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Giving Gardens gears up for busy season, fundraiser

Giving Gardens gears up for busy season, fundraiser

Mother’s Day is Sunday, and CMSE Giving Gardens has been preparing for the rush on flowers for weeks.

“Eighty percent of our sales occur between mid-April and early May,” said executive director Bruce Young.

The 5-year-old retail greenhouse located at 4040 S. Bearfield Road has two greenhouses full of hundreds of varieties of annuals, perennials, herbs, cacti, hanging baskets and tropical foliage. The store held its official spring opening on April 1, but April’s snowstorm and cooler temperatures delayed some operations until late April.

With temperatures finally warming up, a full selection of plants in a rainbow of colors now fills the greenhouses and smaller heated hothouses. Popular flowers like day lilies, peonies, roses and marigolds are just a small part of the gardens’ expansive selection. Chrysanthemums will be back in the fall.

The gardens employee people with disabilities in the Columbia community and operate as part the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Central Missouri Subcontracting Enterprises. CMSE’s 130 employees take turns working in the gardens and doing light assembly and packaging at CMSE’s sheltered workshop. Employees at the workshop subcontract for local and national companies like 3M, CenturyTel and Miller’s Professional Imaging. But the quiet greenhouse, where employees plant, organize, water and interact with customers, is a favorite place to work for many employees.

On Saturday, the Giving Gardens will sell hotdogs and soda to fundraise for the Special Olympics. Young says it’s a logical fundraiser for the group.

“The majority of our employees participate in the Special Olympics,” Young said. “It benefits a lot of our employees.”

The Giving Gardens are open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The greenhouse will remain open as long as employees have flowers and other plants to sell, typically through October.

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