It started with a windmill on Torbay Road.
An unfamiliar sight for the stretch leading to the series of communities up the eastern side of the Avalon, but one that earned its place, and the Dutch vibe is authentic. Holland Nurseries was started by Ted Laurentius, a Dutch horticulturist in 1947. In the early years, he was breeding new varieties of tulips on the present site on Torbay Road and supplying fresh-cut flowers to most of the flower shops in St. John’s.
In the early 1950s, Mr. Laurentius brought two other Dutch horticulturalists, Frans Nap and John Verbree to work with him. He sold the business to them in 1962. The iconic windmill in the Holland Nurseries parking lot, built by Mr. Nap’s father-in-law during a summer visit from Holland to St. John’s in the mid-1960s, is reflected in the stylized windmill in the Holland Nurseries logo.
Holland Nurseries is still a locally-owned family business. When Mr. Nap retired in 1988, he sold it to the current owners, John and Maxine Frecker. Many of the senior staff at Holland Nurseries have been with the company for over 40 years.
You can still find the best tulips at Holland Nurseries, but that’s just the start. They are committed to providing great customer service and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Holland Nurseries is widely recognized as one of the province’s leading florists, well known for their design work. In 2021, Holland Nurseries was honoured by Teleflora as one of the top 25 florists in Canada. Floral arrangements from there have been part birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, celebrations of accomplishments, and sympathy tributes - all life moments for families throughout the Northeast Avalon - for 75 years.
Co-owner John Frecker says, “It’s really interesting to see how changing styles influence what people are looking for in their flower arrangements. Flowers like roses, carnations, chrysanthemums and lilies have always been popular and they are still staples in floral bouquets; but in recent years we are seeing increasing interest in larger, more dramatic flowers such as hydrangea and peonies, and for unusual flowers such as protea, orchids and calla lilies. We are also seeing greatly renewed interest in houseplants, especially easy care, low maintenance varieties such as succulents and cacti.”
Holland Nurseries has 15 greenhouses and a large garden centre filled (in season) with annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. There is a strong emphasis here on plants that are well suited to the Newfoundland climate. They also carry exotic ornamentals that are of interest to more intrepid gardeners. It’s a zen place for people to visit, and many green thumbs have sprouted in their mist.
John says, “Especially since the pandemic, we’re seeing how people are turning to nature in their own backyards. People want to experience their gardens as extensions of their living space, and not just in the summer. While the appetite for spring bursts of colour is never going to fade, people are also choosing shrubbery and plants that will look gorgeous year-round.”
Berry bushes have long since been a staple for Holland Nurseries, but interest in growing food to eat is an area John and the team are happy to get behind.
“Beyond the beauty of the garden, there is untold satisfaction in growing food. We’ve got a great selection of seeds, and we also start the seedlings for people to plant when the threat of frost is gone. It’s an important learning process and we’re excited to be helping people learn.”
Supporting other local businesses and green ideas is a priority for Holland Nurseries. You can order locally made gourmet artisan chocolate from Newfoundland Chocolate Company and from Aunt Sarah’s Chocolates to go with your floral delivery. Cards and artwork by local artists, as well as unique craft items from local makers, are also on display at the shop.
This year, Holland Nurseries has brought in a new line of merchandise made from reclaimed wood salvaged from old barns in Ontario. “We’re a company that looks to the earth for our business - we’re always looking for ways to help take care of it!”