Krista and Miguel Vieira didn’t know much about gardening when they took over the Horse Lake Garden Centre.
But with a little help from former owner Roger Stratton and a lot of enthusiasm, they’re learning what they can.
“Our biggest concern was we are not gardeners, can we do this? But Roger told us ‘don’t worry, Marcia and I only knew a marigold and petunia when we started,’” Krista said. “We have had to learn how to garden, which just comes with time.”
The Vieiras took over the business at the end of the gardening season in 2021 after selling the 70 Mile General Store, which had been in their family for 34 years. The garden centre proved to be the perfect way to stay in the area and take on a new challenge.
While Krista was the face of the store in 70 Mile, Miguel has taken on that role at Horse Lake. Krista credits this to his near “borderline photographic memory” and easygoing nature. She’s been content to work behind the scenes keeping everything organized and tidy.
Miguel said he’s doing his best to keep the names of all the plants they sell in mind as well as what growing conditions are ideal for each. Considering the large size of the South Cariboo, he said there are a lot of factors to consider for each client, from deer to the average hours of sunlight.
“It’s a whole new world compared to stocking shelves in a grocery store,” Miguel said. “It’s a lot to learn and take in but it’s working well.”
The recent cold temperatures and snowfall have made business irregular but Krista expects it to pick up once it gets warmer. She noted a lot of their clients are new to the area and are looking for trees, shrubs and perennials to beautify their spaces.
“The people who are more long-term local know it’s not time yet. Basically, nothing usually gets planted in the ground before the May long weekend, that’s just how it is up here, but when you’re from the Lower Mainland you might not know that,” Krista said.
Miguel said they have everything they usually stock except white flowers. They’re in short supply due to a combination of crop issues and high demand from weddings province-wide.
The biggest change they’ve made is adding an ice cream bar so customers can enjoy refreshments while browsing the greenhouses. Anything else will come after they’ve experienced a full season.
The Horse Lake Garden Centre is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week until the end of June when they will cut back to five days a week.