Abby Broderick

Abby Broderick - Flowers, Plants & More

Abby BroderickFifty years ago, in 1971, when David and Elaine Goddard started The House by the Side of The Road, it was on Elm Street in Milford and had nothing to do with flowers and gardening supplies.

“It was a gift shop,” their daughter Abby Broderick said recently. “A real tourist trap, as they called it, with the shot glasses and the signs and the animal figurines. There was the ‘back room’ where they had the risqué things, the gag gifts. That was upstairs.”

David Goddard didn’t start out to be a shop owner. “He was a dairy farmer in Massachusetts,” Abby said. “He didn’t like the taxes and started looking around. We drove around through Jaffrey and Wilton, and they decided on Milford. The store came with the name. People like the poem. They sometimes bring us signs, and needlework, we have a lot of that. I think it fits.” Then somebody brought them some African violets and spider plants, “and it went on from there.”

When the by-pass opened, changing the traffic patterns, Goddard decided to move “out to where the people were.”

“We moved here in 1976,” Abby said. She was in high school at the time.

“This was originally an apple packing plant,” she said. “There were lots of crates and boxes left.” Of that operation, only the main part of the store remains. The first greenhouse was built in 1979, she said, “and now we have twelve, just imagine.”

Except for about six years in Winchester, where she and her husband owned a similar store, she has lived in Wilton. “We sold that store and came back here.”

She has been involved with the business ever since. She has four adult children, and 12 grandchildren.

They acquired the neighboring convenience store about 2000, she said, and her husband Tim has since filled in the space in between with a cordwood business, “making the whole complex.” Their greenhouses supply most of the annuals and perennials, she said. “And we have some good suppliers.” She buys the shrubbery, the bushes and the trees. The orchids come from Hawaii and the cactus and succulents from the southwest. Most of the houseplants are also imported.

“We supplement what we can’t grow here,” she said.

HBTSOTRThey space out the planting so as to always have something new and favorites available. The hardy perennials fill long tables in outside spaces. The House By The Side of the Road offers a full line of garden supplies, fertilizers, potting soils, pots and planters, helpful advice if asked for, and flowers all year round, from roses for Valentine’s Day to poinsettias at Christmas, memorial geraniums and pots of fall mums.

And there is still a corner for that “tourist trap” stuff.

“The busiest weekend is Mother’s Day,” Abby said, “and the busiest week is for Memorial Day.” The COVID pandemic increased their business. “People were at home and wanted something living, something green, to improve their homes. People bought plants by the dozens.”

Hers is a cheerful business. “You can’t be sad for long in a room full of flowers. That’s why people buy them. They cheer people up, all year long.” She likes everything about the job, she said. “I’m not an outgoing person but I like people around. And things keep changing, no two years are the same. You have to adjust to the weather, an extra dry year, or a wet one. Sun shining into the greenhouse, what more could you ask for?”

Her favorite flower is stephanotis, she said, a delicate white flower popular with brides. “I like the smell, everything about it.” People stop in around March, when the weather tends to be gloomy and damp, to look for that promise of spring.

But spring is there now in rows of primroses in every imaginable color, cheerful little pots and baskets of that promise.

Abby has no plans to change anything, she said, to expand any more. “I like it the way it is. Anything now will be cosmetic.” The plants change, however, with the seasons and the flower industry. there is always something new. “We try to keep up with the trends. Right now, succulents are getting popular with younger people.”

But flowers never go out of fashion.

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