Business in the floriculture industry slowed in the 1930s. At about that time the FTD organization began to recognize the necessity to train and educate its members to better handle and arrange flowers. The first floral design school was inaugurated, and that and similar presentations were repeated regularly thereafter. Both the SAF and the FTD conducted effective advertising programs. The St. Paul and Minneapolis Florists' Clubs participated in cooperative advertising in their respective cities.
Harald Thompson, of Rochester's Holm and Olson, was concerned about the price effects of the industry's promoting accessories and supplies. He feared that this would increase the cost of floral arrangements to the point of causing a decrease in the use of flowers. He felt this trend could eventually make the price of flowers prohibitive to a large segment of the general public. He was not alone in his thoughts, and the industry has made an effort over the years to keep flowers available at several price and service levels.
The Florists' Wholesale Credit Association apparently began in this era. A primary purpose was to protect growers and wholesalers against losses created by selling on credit to financially troubled firms and individuals.
In 1931, a three-day florists short course was held in February. It included a tour of commercial greenhouses and retail flower shops plus a trade show and educational sessions. This type of session, including a design school, has continued to develop over time and has continued to be offered.
In 1930, the SAF, in conjunction with local Twin Cities florists, staged its eleventh National Flower Show in the Minneapolis Auditorium. Maxine Kaiser Russell wrote "more than a million plants were used in the 88,000 square foot area. It was the only show of such magnitude to come to the northwest area" as of that date. A total of 98,975 people viewed the show, which was open from March 29 to April 6.
In 1930, Howard C. Wolf opened his Wolf Greenhouse and Floral Company in Hibbing. By 1952, Ralph Johnson bought the business and discontinued the greenhouse. Rudy Maki bought the firm in 1971. A second shop was added in Irongate Mall. Maki also operates a spring-time greenhouse and garden center.
Harold and Margarite Waldo opened Forest Lake Greenhouses in 1930. They struggled through the depression selling mostly vegetables and cut flowers. It was difficult for the Waldos to convince the local undertaker that they could arrange funeral flowers. Previously, Holm and Olson would send the arrangements by train from St. Paul.
Clarence Engwall's grandfather homesteaded in the Hermantown area on the outskirts of Duluth. He built a hothouse for starting celery about 1910. Clarence's mother started growing a few geraniums and other flowers among the vegetables. Clarence returned to the business after working elsewhere. In 1930, he built more greenhouses and gradually shifted from vegetables to flowers. He developed a fair-sized greenhouse range, retail shop and garden center. Clarence was quite active in florist affairs. The business was sold in 1975.
Olga Bryant gave her husband Bob an orchid plant about 1930. He became so enamored with orchids that he left the stock brokerage business and built three greenhouses on his land adjacent to U.S. Highway 7 in Minnetonka. He assembled an outstanding collection of orchids, including some highly rated Cattleya cultivars. Bryant Orchids sold both to local florists and individuals. Bryant was the only commercial orchid specialist in Minnesota for many years. After his death in 1978, his wife gave the bulk of their plants to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Harold and Jessie Whiting opened Whiting's Flowers in Rochester in 1931. They added greenhouses in 1935 and a downtown store in 1937. Later their son Don and his wife Gladybell operated Whiting's Flowers and Greenhouse and added a greenhouse range outside of town. Don also raised mink and grew Christmas trees. Third generation Tom now runs the retail business, but discontinued the greenhouse operation.
Former Holm and Olson employees, Aaron Johnson and a Mr. Bennett, opened a flower shop in 1932 at Rice Street and University Avenue in St. Paul. Bennett left the business in 1935. The shop moved to Grand Avenue in 1936 and Aaron's son Gerald started working in it. Aaron Johnson Florist eventually became A. Johnson and Sons. A small greenhouse was added in 1970 and Gerald's son Tom started working in the shop in 1974. He took over in 1979 and continues in charge today.
In 1932, Ruth and E.C. ("Dick") Lehman started a business in Faribault selling plants from their home garden. Lehman Gardens added greenhouses in 1934 and started mail order sales of hardy perennials. Dick's brother Walter and his wife joined the firm, but then left the business in 1946. Walter started his own nursery business in Rochester. Horticultural hobbyist E.J. Kraus, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, contacted the firm after World War II, arranging for it to become an outlet for garden chrysanthemum and daylily cultivar introductions that he bred after retiring from his faculty position. Dick also bred and introduced some new cultivars.
Over the years, Dick Lehman provided a ready market for garden chrysanthemums introduced by the University of Minnesota's plant breeding program. He produced a sizeable annual color catalog, coined the phase 'Mums from Minnesota' and developed a thriving local and national mail order business. Busloads of people would descend on Faribault each fall to see the colorful indoor and outdoor displays of garden chrysanthemums. Leading garden club flower arrangers would set up flower arrangements there for viewing by thousands of visitors. Dick also sold select clematis, daylily and hosta cultivars. The business was sold to Richard Donahue in 1972.
Cedar Lake Floral was started in 1934 on Lake Street in Minneapolis by Peter Soteroplos and his son Nick. The business grew and Nick's brother Ted joined the firm after World War II. They were an early industry adopter of a profit sharing plan for employees, in the early 1950s. In the middle of the decade, they also printed the first colored floral advertisement distributed in a Minneapolis newspaper. It was a Thanksgiving ad that appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune. The business continued to grow over the years. Arny Rehman, the current owner, purchased the firm in 1980.
George Anderson started Wadena Floral and Greenhouses in 1933. In 1965, Tom Carew purchased the business. Ronald B. Peterson bought the firm in 1982 and expanded the greenhouse range. He specializes in hanging baskets, bedding plants and potted plants. Previously, he and his father Vic grew cut roses in greenhouses on Larpenteur Avenue in St. Paul.
In 1934, Frances Barr started Barr's Flower Shop near the busy intersection of Snelling and University Avenues in St. Paul. She married Larry Frickland and they operated the shop jointly. Their daughter, Gloria Solum, now manages the business.
Peter C. Hiebert started Hiebert Greenhouses in Mountain Lake in 1934. In 1951, Peter's daughter Marge married LaVerne Christianson, who became a business partner in 1975. They bought a range in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and later added a third one.
Carl Fischer started Fischer's Nursery in 1935 in St. Charles, and renamed it Noweta Gardens in 1942. Fischer, who had been a school teacher, started to grow gladiolus in the summertime. He met Ralph Baerman, an English teacher, who also owned Colonial Gardens in Rushford and grew gladiolus. Baerman obtained the outstanding hybridizing stock of Kristian Prestgard of Decorah Gardens in Decorah, Iowa. Fischer learned from Baerman's experiences and used the Prestgard breeding stock. Fischer bred gladiolus continuously thereafter and achieved international fame. He had won 39 All American Awards by 1979. Fischer developed green gladiolus and has won most of the awards that exist for gladiolus introductions. He still operates the business.
Numerous other gladiolus breeders operated on a smaller scale. Former farmer Carlton Hector turned to breeding gladiolus after having a heart attack. He developed the outstanding cultivars 'Spic and Span' and 'King David'. Other breeders included Arthur Kerner of St. Paul, E.H. Lins of Cologne and Carl Summers of Lake City.
Minneapolis Florists' Club 25th anniversary meeting in 1936. Identification by Mrs. Fred Busch and Maxine Kaiser Russell (left to right; *=first name not provided): (row 1, front) Mrs. Tom Lynes, unidentified, Mae Boeglin, Klara Kaiser, Mrs. Hans Rosacker, Sr., Leona Wirth, Theodore Wirth, Mrs. Edward Vasatka, unidentified; (row 2) Mrs. Backes*, Mrs. Herman Bachman (operated greenhouses in south Minneapolis, but not related to the Henry Bachman family), Mrs. Eric Stern, Edward Vasatka, Mrs. Fransen*, Anne Ruedlinger, Evelyn Van Lierop, Mrs. Fred Busch; (row 3) unidentified, Eric Stern, unidentified, Sena Rosacker, unidentified, Della Rosacker, Mrs. Barney Busch, Mrs. Rosene*, Mrs. Harvey Bliss, Henry Rosacker, Mrs. Arneson*, Max Kaiser, Mrs. Weeber (the greenhouse builder's wife); (row 4) unidentified, Harvey Bliss, Fred Busch, Tom Lynes, unidentified, unidentified, Louis Boeglin (Minneapolis Park Board Horticulturist), Arthur Ruedlinger, Hans Rosacker, Jr., Buster Bachman (son of Mrs. Herman Bachman), Barney Busch, Mr. Arneson*, Mr. Rosene*. (Photo courtesy Jan Vasatka)
Edward J. Strong started the Northside Floral greenhouses and flower shop in St. Cloud in the 1930s. In 1956, Gene Clark bought the business. Gene and his father had previously been employed at Kinsman's Greenhouses in Austin. In 1979, Gene sold Northside to Roger Elmquist. Then he built the Southway Greenhouse and Floral, also in St. Cloud, and still operates the firm.
Philip Ganapes started a route selling florists' greens out of his touring car in the 1930s. The business grew into Twin City Florist Supply on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. Thomas D. Wright later headed the firm until 1970. Ted C. Whalen, a civil engineer who joined the firm in 1942, served as president from 1970 to 1993. His son Tom, in the operation for many years, is now heading the business which has grown appreciably. It has many out-of-town and out-of-state customers, as well as local ones.
There was some labor strife in the industry associated with the Teamster's union activity during the 1930s.
The Chicago wholesale cut-flower firm, Amlings, opened a branch in Minneapolis in 1936. Carl Hanson was the unit's manager until 1945 when Jerry Sykora took over that role. A good business developed.
In 1939, the FTD held its National Convention in St. Paul.
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred P. Seeger bought Dale Street Greenhouses in 1936; sons Gerry and Richard took over in 1960. Betty Stromer, bought the firm in 1992, and has been rebuilding the physical plant and revitalizing the business.
In 1937, Lawrence and LeRoy Bergen purchased Bergen's Truck Farm in Detroit Lakes from their parents, who started the business in 1926. They built their first greenhouse in 1937 and started growing plants year-round. By 1954, Bergen's Greenhouses had 35,000 square feet under glass. Lawrence added a downtown retail store in the 1940s. LeRoy and his son Bob, who joined the firm in 1962, continued to expand the greenhouse range and the service area. In the mid 1960s, the firm's name was changed to Bergen's Wholesale Florists and currently back to Bergen's Greenhouses.
Ernest Binnie started growing vegetables in cold frames in 1932. He built his first greenhouse in 1938, and began growing a few flowering plants. His son Robert bought the business in 1957 and Binnie Floral was born. He became a retail grower and started a nursery and garden center in 1979. Currently the business is run by sons Bruce and Kirt who operate two retail shops. The greenhouses have been dismantled.
Bernard 'Red' Goldstein opened Metropolitan Florists in the Lumber Exchange building in Minneapolis in 1939, and closed it in 1941. He co-founded Radio City Florists in 1941, but left the firm in 1945 when he established Flowers, Inc. Red tried trucking tropical flowers from California to Minnesota in refrigerated vehicles. The venture did not succeed as the flowers froze enroute in the Rocky Mountains, but Flowers, Inc. continued to operate as a flower importer.
Albert J. Lauer and Arnold Zachman were probably the first full time commercial fabricators and builders of aluminum greenhouses in the country. The business grew out of a greenhouse and retail floral firm operated by Arnold's father, Albert Zachman.
The elder Zachman started his greenhouse and florist business at 1247 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, in 1910. By 1938, his son Arnold was in the business and he built a few steel greenhouses. However, when steel was not available during World War II, he turned to aluminum. His second cousin, Albert J. Lauer, an engineering graduate of the University of Minnesota, helped Arnold with his greenhouse design work. In 1947, Lauer took over the greenhouse construction business and Arnold Zachman continued growing and retailing flowers and plants.
In the 1960s, the Zachman site was purchased for construction of a supermarket. Lauer's son Ed now operates Albert J. Lauer, Inc., but Albert remains involved. Their headquarters is in Rosemount.
In 1938, a larger $6,000 Minneapolis Farmers' Market opened at its current location of Lyndale and Glenwood Avenues. The Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) paid one-third of the cost. There were nine sheds, each 320 x 43 feet, providing a total of 540 vendor stalls. Management of the facility was by the Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association. At least at first, the new farmer's market facility was always fully occupied. Over time, however, both consumer interest and the number of vendors declined, leaving only a portion of the market seeing regular use. Subsequent highway construction was routed through the area occupied by the market, and by 1960 only three of the original nine sheds remained.
Interest in both the St. Paul and the Minneapolis markets has seen growth and renewal in the 1990s and both facilities could easily use more stalls and more parking spaces to accommodate the renewed interest.
The Division of Horticulture at the University added an agricultural science undergraduate curriculum in 1935 for students planning to enter graduate school.
Floriculture research efforts applied to the growth and production of floricultural crops started to expand on a national basis in the 1930s.
Breeding of greenhouse chrysanthemums was initiated at the University of Minnesota in 1924, apparently by C.E. Cary, the ornamental horticultural faculty member at the time. Louis E. Longley continued the work with greenhouse chrysanthemums after 1929. Seven greenhouse cultivars were released from 1934 to 1940 (see Appendix B).
In 1936, Longley became the first person to publish results on a scientific, controlled study of the use of low temperature to hold cut flowers for extended time periods. It was printed in the proceedings of the American Society for Horticultural Science. Because the Division of Horticulture lacked adequate refrigerated facilities, he used the facilities of the neighboring Hermes Floral Company. Some years later, Kenneth Post, Ph.D., of Cornell University, conducted more extensive studies in this direction.
Longley was also a breeder of garden roses, releasing the cultivars 'Pink Rocket', 'Red Rocket' and 'White Dawn' in 1949, the year he retired. 'White Dawn' was a popular, double, white flowered climbing rose. He also contributed to the ornamental crabapple breeding program.
When Longley initiated the university's garden chrysanthemum breeding program in 1936, he could not have known how long-lived and highly successful it was destined to be. At the time there were no attractive garden chrysanthemums which bloomed prior to killing frosts in Minnesota and other areas of similar climate and latitude. The breeding program changed that completely, and by 1949 there were 26 introductions, many of which were grown on a national basis (see Appendix B). Assistant Professor R.A. Phillips was hired in 1942 to assist Longley and teach landscape classes.
Theodore Wirth retired as Minneapolis Superintendent of Parks in 1935. He had been instrumental in bringing the National Flower Show to Minneapolis in 1930, and was responsible for much of the development of the park system in Minneapolis.
Folmer Lorenzen became Como Conservatory Supervisor in 1936. He retired in 1952 and was replaced by Bob Schweitz. Les Day replaced Bob in 1978. Lorenzen was active with garden center businesses after 1952 and passed away in the early 1980s.
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