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Nassau County’s Gardeners

Carle Place couple’s floral arrangements brighten up LI

When Fichter’s Florist closed its doors in 2000, Bud Fichter thought his days of gardening would be more limited to his own yard. He had spent nearly a lifetime working in the flower shop his father opened in 1934, which had grown to become a Long Island staple. But just because he was ready to retire, didn’t mean his bills were. 


So Bud, along with his wife Barbara, got jobs at the Nassau County greenhouses based out of Eisenhower Park. For the last 12 years, the Carle Place couple has been running the show, responsible for growing, maintaining, arranging and planting the 40,000 plants seen all over Nassau County parks. 


“We love this, it’s rewarding,” Barbara says. “It’s been a lifetime thing for both of us.” 


Eisenhower Park houses two greenhouses, which, depending on the season, grow different plants. The Fichters are currently preparing for the holiday season, growing rows and rows of red, white and pink poinsettias. They’re also planting fall plants such as mums, cabbage and kale around the parks. Come January, the couple will start seeding begonias, impatiens and different annuals so they're ready for the summer.


While gardening takes a lot of hard work and patience, Bud says he loves to watch things grow. 


“It may take a while, but once you see that plant start to open, it’s worth it,” Barbara adds.  


It was plants that brought the couple together. The two met while Barbara was working as a floral designer at Fichter’s, where Bud was the manager. They worked at the floral shop together for 20 years, and still enjoy working side by side at the greenhouses. While Bud works more hands on with the plants, Barb does book work and processes the orders. She also puts the arrangements together, hand making bows and wreaths according to a client's desired theme. 


In addition to growing plants for the county, the Fichters also voluntarily grow vegetables for Island Harvest. The Fichters pay for the seeds themselves and have donated approximately 800 pounds of corn, tomatoes and other vegetables to the cause. 


“It’s a good feeling to know we’re helping,” Barbara says. 


And the Fichters plan to continue gardening for as long as they can.


“We’re still doing what we like to do and we’re happy doing it,” Barbara says. “It’s a good thing to be happy doing what you’re doing. We’re very lucky.”