James Wietzke remembers growing plants in his room as a child. Growing has always been in his blood. It’s one of the reasons he still puts in the long hours, seven-days-a-week after more than 50 years at Roseacre Greenhouses in Charlotte. The passion for growing is shared by his wife Diana, who is often working those same long hours at his side.
Roseacre Greenhouses has been in the Wietzke family since 1914, with the past 50 years under the guidance and ownership of James and Diana. A lot has changed in 50 years, and yet, much has remained the same. The hours aren’t quite as long, but keeping the thousands of flowers and plants thriving at Roseacre still requires 15 to 18 hour days.
“You better love it,” James said of being in the wholesale and retail greenhouse business. “I’m a grower, pure and simple. Always have been and always will be.”
As a grower, James and Diana understand the fragile nature of many of their plants, which requires diligence to make sure the needs of each species is attended to at all times. Both Charlotte High School graduates, James has a Bachelor of Science degree in floriculture marketing from Michigan State University, and Diana graduated from Belens Design School. As growers themselves, they often pass on that knowledge to their customers, which makes their level of customer service unrivaled in the area.
“I always come here,” said Nona Upright, who couldn’t believe she had been coming to Roseacre for flowers for 50 years. “I never have to worry about anything I buy here.”
Diana said over the course of five decades, many Roseacre customers have become more like family.
“We appreciate all of the customers that have helped support us over the years,” Diana said.
When you are putting in those long hours, it can be nice to see so many friendly faces, especially those that show their appreciation for the hard work.
Roseacre began offering retail sales at grower direct pricing in the late 70s after requests from customers began to increase. Roseacre originally served only as a provider to the family flower shop, which sold cut flowers and holiday potted plants. The business expanded in the 1960s to include wholesale crops, and in 1963 the first truck route was established to sell increased production of cut and pot crops.
By 1973, the flower shop was closed and the truck routes were increased to five days a week. At one time, James said Roseacre was supplying flowers and plants to several large retailers along five truck routes. That side of the business has since dwindled, though Roseacre still draws customers from across Michigan into southern Indiana.
Roseacre still sells to the Grand Ledge, Albion, and Portland Garden Clubs, and Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital for their annual sales in addition to being a bustling shopping destination for spring plantings.
As second generation owners, James and Diana have passed much of their knowledge to their son, Richard, who of their three children has spent time working with the business. Richard’s son, Jake, is also involved with the shop, making him the fourth generation to work the family business.
Roseacre Greenhouses is located at 620 W. Harris Street in Charlotte. For more information, call (517) 543-5612.