Oklahoma’s Oldest Greenhouse
GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA— From inside to outside, the rhythms of a season run about 12 weeks ahead in this Oklahoma garden spot. “This is a four and a half inch tropical hybiscus,” says owner Gayle Seuhring inside a huge greenhouse.
Seuhring came to Oklahoma from Wisconson in answer to a help wanted ad back in the 80’s to work at what, even then, was the state’s oldest greenhouse. He ran it for a few years then bought it all, lock, stock, and history. Seuhring adds, “We have fun every day.”
Back in 1892 a man named Furrow planted the first seed. He built a greenhouse next to the railroad tracks. He and his family grew cut flowers. They heated the place with coal fired steam and the business grew pretty big.Later generations of Furrows moved on to potted plants. Seuhring and now his daughter Tara Tischauser decided to concentrate on perennials and garden plants. They picked the right thing. “Big business,” says Tara. “We grow 6 million plants a year.”
If you look close you can still spot some of the old steam pipes and cypress wood beams that hold up some of the greenhouses that date back to the 1920’s. “They’re still serviceable,” says Seuhring. “We repair them yearly.”
Sales rep Mary Jane Cazares says you have to look for the old early in the growing season because by March everything is covered in color. “Gorgeous in both directions,” she says. “That’s when you know it’s time to start shipping.
They deliver to five surrounding states. The early tomatoes on one assembly line will go south to where Spring is sprung first. The rest will follow quickly as it gets warmer across the Southwest. Gayle Seuhring says, “The vegetable market right now is exploding.”
The Furrows ran this 8 acre farm for a few generations. Now its the Seuhrings and the Tischausers’ turn to try. In a region known to be unpredictable, “the tornadoes, the hail, the heat, the cold,” lists Gayle of his chief weather worries, Red Dirt plants and these old Guthrie Greenhouses thrive on. A good piece of ground, even 120 springs later, is still fertile as ever.