Evoking a time gone by, Jono Hren, dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, sits patiently next to a cart full of geraniums at the beginning of each summer. For four years, he has manned the geranium stand, owned by his friends Jonathan and Suzy Dayton, near the corner of Route 114 and Toilsome Lane in East Hampton. Business is unpredictable but nice, he said.
“I grew up in the nursery business—I’m used to it,” he added, putting his book away. Mr. Hren’s family has owned Jos. A. Hren Nurseries for more than 70 years, and Mr. Hren sold geraniums for 50 years there, “when they came in clay pots.”
The Daytons, whose family has owned their property since 1648, have been selling geraniums from the edge of their property for 15 years, starting just before Memorial Day weekend through mid-June. They also run the farmstand on the corner of Route 114 and Stephen Hands Path.
“Before Jono, I came out here on my own to sell them, and my children, too, usually under protest,” Ms. Dayton said while walking down her long driveway. “I usually got my children’s friends to help. I had a crop of children to choose from.”
The Daytons’ geraniums are a “high value crop” and go for $5 each for a 4½-inch pot, $8 for a 6½-inch pot and $25 for a hanging basket. They used to grow annuals and plants in their greenhouse, but because things have gotten busier, they now buy seedlings from CJ Van Bourgondien’s nursery in Peconic and grow them to maturity.
“The advantage to buying our geraniums is attention to detail,” she said. “We talk to them, we clean and water them when they need it.”
Ms. Dayton said that while deer and their voracious appetite for plants have hurt their sales over the past few years, deer don’t seem to like geraniums as much as they do other things.
Still, Ms. Dayton and Mr. Hren agreed that people don’t plant flowers like they used to—a reality that has in a way turned the geranium stand into a bit of a charming reminder of the Hamptons’ farming roots.
“We can’t say we’re making a lot selling them,” Ms. Dayton said. “But we like doing it.”