By Carlee Frank

There are 10 interconnected buildings on the outskirts of town with steel frames covered by two layers of plastic; air blows between the coverings and sunlight streams into the semi-tropical oasis below. While everything in Western New York seems frozen and grey, Waterman’s Greenhouse — located at 12317 Vaughn St. — is brimming with greens, pinks and rows and rows of new life.

A greenhouse is a controlled environment that promotes plant growth and protects against the elements and grazing animals. Waterman’s Greenhouse was opened in 1991 by the Waterman family.

“My parents sold our dairy cows in 1989 and they were looking for something to do,” Ethan Waterman, current owner of Waterman’s Greenhouse, said. “We started to grow some vegetables, I went to Alfred State for horticulture and when I came back, we built these greenhouses. That’s how it all started.”

Waterman’s now grows and sells annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, vegetable plants, shrubs and fruiting plants such as blueberry and raspberry shrubs. Waterman said their vegetable plants — such as squashes, onions and peppers — are very popular, especially the heirloom tomatoes. Waterman’s also sells a full line of heirloom vegetable plants.

In order to fulfill the heirloom requirement, the seed lineage must be at least 50 years old. Heirloom tomatoes — commonly harkened as “real tomatoes” because of their pre-commercial roots — come in beautiful reds, yellows, purples and pinks.

The greenhouse opened April 16 and will remain open until Oct. 15. Waterman said they grow and sell in the same greenhouses, so visitors may notice some very young plants — which will be sold later in the season — and other mature plants that are ready for purchase.

“The whole greenhouse is open to walk through for people to see the different stages of plant growth,” Waterman said.

Waterman’s Greenhouse is supported by the entire Waterman family. He said his parents, wife, son, daughter and aunt all work in the greenhouse throughout the season, and are all very hands-on.

“We like to grow the material, we like to plant it and see what it does, so we have hands-on experience to give to our customers,” Waterman said.

Educating customers is very important to the Waterman family. He noted that the biggest problem they face when customers take plants home is sufficient fertilization. While all plants in the greenhouse are fertilized each day, many individuals take a plant home and never fertilize it again.

“Just like people or our dogs, they like to eat every day and so do plants,” Waterman said.

The greenhouse uses Jack’s Fertilizer and they sell it in retail-size containers for customers to purchase. He said it will make the plants last and look beautiful throughout the entire season.

Waterman said his favorite flowering plant is the mandevilla because of its bright pink flowers. He added that both he and his family love seeing their flowers and plants around town. Customers frequently come back and show them pictures of their flower gardens and exclaim that it brightened their home.

“It makes me feel great that our plants are going out and making people happy,” Waterman said.

They have also partnered with the villages of Springville, Arcade, Ellicottville and Holland to supply the beautiful hanging flower baskets that decorate their Main Streets. Waterman said the feedback over the baskets has been wonderful, and they certainly add color to Erie County.

Those who need landscaping material or beautiful flowers and plants are invited to stop by Waterman’s Greenhouse. They are open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visit their website, Instagram or Facebook page for more information.