Winter Escapes: A Trip to Richter’s Nursery in Goodwood

It being Reading Week I was hoping for a getaway. In the weeks coming up to this one I indulged in a little fantasy web browsing, looking at south sea island destinations. Pure fantasy this year, but I started thinking about other destinations closer to home that would give me that sunny, summery “growing things” feeling.

I remembered Richter’s Nursery in Goodwood, a little north of Toronto. Funnily enough, I went to high school with the Richter kids, and a friend of mine worked their nursery one summer. A Lantana that she brought home for me from their greenhouse was really my first “official” houseplant. The first plant I’d ever had success with and one that got me going on my life-long gardening bug. So I have a lot to thank the family-run Richter’s for. Oddly, I’d never actually been to their greenhouses myself.

As I’d never been, and always meant to go, I scheduled a trip yesterday with a friend who also had a free day mid-week. Hurrah!

Drove north of the city in somewhat blizzardy conditions: the famous “scattered flurries” they talk about. First treat on the snowy drive is actually getting past the city limits. Wonderful to see the snow on the masses of white spruce on the drive north. It’s a quick journey on the 404 to Bloomington sideroad, then 18 kms further east to Goodwood.

On arrival at Richters, there was disappointment at first, as it seemed closed up. The website says open all year round, but as they are undergoing renovations at the moment, things look a bit shuttered and the big greenhouse door sticks a bit and didn’t allow an easy entry. After running around the back, the kind Richter’s lady came to the front to open the door for us.

We were then met with a warm, scented oasis of green things, a free herbal tea dispensing area, and herbal beauty in pots all around in their retail area. We poured ourselves each a cup of herbal tea and spent the next hour pottering over their growing benches, in their wonderful, immaculate greenhouse. We basked in the warmth and read the helpful signposts explaining the highlights of all the herbs they have on offer. This is a “greenhouse effect” we can believe in!

On the way out, I noticed a huuuuge scented “Mother”geranium perched on top of a cupboard, which was spilling regally over with immense leaves and stunning pink blooms. I asked the friendly Richters lady which geranium it was, as I definitely wanted one of those. She said, it’s no longer available, and didn’t know the name, then said, to my delight, “Would you like a cutting?” Would I???? Yes, please! She snipped off two generous pieces for me and for my friend, and off we went happily with our freebies and our herb purchases. For me, a small tray of lavender, rosemary, lemon verbena, and some other delights. Thank you, Richter’s lady. Couldn’t have asked for a better bonus to our visit!

Another highlight of a trip to Goodwood is the wonderful coffee shop and bakery on the highway just to the west of Richters called Annina’s Bakeshop. When you go to Richters, you absolutely must stop there for a coffee, snack and some of their delightful baked goods. I got a beautiful foccaccia bread that I had today for lunch, grilled with some old cheddar. Mmmm.

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