Georgia Magazine - November 2011 - (Page 18)

Generations of growing CHRISTINE S. LUCAS Oelschig’s Greenhouses: An evolving family business O BY CHRISTINE S. LUCAS Above left: George Oelschig, left, and his son Kurt Oelschig show off their floral hydrangeas, growing earlier this year in the Savannahbased family business, Oelschig’s Greenhouses. Above: One of many varieties of plants grown in the greenhouses is Lantana hybrids, which come in bush and low-growing varieties, and all of them attract butterflies. elschig’s Greenhouses in Savannah produces bedding plant material that characterizes the Low Country. The German immigrant who founded Oelschig’s knew the promise held in a flower bud, but even he would be surprised, 129 years later, at how his descendants continue to evolve his business with the changing times. “Nobody thought I could do it,” says George Oelschig, that immigrant’s 85-year-old grandson, adding, “’cause I was a devil.” When young, George was the sort that might throw a rock at you for fun. People tend to remember that, and it didn’t look good on George’s resume. Little did the skeptics know that George would prove to share the gumption of his grandfather. To understand George’s lucrative changes, one must first learn how it all began. In 1881, after learning the florist business in Long Island, N.Y., August Carl Oelschig moved to Savannah. This region’s growing conditions lured the 33-year-old to the South, and August brought with him his 28-year-old fiancée, Anna. A year later, the couple married, and August opened a greenhouse on Anderson Street. “‘Old Lovers’ Lane’,” George says that’s what Anderson Street used to be called. In the business’ current location off President Street, George’s son Kurt now runs things and seems eager to see what can be gleaned by a look back. Photos and plans drawn in the early 1960s by noted Savannah surveyor Simon Kehoe More online at are brought out to show their current location. It’s a sprawling piece of property where George knew he’d fill greenhouse after greenhouse with annuals and perennials. Kurt has added 12 to 15 greenhouses since he took charge. Bedding plants weren’t grown in August’s time like they are now. “There are so many more plant breeders now,” George says. “They create the must-have flowers for every season, and it requires a lot of space to grow them.” August’s first success came from Smilax. Today, the thorned vine is cursed by gardeners trying to remove it from shrub beds without being scratched and poked. August plucked it from the woods and shipped it to New York as an ornamental. He GEORGIA MAGAZINE 18 CHRISTINE S. LUCAS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - November 2011

Georgia Magazine - November 2011
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Special Energy Report
Generations of Growing
A Productive State
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Cooks
Bonus Snapshot Submissions
Gardens Plant of the Month: Liberty Notes
Energy-Efficiency Tips
Second Helping: More Great Recipes

Georgia Magazine - November 2011