bright but soft, thanks to the coat of white paint on the plastic covering overhead.
There’s activity everywhere you look. A group of women harvest flowers all morning. As the women walk up and down the aisles, their eagle eyes dart over the plants, looking for flowers at just the right degree of open. Then, quickly, they reached in a hand, snap a stem off at its base, and add it to the growing bunch of flowers in the crook of the other arm.
When their arms grow too heavy with flowers, the women deposit them into five-gallon buckets that sit at the end of each row. In short order, the buckets take on the appearance of giant, colorful bouquets.
A cart comes by every so often to whisk the buckets into the packing area. Within a day, those flowers will arrive at the International Floral Trade Center in Carlsbad or the warehouses of local wholesale bouquet makers, or on an airplane heading towards Spokane or Denver or San Francisco. And a few days after that, they could be in a vase on your table.