December 20-30, 1992:Christmas in North Carolina
November 26: Thanksgiving in Dallas
Return to the Index for 1992



November 28, 1992
The Annual Crump's Garden Poinsettia Tour

 

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Crump's Garden greenhouses where Fred works has a tour day, where people come up to see all the poinsettias that are being grown, buy Christmas decorations and flowers, and in general take a tour of the greenhouse operation. Most folks don't really know where all those beautiful plants and flowers they find at the florist, or those thousands of potted poinsettias that they see everywhere at Christmas come from. Fred suggested that I come up late in the day to take the tour, and then stay over at his house in Van Alstyne.


Getting to the greenhouses is pretty easy- or at least it was in 1992. When Fred used to head up there early on a Monday morning, or when I went up there for the greenhouse tour this Saturday, we go over to the Tollway and hop on it going north. At LBJ Freeway (I-635), we go around to the east to connect up to US 75 north. That expressway angles northeast to McKinney, goes around the town and then continues north all the way to Van Alstyne, where Fred lives.

Nowadays, though, it all depends on the time of day. At 615AM, when Fred used to leave, there's not that much traffic, but even that early I-635 can be a bear, so sometimes it pays to cut across on Lovers Lane to US 75 and go north. The new "High Five" interchange at I-635 and US 75 can also slow things down. At rush hour, though, all bets are off these days, as there are at least a half million more people living along US 75 right through McKinney. Even though the expressway has been upgraded, it is still slow.

In any event, to get to the greenhouses, you (used to) exit from the expressway onto a rural road which goes north and right past the greenhouses. But all that has changed, too. Although this page is about 1992, a lot has changed since then, and almost everything we did then you can't do anymore.


1992 - c. 2012

Present Day

At right are aerial views of the way you used to get to the greenhouses and the way you get there now. So many more people have moved to the area north of Dallas, and especially to the area around McKinney, that you no longer ever get out into the country between the two cities; there used to be a ten mile stretch between Plano and McKinney where US 75 looked like a countryside Interstate.

Now, it is one major interchange after another, and at each one there are shopping centers, businesses and more tract homes than you can count. Like I said, a half million more people have to live somewhere. (There's also another half million north of DFW Airport, but that's an entirely different story.) McKinney has expanded so that the area around the greenhouses is no longer just farmland- but just blocks from the greenhouses, north, west and south, there are new housing developments. So much traffic starting using that former rural-road exit from US 75 that a new exit has been constructed, the old road has become a cul-de-sac and they are starting work on yet more houses.

But from these high-level aerial views, it looks as if everything is pretty much the same, other than that. Not so.

The expansion of McKinney is just one of the major trends of the last 25 years. As part of that expansion, US 75 was widened and upgraded almost all the way to Van Alstyne. More lanes were added through McKinney to take care of the traffic- mostly people heading to their homes in the new developments all around the greenhouses and northeastward. McKinney built a new City Hall and Courthouse that sits just northeast out of the aerial views above, and than brought with it more development and more traffic. Because of this expansion, the 50 acres on which the greenhouses sit has become more and more valuable. By 2010, or so, the land became more valuable than the greenhouses themselves. But as long as the greenhouses were making money, that really didn't matter.

The problem was that by 2010 or so, they weren't. The economic downturn in 2008 affected them a great deal, and even when the economy recovered, smaller operations like Crump's Garden found that they could no longer compete with much larger operations elsewhere, where the climate was better and water was cheaper. Retailers were squeezed, which meant wholesalers were squeezed, which meant that suppliers like Crump's were squeezed too. They might still have survived had not the Crump family started to fragment, and the Crump brothers, the third generation to run the operation, not gotten at odds with each other. Everything came to a head when the Crump's were offered a sizeable amount of cash for the greenhouses- or, rather, the land they were sitting on. Perhaps they could have moved somewhere, but as Fred tells it, the brothers were just "done" with it all, and thought they might just as well take the money and run.

The greenhouses closed in 2014, I believe, and had not Fred already retired in 2008 (at my urging, but then that is still another story you'll get to later on in the photo album), he would have been fairly abruptly out of a job. Here are two aerial views- one from 2008 and one from today, and you can see what's happened.


2008

Present Day

Actually, I believe that the shop is still operating as a florist, but they don't get there plants from the land right around them; they get them from other wholesalers now. I believe they will be closing, too, eventually, because there are plans on the drawing boards for new roads and new houses that will cover the area west of the greenhouses and some of the farmland across the Parkway.

I realize that was a lot of information, but I couldn't resist. After all, the purpose of this page was to be the parking place for the pictures I took on the greenhouse tour- and there weren't all that many of them.


Poinsettias at the Crump Gardens Greenhouse


Inside a Poinsettia House

Here you can see the different colored poinsettias that are potted by the greenhouse. Fred tells me that they pot and sell over 100,000 of them each year.


Poinsettias Ready to be Shipped to Wholesalers

This is one of the largest houses, and there are 40,000 plants in this house alone.


A Sea of Poinsettias

The tour was pretty neat. One of the Crump brothers was the guide for my group. Fred was also acting as a guide, but because Fred is a very private person at work, we thought it best that I not join a group he was leading. We did spend a nice Saturday night at his house before I returned to the city on Sunday.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.



December 20-30, 1992:Christmas in North Carolina
November 26: Thanksgiving in Dallas
Return to the Index for 1992