Maumee Valley Growers, a growers association, includes more than 70 individual growers who work together to strengthen the local greenhouse industry. Though all the growers in the group offer local plants, they have distinct locations, product mixes, and specialties. Each year, Maumee Valley Growers puts on Christmas Shoppes at various locations, including Bench's Greenhouse & Nursery and Wardell's Garden Center.
Bench's, which started off as a modest 32’x144’ poly greenhouse full of tomatoes and pepper plants in 1978, has since exploded into a 3-acre operation that supports a leafy abundance of 15,000 flowering hanging baskets, more than 100,000 potted annuals, and 25,000 potted perennials. In November and December, the garden center morphs into a winter wonderland that showcases more than 100 decorated trees and a seasonal trove of ornaments, fragrant wreaths, poinsettias, and elf catchers.
Wardell's started in 1987 as small greenhouse with some vegetable plants and a few hanging baskets. The owner put the plants out by the road with a sign and a coffee can to collect the money and ended up selling out. Now, what was once a 480-square-foot operation has turned into a more than 25,000-square-foot greenhouse area with a garden center that operates almost year round. During the Christmas season, patrons can sip hot spiced cider while browsing holiday decorations, artificial trees, wreaths, and scented candles. Wardell's three miniature horses, Moonbeam, Moondust, and Moonshadow, are also on hand to greet the customers and make them feel like giants.